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In this article, I will help you overcome social anxiety for good.  Connecting with other people and forming loving and trusting relationships can bring us immense joy and happiness. However, for some people, talking to new people, asking for a date or speaking in public creates fear and anxiety.

In this article, I will explain what social anxiety is and cover the typical symptoms. I will also uncover the 4 components to social anxiety.  Knowing and understanding these 4 components is key to how you overcome social anxiety.

I’ll then cover 8 of the most effective ways to help you overcome social anxiety. Keep reading as you learn how to be socially confident and develop wonderful friendships and relationships.

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What Is Social Anxiety?

It’s a fear of social environments and your ability to perform well in those environments. This includes anxiety about being judged, watched or negatively evaluated. It’s also the fear of being rejected, embarrassed or scrutinized in social situations.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

The symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Being afraid to ask questions.
  • Difficulty talking to people that you don’t know.
  • Believing that people don’t like you.
  • Believing that other people are better than you.
  • Avoiding social events.
  • Avoiding crowds.
  • Feeling uncomfortable talking to authority figures such as your manager at work.
  • Making more mistakes when other people are watching you.
  • Being silent in meetings.
  • Not wanting to be the center of attention.  For example, on your birthday.
  • Avoiding tough phone calls. For example, sales calls, following up on an interview or asking someone out on a date.

Where Does Social Anxiety Come From?

Thousands of years ago, when we lived as part of a tribe, our survival depended on being in the tribe.  If the tribe rejected you and forced you to live on your own, you wouldn’t survive.

Although being rejected is no longer a life or death situation, your brain is wired to believe that survival depends on being accepted by others.

How Many People Suffer with Social Anxiety?

About 12% of people experience social anxiety that significantly impacts their life. It affects their happiness, their ability to do things and hampers their career.

Many more people suffer from social anxiety in certain interpersonal situations, but are fine in others. So whether you have a mild case of social anxiety or one that is more severe, this article will help you.

The 4 Components to Social Anxiety

Social anxiety (and other types of anxiety) are created and maintained by 4 components. These are physiological, cognitive, emotional and behavioral.

Physiological

This is the physical symptoms of social anxiety. These symptoms include:

  • A racing heart.
  • Sweaty palms.
  • Butterflies in your stomach.
  • Shaky hands.
  • Shaky voice.
  • Feeling faint.
  • Blushing.

As these symptoms are physical, other people could potentially see them.  However, you will notice them far more than other people will.  Most people will be totally unaware of any physical symptoms you’re experiencing.

These physiological symptoms happen during the social anxiety situation.  You may notice some minor physical symptoms when thinking about it beforehand. However, it’s much more pronounced during the social situation.

Cognitive

Cognitive or cognitions is the technical term for thoughts. It’s about what is going on in your mind. This includes negative thoughts, excessive thoughts, and thinking the same thoughts repeatedly.  This is called rumination.

The cognitive component also includes how you imagine the social situation in your mind. Are you imagining it going badly? Imagining flunking a presentation or being rejected by another person?.

Unlike the physical symptoms that only happen during a social anxiety situation, these cognitive components can happen both before and during any social situation. So you can experience the cognitive components of social anxiety long before a social situation takes place.

This is crucial to understand!  If you can reduce the amount of thinking and negative imagery about a social situation before it happens, then you will be more calm, relaxed and confident in that social situation.

Emotional

The cognitive components (how you think and imagine) will generate distinct feelings and emotions. These include feeling very self-conscious in social situations. Or feeling afraid of being watched, judged, or embarrassed.

The emotional components can also occur before a social situation. You might worry about a specific social event long before it happens.

Behavioral

This is doing or not doing a certain behavior that other people might notice.

Social anxiety behaviors could include avoiding eye contact, fluffing up certain words, being quiet in meetings or making mistakes when others are watching you.

Just as important is NOT doing a certain behavior or action. For example, not attending a party, avoiding presentations or not making tough phone calls.

