How To Not Be Socially Awkward: Is It Possible?

Updated December 17, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Is It Hard For You To Keep Friends? Talk Through It

Many people feel anxious when faced with certain social situations, leading to stumbling over words, feeling flushed, or avoiding interactions altogether. Typically, those of us with social anxiety may be aware that our anxieties are irrational, but they can't seem to shake the overhanging feelings and thoughts.

Furthermore, an individual may not realize the major impact that social anxiety may be having on the different areas of their life, as it can manifest itself in some sneaky and unexpected ways. Social anxiety is a legitimate ailment leading one to experience irrational anxiety and fear stemming irrationally from worries of being judged by others as inadequate.

What Is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is more common than you might think. In fact, it is one of the most prevalent psychological disorders in America, coming in third after depression and alcoholism. Someone who experiences this kind of anxiety may manifest symptoms like excessive sweating, trembling, muscle twitches, and a racing heart, among other signs of physiological arousal. It isn't unusual for individuals with unaddressed social anxiety to have few or no social or romantic relationships.

The anxiety associated with this affliction can significantly interfere with one's daily routine, performance at work or school, and other major areas of life. It often originates in childhood, with anxious children exhibiting behaviors like excessive clinging to caregivers or tantrums when in new and unfamiliar surroundings.

Getting Help On How Not To Be Socially Awkward

When addressing social anxiety, professionals have successfully used cognitive behavioral therapy to give an individual back their sense of confidence and control. This kind of therapy acts to permanently change neural pathways through directed attention and exercise, effectively introducing healthy behaviors or thoughts in place of maladaptive ones.

For many, especially those with social anxiety, taking the first step in seeking care can be a limiting factor. It can be hard to recognize or admit that you have a problem in the first place, and even if you do, care may be cost-prohibitive. One must also work up the nerve to get to the initial appointment.

How To Not Be Socially Awkward

Even basic errands can be very daunting and draining for individuals with social anxiety. Meeting with a professional can help you to identify some of your maladaptive thoughts and behaviors.

BetterHelp is an online resource tool intended to connect those individuals who need or want to work with an appropriate mental health professional anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection. 

Many treatments can help with social anxiety disorder or even social awkwardness. How will you know when to seek help from a mental health professional? If you're at the point where you are avoiding social contact or social situations because of overwhelming fears and your normal function is inhibited, it's time to get help.

Have you noticed that you have difficulty achieving certain life goals because of your social anxiety? Overwhelming fears of being the center of attention, accidentally offending someone, being embarrassed, or subject to judgment are common. Such crippling fears make a living more difficult. You may have trouble advancing in your career because of an inability to speak publicly. You may shy away from that steady relationship you secretly long for because of a fear of dating, or you may avoid going to a new restaurant because you may not want to eat in public. People with social anxiety may also be depressed or have low self-esteem, even negative or suicidal thoughts.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7, or you can text the word “HOME” to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

Help From A Mental Health Professional 

Take a moment to reflect on how social anxiety may impact you and what you would like to see differently in your life. These life obstacles may become the goals to overcome in a treatment setting. A trained mental health professional can help you break them down to achieve them realistically. You don't have to take on every goal alone, and you may find with the therapy you get closer to living a more desirable life with fewer fears of anxiety and reduced feelings of depression.

Is It Hard For You To Keep Friends? Talk Through It

Your therapist may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy or psychiatric evaluation to determine medication options. If you are prescribed medications, they may not go into effect as quickly as you prefer, as it may take a while to discover any side effects and see if the medication is right for you. You may also have to wait two to six weeks for the medication to take effect. Your doctor or psychiatrist may suggest antidepressants to treat your disorder. They may prescribe drugs called SSRIs. You may recognize some of the more common SSRIs: Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft. SNRIs are also antidepressants, and you may recognize the names of Cymbalta or Effexor. 

People may benefit from a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medications because medicines target chemical imbalances in the brain that can impact mood. Cognitive behavioral therapy educates the patient about skills they can use whenever or wherever they are.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For You 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a combination of traditional talk therapy and behavioral therapy. A CBT therapist will help you to identify negative thoughts and increase awareness regarding how that negative thinking is impacting your emotions and behaviors in social situations. Your social anxiety may have patterns of negative thinking and beliefs that are difficult to pinpoint without this outside help. 

Together, you and your therapist will examine anxiety-producing situations to identify environmental factors, people, or stressors that prompt self-doubt and fear. When you begin to understand the emotions and beliefs that are connected to your social awkwardness, you can better identify and challenge your own negative thoughts through self-talk. This emotional assessment and learned skills allow you to better respond to triggering social situations outside of the therapy room.

CBT may or may not involve the use of a journal or behavioral chart. The benefit of keeping a journal is to record situations that come up in the real world that have influenced you to respond avoidantly or fearfully. Writing in your journal can help you exercise the use of positive self-talk and help you further create connections between emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in between therapy sessions.

You and your therapist may focus on building confidence and self-esteem that you can use in the real world. In traditional talk therapy, you may discuss the past with your therapist to identify any origins of negative thoughts that may be present. Role-playing between therapist and client can help identify and address situational fears surrounding social situations. You and your therapist can role-play introductions and navigating social situations with strangers. Social anxiety, much like traditional anxiety, can respond well to regular exercise, sufficient sleep, or even limiting alcohol and caffeine.

Is Online Therapy For You?

Sometimes, it can be difficult to fit in-person therapy into your schedule. Online therapy, such as that provided by BetterHelp, can be much more convenient. As long as you have an internet connection and an electronic device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can connect with a therapist at any time of day.

Online therapy has been proven effective for working on many issues, including social anxiety. When you can relax in your own home, it may be much easier to work through the reasons for your social anxiety and develop skills for dealing with it.

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