6 Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety in College
While CBT for social anxiety, medication, and group therapy can be helpful for some college students with social anxiety, it’s always good to know about other techniques you can practice and use on your own to minimize symptoms of social anxiety.
1. Build new friendships
Smile, nod, and say hello to new people. Make eye contact and comment about homework assignments to nearby classmates. Bring up the idea of forming a study group. Reach out, without pressure, and dedicate some effort to forging new friendships.
It will be challenging, but just take baby steps and go at your own pace. Make 1 small goal each week to start — say hi to the person who sits next to you in your English class. Ask someone in your psychology class if they want to meet for coffee and study.
2. Attend social functions
Even if you’re apprehensive about it, make it a point to attend some social functions. Take a close friend with you to help you keep calm. It’s important to socialize and have fun to balance your responsibilities as a student.
“Being socially active is an important part of the college experience; it doesn’t have to be stressful; it ideally is enjoyable. Some healthy coping strategies to help with social anxiety include journal writing, meditation, exercise, and socializing with a few people at a time so it’s not as overwhelming as it might feel in larger group settings.”
3. Be ready for conversation
Have compliments ready and research current events that people are buzzing about. Be a quiet and curious listener. Ask open-ended questions that don’t force answers or show disapproval of any opinion. Keep your responses and input brief and thoughtful.
4. Exercise, daily if possible
Exercise is well known to offer numerous health benefits, but it’s also a good way to meet new friends and socialize. Choose an activity that you enjoy and get involved in your school’s programs. If you can find anything that immediately interests you, try something new. Weightlifting, yoga, frisbee, rock climbing, even skateboarding all qualify.
5. Eat healthy
The average college student’s diet is far from ideal. Ensuring proper nutrition may not do a lot to make you new friends in college, but a healthy diet certainly can help you reduce stress, think more clearly, perform better on exams, and live a healthier life in general.
6. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being completely present and in the moment. It is becoming aware of your place and purpose and resisting the urge to become reactive or overwhelmed by your situation. You can practice mindfulness through meditation, which can help you control your mind and emotions, even in stressful situations. Download a guided app for mindfulness meditation and make a commitment to meditating every morning or evening.
Having social anxiety in college can be difficult to deal with, but treatment is available and often highly successful. There are also various ways to combat the effects of social anxiety on your own. With a proper diagnosis, effective therapy, medicinal treatment if necessary, and strong coping strategies, your chances of having a fulfilling student experience are quite high.
If you’re looking for online therapy options, Talkspace makes finding a therapist easy. You can be working on yourself and your social anxiety from home. Above all, during your college years, remember to live in the moment and be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Focus on your goals of superior academic performance, making new friends, and growing as the individual you are born to be. Your entire life is in front of you. You don’t have to miss out.