This component also includes using alcohol or drugs to calm your nerves, so you feel better and act more confidently in social situations.

The behavioral component only occurs during the social anxiety situation.  The only exception is using alcohol or drugs beforehand to get the desired state by the time the social situation arises.

How to Overcome Social Anxiety

To overcome social anxiety effectively, it is essential that you address the physiological, cognitive, emotional and behavioral components.  The ways I’m about to cover will help you do that.

1. Slow and Deep Breathing

Breathing slowly and deeply will reduce the physiological symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms or shaky hands that I mentioned earlier.

When you’re feeling anxious, you breathe more quickly. This causes higher levels of oxygen to flood your body. This can throw it off balance. Your body will compensate by increasing your heart rate, tensing muscles and displaying the other physical symptoms of anxiety that I mentioned earlier.

So breathing slowly and deeply will help regain the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body and reduce the physical symptoms of social anxiety. 

Here is a simple and effective deep breathing exercise.

  1. Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest
  2. Breathe in for 4 seconds, noticing your hand on the stomach rising, but not the hand on your chest.  This ensures that you are using your diaphragm to breathe.
  3. Hold the breath for 2 seconds
  4. Breathe out over 6 seconds, noticing the hand on your stomach moving inwards, rather than the hand on your chest.
  5. Repeat for a few minutes until you feel calmer and more centered.

Deep breathing is a highly effective way to reduce social anxiety in the moment.  It’s a “band-aid” as it doesn’t address the causes. It merely reduces the symptoms. The other ways that I’m about to cover will help address the causes of social anxiety. However, deep breathing is very effective and a great way to calm your nerves.

Related Article

Rapid Relaxation Exercise

2. Change Negative Thoughts

This and the 2 ways that follow will help you overcome social anxiety by addressing the cognitive component.  This is the way you think and imagine social situations. Changing the cognitive component will indirectly influence the emotional component too.

Negative thoughts lead to uncomfortable feelings, and this causes social anxiety. Therefore, identifying and changing these thoughts is a great place to start for long-term positive change.

It starts by knowing what these thoughts are.  The best way to do this is to write out the negative thoughts on paper. Getting those thoughts out of your head and onto paper will help you see these thoughts much more clearly.

 Here are some examples.

  • I don’t know what to say,
  • What if they don’t like me?
  • What if they find me boring?

You can now analyze these negative thoughts, challenge them, and identify alternative positive thoughts. 

For “I don’t know what to say”, you can identify and memorize some basic questions to ask whenever you need too. Questions about their career, hobbies, holidays or kids work well.  People love talking about these things.

The thought “What if they don’t like me?” could be changed to “If they don’t like me, I’ll congratulate myself for trying and move on to someone else.”

You could change “What if they find me boring?” to “I know that I’m interesting and that will come across to other like-minded people”.

The alternative thoughts don’t have to be super-positive. However, they should give you more options and possibilities.

3. Challenge Unhelpful Thinking Styles

This is similar to changing negative thoughts, but it goes a little deeper. It involves identifying and then changing the underlying thoughts and beliefs. The ones behind the specific negative thoughts that occur in different social situations.

Behind all these negative thoughts are some underlying ways of thinking.  These are known as cognitive distortions or thinking traps. There are 3 cognitive distortions that influence social anxiety.  These are mind reading, fortune telling and catastrophizing. Let’s look at these in greater detail.

Mind Reading

Mind reading is knowing what other people are thinking when there is no evidence to prove it. Here are 2 examples.

  • She hates me.
  • Others think I’m stupid.

It’s impossible to read another person’s mind. We have no way of knowing exactly what someone else is thinking. We may get clues from their facial expression or what they say, but we don’t know for sure.

The solution is to be a detective and disprove these thoughts by asking questions.  A good question is “how do I know?  For example, “how do I know she hates me?” or “how do I know that others think I’m stupid?” 

Or ask “what did this person say or do that makes me think that?”

