Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Although social anxiety disorder generally requires help from a medical expert or qualified psychotherapist, you can try some self-help techniques to handle situations that are likely to trigger your symptoms:

  • Reach out to people with whom you feel comfortable
  • Join a local or Internet-based support group
  • Get physical exercise or be physically active on a regular basis
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Limit or avoid caffeine

Practice in small steps

First, consider your fears to identify what situations cause the most anxiety. Then gradually practice these activities until they cause you less anxiety. Begin with small steps in situations that aren't overwhelming.

Consider practicing these situations:

  • Eat with a close relative, friend or acquaintance in a public setting
  • Make eye contact and return greetings from others, or be the first to say hello
  • Give someone a compliment
  • Ask a retail clerk to help you find an item
  • Get directions from a stranger
  • Show an interest in others — ask about their homes, children, grandchildren, hobbies or travels, for instance
  • Call a friend to make plans

Prepare for social situations

At first, being social when you're feeling anxious is challenging. As difficult or painful as it may seem initially, don't avoid situations that trigger your symptoms. By regularly facing these kinds of situations, you'll continue to build and reinforce your coping skills.

These strategies can help you begin to face situations that make you nervous:

  • Prepare for conversation, for example, by reading the newspaper to identify an interesting story you can talk about.
  • Focus on personal qualities you like about yourself.
  • Practice relaxation exercises.
  • Adopt stress management techniques.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Pay attention to how often the embarrassing situations you're afraid of actually take place. You may notice that the scenarios you fear usually don't come to pass.
  • When embarrassing situations do happen, remind yourself that your feelings will pass, and you can handle them until they do.

Avoid using alcohol to calm your nerves. It may seem like it helps, but in the long run it can make you feel more anxious.

Sep. 12, 2014

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