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Social media has many good qualities but is also fraught with challenges for people who are socially anxious. They may feel as self-conscious as they would face to face. They may think that they don't have anything to say, that they come across as boring, or that people may think they're stupid.
These fears affect how people behave, causing them to hold back and hide their true selves. In turn, it makes them feel even more boring or quiet, making them share even less about themselves.
Rather than attending to the conversation at hand, socially anxious people are focused on themselves and continually monitor how they're coming across. They assume the worst about themselves.
When chatting to someone online, try to focus on the other person. Actively listen rather than thinking about how you look or sound. Actively enjoy what is out there. When on a video call, minimise your own image to help you focus more on the conversation.
Don't fall into the trap of comparing yourself with others on social media. You may think they have endless fun or seem very popular, but, in reality, social media gives a small glimpse into somebody else's life.
When you find yourself playing comparison games, stop and ask yourself if it is helping you. Do you see the whole picture or just a small fraction of their life? Then try to focus your attention away from social media.
If you find yourself holding back from taking part in social media, ask what you would tell friends who have the same concern. You'd probably encourage them to give it a go. The same is true for you.
Join in a bit more during group chats. Try share something on social media, even if you just share somebody else's post. Try not to monitor how many 'likes' you've received. Move forward and focus on something else.
If you post something online and wonder why nobody 'like' it, or worry that what you wrote was stupid, try to think about it differently
People might have missed your post because of the sheer volume of content they scrolled through, not because there was anything wrong with your post. Remember that your self-critical thoughts are your thoughts, not what others think of you.
There is an attention-training exercise that can reduce the feeling of anxiety.
Spend a few minutes each day practising the following:
These small practices can help you move your attention to something different, rather than being focused on yourself.
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Neuroscience research suggests that awkward people have less activity in their "social brains" and require extra effort when interpreting social cues. This is draining and can cause anxiety.
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It’s key to connecting with people to suspend your ego; to put your own needs, wants and opinions aside. Anxiety does the opposite bringing your feelings and expectations to the forefront.
Focus on the other person. Simply listen to what they have to say and ask them to tell you more.
Just because you feel it doesn’t make it real. Feelings come from beliefs. Change the beliefs and feelings will change.
Research and anecdotal evidence show that the simple act of positively reimagining something can be enough to decrease anxiety.