How To Manage Social Anxiety: Tips And Tricks

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated April 3, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

For people with social anxiety disorder, interacting with others in social situations can bring intense fear and anxiety and can lead to avoiding such situations altogether. This discomfort can cause significant distress and disrupt your life in a variety of ways. However, there may be several ways to manage anxiety symptoms related to such situations. For example, you might lean on the people you trust, attend a support group for those with social phobia, give yourself small challenges and celebrate your wins, and show yourself kindness and compassion. Online therapy can also be a helpful tool to connect with a licensed therapist who can teach you additional skills for managing social anxiety.

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Understanding social anxiety disorder

In general, social anxiety disorder (SAD), also called social phobia, isn’t just shyness or occasional nervousness, which can be perfectly normal in some situations. It is often defined as an intense fear of social situations and being judged by others. As defined by the American Psychological Association, SAD may be an anxiety disorder characterized by “extreme and persistent social anxiety or performance anxiety […] that causes significant distress or prevents participation in social activities.” Individuals with social anxiety disorder may avoid the situations or social anxiety triggers that cause this fear, or they may handle the situations but endure extreme discomfort.  

Prevalence of social anxiety disorder

If you have social anxiety disorder, please know that you are not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety disorder may affect around 15 million adults in the U.S. 

In addition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 12.1% of U.S. adults may experience the disorder at some point in their lives. 

Symptoms of social anxiety disorder

Some of the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include: 

  • Physical symptoms, such as sweating, blushing, nausea, trembling, muscle tension, rapid heart rate, and dizziness when interacting with others

  • Having a rigid body posture and finding it difficult to make eye contact when socializing

  • Fearing being judged

  • Being overly self-conscious

  • Over-analyzing performance after social interactions

  • Avoiding social gatherings, situations that lead to confrontation, or situations where you are the center of attention, which can lead to negative consequences

  • Having a difficult time starting conversations and being very afraid of talking to strangers

Although some symptoms may vary, the central feature of SAD tends to be the persistent fear of social interactions. 


How to get rid of social anxiety: Tips to overcome social anxiety disorder 

Living with social anxiety disorder can feel very challenging and isolating at times, but there may be ways to manage it and find relief. Included below are a few tips as you consider how to get rid of social anxiety:

  1. Lean on people you trust

If you have social anxiety disorder, you don’t necessarily have to handle it all on your own. While asking for help can take courage, it may make a huge difference. Consider confiding in someone you trust and asking them for help with anxiety-provoking situations. For instance, you might ask if they could:

  • Join you for a social event

  • Accompany you to seek professional help

  • Go with you to group therapy

  • Simply be there for you to talk with and have a nice time together

If you have people in your life that you feel comfortable with, it may help to spend more time with them and let them know you might need a little support sometimes. Spending more time with people you trust may also help you build self-esteem and feel more at ease in other anxiety-inducing situations.

  1. Join a support group

Some people with social anxiety disorder may benefit from joining a support group. There can often be something comforting and helpful about connecting with other people who are experiencing similar challenges. Sometimes, this may help you to not feel so alone as you listen to interesting stories of others who experience this disorder. Plus, working alongside others as they make progress may give you hope and motivation on your own journey. This can also feel like a safe place to say concerns and ask for help. 

While being in a room full of strangers may at first be very anxiety-inducing, it may help to remember that many of them likely feel the same way. Having the courage to go to a meeting or several can be a positive step in the right direction.

  1. Start small and celebrate your wins

Navigating social situations with social anxiety disorder can be very overwhelming, but it’s generally not necessary to tackle your anxiety all at once. It may be helpful to start small and then consistently recognize your successes.

For instance, you could start by trying to speak up a little more in work meetings, make small talk with the cashier when picking up your coffee, or say hello to a new neighbor. Then, however small or large the win may be, be sure to give yourself some praise for the effort you put in and celebrate yourself. This may help you build confidence over time and recognize the progress you’re making. 

  1. Be kind to yourself

It can be frustrating when social situations feel so difficult, but try to remember to be kind to yourself. Progress often takes time, and social anxiety disorder is generally not just shyness, but an anxiety disorder that can cause serious disruptions to your life. 

Try to show yourself kindness and compassion, and try not to hold yourself to unrealistic expectations or put yourself under unfair pressure. Plus, being unfairly hard on yourself if you “make a mistake” in a social situation may worsen your anxiety. Strive to give yourself grace and patience as you move forward. 

  1. Seek treatment

If you have social anxiety disorder, you may consider seeking professional treatment. Common treatments for social anxiety disorder usually include psychological and pharmacological interventions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can frequently be used as an effective treatment for anxiety. 

With CBT, a therapist usually helps the patient examine and challenge negative thoughts that may be underlying their condition. Sessions can also involve learning coping skills, such as relaxation exercises, so that when the person starts feeling anxious, they can cope with it more effectively. In other situations, a therapist may use exposure therapy as a way to help someone reduce their fear in social situations.

Experience relief from social anxiety

Benefits of online therapy

Individuals with social anxiety disorder may feel afraid or intimidated to go to a new place and interact with strangers in an office in order to attend therapy. In these cases, online therapy can be especially beneficial. It can empower you to meet with a mental health professional from anywhere you have an internet connection, including the comfort of your home—so you don’t need to leave your house if you don’t want to. 

Effectiveness of online therapy

Research has shown that online therapy can be an effective option for individuals with social anxiety disorder and other anxiety disorders. For instance, a 2022 study reported that online therapy generally showed strong efficacy for the treatment of social anxiety disorder (SAD). Also, a systematic review published in 2020 found that internet-based CBT had a “significantly positive effect on patients with SAD.”


Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is usually characterized by intense fear and anxiety around social situations and being judged as socially awkward, even if this isn’t the case. If this is something you’re experiencing, you are not alone. You may consider some of the strategies above for coping with social anxiety disorder, such as leaning on the people you trust, attending a support group, celebrating your wins, and being kind to yourself. For further support, an online therapist can help.
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