There are various reasons you might find yourself habitually nervous around people. Maybe you fear they are judging you, or perhaps past relationships have led you to expect the worst from others. Unfortunately, your nervousness can have a negative effect on your social skills, causing you to miss out on potential friendships or even romantic relationships. Several strategies can help you relax around people and develop a healthy social life.
Identify Your Worries
Keep track of your negative thoughts in social situations, suggests Margarita Tartakovsky, associate editor at PsychCentral, in the article "5 Ways to Reduce Worrying and Anxiety." For example, a common thought might be, "No one wants to hear what I have to say" or "Everyone is paying attention to my annoyed voice." Take note that these worries are typically your own opinions, not facts. You should also look for patterns in your nervousness. Perhaps you are only nervous around certain people. Once you identify problems, you are better suited to solve them.
When a situation arises that will provoke your anxiety, aim to be mindful, suggests Tartakovsky. When you are mindful, you focus on the world around you, rather than your own internal dialogue. In the case of social situations, you can focus more on the people around you. Use your five senses. Hear what they are saying, watch their facial features and gestures, catch a whiff of their perfume. Ask questions and picture the world from the perspective of others. If your internal dialogue wanders in, acknowledge it, then gently move it aside as you refocus on the situation.
A common assumption of socially nervous people is that everyone in the room is judging them for their imperfections, suggests assistant clinical professor of psychiatry Srini Pillay in the Psychology Today article "Some Practical Tips on Social Anxiety." Some people will notice your imperfections, but mostly they are focused on their own, suggests Pillay. Remind yourself that no one is perfect, and, in addition, your own self-perception is often distorted. You are likely overemphasizing your own flaws. Learn to laugh at your imperfections rather than use them as constant fuel for worries.
Breathe It Out
Breathing exercises are a powerful defense against anxiety in social situations, suggests Tartakovsky in the PsychCentral article "9 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Right Here, Right Now." When you feel nervousness building or before you enter a situation that often spurs on anxiety, practice this exercise: Inhale slowly while counting to four. Fill your belly and then your chest. Hold this for four seconds, then exhale as you count to four again. Repeat this until you feel more relaxed in your social setting.
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