In most cases, it will be very difficult to answer these questions.  That’s a good thing! Not being able to answer them is proof that these thoughts are not an accurate reflection of what is actually happening.

When you know that these thoughts are not true or accurate, it’s much easier to let them go.

Fortune Telling

Fortune telling is predicting the future negatively. It’s believing that the future will turn out badly. Here are 2 examples.

  • I know I’ll mess up my interview.
  • No one will talk to me at this party.

Being a questioning detective is great for disproving these thoughts too.  For example, “How do I know that I will mess up this interview?”

You could challenge the second example by saying “No one?”  How do you know that no one will talk to you at this party? It’s impossible to predict that.

Catastrophizing

Catastrophizing is thinking or imagining worst-case scenarios. It’s magnifying errors, fears and imperfections. For example, “If I flunk this presentation, my life is over”.

As with the previous cognitive distortions, the solution is to question it.  You could simply say “really?” and see what new thoughts arise.

Or ask, “what exactly will change in my life if I flunked this presentation? It’s unlikely you would lose your job over it. What would change, if anything?

How about asking the opposite positive question?  For example, “what would happen to my life if I did an amazing presentation?

Questioning and challenging any thoughts within these thinking traps will help you overcome social anxiety by dealing with the underlying thoughts. 

There are 12 thinking traps or cognitive distortions in total. The others are less relevant to social anxiety. However, if they interest you, then this article covers all of them.

Related Article

The 12 Common Thinking Traps that Steal Your Happiness

4. Change Your Internal Self-Talk

What you say to yourself and how you say it, influences the energy you give out. Other people pick up on this energy unconsciously.

Changing What You Say

Common phrases that people think or say to themselves during social situations include:

  • People don’t like me.
  • People don’t think I’m interesting or funny.
  • I can’t wait to get out of here.
  • This is uncomfortable.
  • This is really terrible!

How do you think self-talk like this will influence the energy you give out?  Certainly not in a good way. Imagine the most socially confident person who you know.  Would they say these things to themselves? Highly unlikely!

How you change negative self-talk is similar to how you change negative thoughts. So the information covered earlier in this article will help you. This includes analyzing any negative self-talk, challenging it and replacing it with new positive self-talk.

Here are some examples of positive self-talk to replace the examples mentioned above.

  • I’m a good person and I know that some people will like me.
  • I know that I’m interesting and this will come across to other people.
  • I’ll enjoy this social situation and I’ll make new friends and I’ll stay here until the end.
  • I have felt uncomfortable before, but I know that when I take action it feels great.

“This is terrible”, might require a question to challenge and change it. For example, “how exactly is this terrible and what could I do to make it better?”

So if you can’t come up with alternative positive phrases, then ask questions to challenge the negative self-talk instead.

Changing How You Say It

As important as what you say is the tone and volume used to say it. Although this self-talk is in your own head and no one actually hears it, there is a tone and volume that you can change.

Negative self-talk often sounds very authoritarian. It sounds like a teacher or parent. If that’s the case, make the tone more friendly.  Change the voice to your best friend, your favorite celebrity, a comedian or even a naughty French waitress! Try it now. It will feel different!

Although self-talk is silent, your perception of how loud it is varies immensely.  When you’re relaxed, chilling out, any self-talk seems very quiet in your mind.  When you’re in a social situation that feels uncomfortable, that voice in your head will seem very loud. 

However, you can change the volume and it’s easy to do. Let’s try it now. Imagine you have a remote control and you’re pressing the button that reduces the volume. Notice the self-talk getting quieter in your mind as you do that.

You can change the tone and volume of positive self-talk too.  Make it sound like Tony Robbins is saying it! Now make the positive self-taught louder and more exciting.

Using positive self-talk regularly and especially during social situations will increase the belief in your ability to overcome social anxiety. It increases the belief that you are confident and comfortable in social situations.

You then radiate positive energy. You have a distinct presence and more confident body language. Other people pick up on this. They will naturally want to talk to you and will feel good in your company.

