If you get nervous just thinking about attending your freshman inauguration party, if you avoid public speaking like a plague, if making a phone call is the worst punishment for you, then you might exhibit symptoms of social phobia. This condition can poison your college life and rob you of precious opportunities, so here is a guide on how to combat it.
Reduce Negative Thoughts
Whenever your anxiety starts kicking in, there is usually a loud voice in your brain listing all the reasons behind your failures, past and future. Sometimes this voice even prevents you from noticing the good things: you cannot hear the encouraging messages of your friends, cannot see the inviting body language of your teacher, cannot concentrate on keeping your own spirit up. Whenever you hear negative thoughts, shut them off and do your best to concentrate on your surroundings, on the person you are talking to and their behavior. If you hear those thoughts before an exam, concentrate on your means: review and read the material, instead of listening to inner negativity.
Learn to Breathe
It might sound silly, but learning how to breathe will help you in many life situations. Inhale as deep as you can and count to ten, then exhale just as slowly. Repeat the procedure as many times as you need. You can imagine a calming scenery: an open field near a forest, or the beach at sunrise. Breathing will provide your brain with oxygen, lessen the stress and help to boost your confidence. This tip will get you through the preparations for a public speech and before talking to an intimidating professor.
Change Your Lifestyle
Sometimes high levels of anxiety during social situations are connected with the habits of a person. You can even ask your doctor, and get your confirmation that it is better to avoid caffeine, energy drinks and chocolate, as they are stimulants. Smoking and drinking, contrary to popular belief, do not lessen the anxiety, but wind you up, so taking liquid courage works only in movies. In addition to these pieces of advice, you must remember that a night of sleep is always necessary, so make sure to get enough energy before an important event.
Even though this advice may seem impossible to carry through, to destroy social phobia completely you should face your fears. Of course, this does not mean that you need to throw the biggest party on campus, but rather start with small steps. Write down all your achievements in a special notebook, starting from the most insignificant ones. “Saying hi to your neighbor”, “writing an e-mail to your professor” may seem silly for some, but for you they will be the foundation of a new you, free from phobias and anxieties. You may even write down your desired goals, such as “take part in the karaoke contest” or “volunteer at the local pet shelter”.