I highly recommend using positive self-talk before and definitely during any social situation. I’m confident it will make a tremendous difference in helping you overcome social anxiety.

Related Article

How to Tame Your Negative Internal Voice

5. Creative Visualization

Creative Visualization is a powerful way to help you overcome social anxiety. It’s part of the cognitive component, but focuses on your imagination rather than your thoughts. 

Are you aware of imagining certain social situations going badly? This is very common and unconscious to many people.  However, it’s a big contributor to your feelings of social anxiety. 

To turn this around, imagine or visualize each social situation going perfectly. Imagine your presentation going really well. Or having a wonderful conversation with a new person. How about imagining going to your manager to ask for a pay rise and getting it!

When visualizing, bring in other senses such as hearing and feeling. When imagining a great presentation, hear the audience clapping or cheering. Also notice your positive self-talk and how you now feel. If relevant, bring in taste and touch too.

Finally, make your visualization as big as possible.  Imagine watching this on an enormous cinema screen.

Related Articles

10 Steps to Transform Your Creative Visualization Skills

A Powerful Creative Visualization Exercise for Rapid Change

6. Focus More on Other People

We have addressed the physical symptoms of social anxiety with the deep breathing exercise. I then shared 3 ways to help deal with the thoughts that create this anxiety in the first place. I’ve also covered creative visualization to combat imagining social situations going badly.

The next 3 ways will focus on how to overcome social anxiety by changing your behaviour. These are about taking different actions in social situations.

The first one is focussing more on others.  When you do this, you take the focus off yourself and get out of your own head. Your brain cannot think about you and someone else at the same time. Focussing on others also quietens the internal dialogue or self-talk in your head.

To focus more on others, become curious and genuinely interested in what they want to say. An effective way to do this is to ask questions.

As I mentioned earlier, come up with a list of basic questions that you can ask. Include questions about their career, family, hobbies or holidays. People love talking about their favorite subject, which is themselves! 

Be careful not to overdo it with the questions. Otherwise it will seem more like an interview or interrogation exercise! I’ve done this myself in the past. Instead, share a little about you, but make the primary focus of the conversation to be about them.

You want to be totally present with the other person.  This is not thinking or worrying about what to say next. It’s not feeling annoyed about, or regretting something that you’ve just said. It’s listening intently and being totally engaged with the other person.

Anything you can do to help the other person feel better will be beneficial to both of you.  Giving compliments is a wonderful way to do that. 

With around 12% of people experiencing social anxiety regularly, this means that every 9th person you speak to is likely to feel the same way as you.  Giving compliments and helping them feel relaxed in your company will help them feel more comfortable with you.

7. Set Goals and Intentions

Most people go into social situations with no specific goal in mind. They then feel anxious and the social event is a disappointment. This happens time and time again and you feel that you are not making any progress in your efforts to overcome social anxiety.

Setting some goals and intentions before each social situation can help you change things for the better.

Here are some simple goals for an office party.

  • I will talk to 5 new people at the office party.
  • I will talk to 4 people that I already know and find something new about them.
  • I will enjoy myself and feel good, regardless of what other people say or do.

And two examples for other situations

  • I will ask a question in the next meeting.
  • I will always say hi to people in authority, when I pass them in the corridor.

When you achieve these simple goals, reward yourself! If it’s at the office party, get another drink or some food.

8. Face Your Fears

Ultimately, its fear that drives social anxiety, It’s the fear of being rejected, judged, negatively evaluated or embarrassed.

The solution is to confront the fear.  To feel the fear and do it anyway! When you take action despite fear, you’ll get a wonderful feeling of elation and aliveness after you’ve conquered the fear.  This has happened to me many times.

Facing and overcoming your fears is key to achieving success in overcoming social anxiety. When you don’t face your fears, you’ll get feelings of regret later on. You’ll regret lost opportunities and things you didn’t accomplish because of fear.

When you don’t confront your fears, they become scarier in your mind. Your perception of the fear gets bigger and bigger. This feeds into social anxiety and can cause it to get worse over time.

If tackling your biggest social anxiety fears head-on seems daunting, then break them down into baby steps. This will make an enormous difference and make any fears much smaller and more manageable.

Every time you take action to accomplish one of these baby steps, your confidence will improve and you will find it easier to take on the next step.

Here is an example of baby steps to help overcome a fear of talking to new people.

  1. Talk to someone new when accompanied by a friend or colleague.
  2. Talk to the person next to you at a corporate dinner function or in a meeting or seminar.
  3. Talk to someone that is not talking to anyone. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your company.
  4. Join a group of 2 people that are already talking. Say nothing, just listen and smile.
  5. Join a group of 2 people that are already talking and add to the conversation.
  6. Talk to someone from the opposite sex (if that’s a fear for you).

I encourage you right now to identify your biggest social anxiety fear. Then break it down into manageable steps, then act on each step in turn. You’ll then overcome smaller fears one by one. This will really help you overcome social anxiety.

To Conclude

Overcoming social anxiety takes time, so be gentle with yourself and implement one step at a time. In this article, I’ve covered 8 ways in detail.  However, I encourage you to start with 1 or 2 of these methods. Once you’re comfortable and seeing results, add another approach.  When you act consistently, it’s amazing how quickly you notice the differences and benefits.

If you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful, please leave a comment or question below.  I would love to hear what you think!   Please also click on the stars below to rate this post. Also, feel free to share this article with other people or on social media.

Have you ever wondered what the most successful people do? The ones that are truly happy, fulfilled and prosperous? Well, I reveal this in my 10 Strategies for Your Success eBook. It’s a great read and as a treat for reading this article, it’s yours for free!

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Thank you for reading this article.  I hope you are having a wonderful day!

Paul

There are so many practical ways to relieve anxiety quickly.  These include mindfulness, meditation, having a relaxing bath, or having a massage. They’re all great to do, but they only deal with the symptoms, not the root mental causes. In this article, I’m going to cover a number of ways to relieve anxiety quickly by dealing with the root causes.

Thinking and Imagining what could go wrong

To be anxious, you have to imagine or think about something in the future going badly. If you think it will go well or normally, then you won’t feel anxious. You will probably feel confident instead. Look back on past events or things you were anxious about.  How did they actually turn out? – My guess is probably okay.

Now think about something that you’re anxious about in the future.  Based on previous events, how do you think it will turn out? Probably okay as well.

Here is an example to help you understand this. Recently, I was at Sydney Airport waiting for my luggage. I had been waiting for 10 or 15 minutes and most people already had their bags by this time.  I started thinking, “I don’t think my bag is going to turn up.” Then, “what if” questions such as “what happens if my bag doesn’t turn up?”. Then more thoughts like “how am I going to deal with that?”

I realized that this thinking was making me feel anxious, so I reminded myself that I’ve been on about 70 flights over the last 20 years. On every flight, the bags have always turned up! – That’s the most likely outcome.

If I had kept thinking about the bag not turning up, that was just going to make me more anxious. So instead, I started thinking about the bag turning up. I even visualized it showing up on the conveyor belt!  For those next 5 to 10 minutes while I was waiting for the bag, I felt more comfortable and more relaxed. Sure enough, the bag did show up, which was what I was expecting all along.

Here are some tips to help you relieve anxiety quickly by changing your focus of attention.

Spend time consciously focusing on how you would like something to go. It doesn’t have to be super-positive.  Turning out okay is fine. A good time to do this is first thing in the morning when you get up.

When you feel anxious, notice what you are imagining or saying to yourself. Then, ask yourself, “Is thinking or imagining this going to make you feel any better?” Questioning is really powerful. It gets your mind to focus on the solution.

Imagine going 45 minutes into the successful completion of whatever it is you’re worried about. Notice what you notice, and notice how you feel when you do that.

Ask yourself, “How likely is the worst case scenario?” If the worst case scenario is quite likely, then make plans to deal with it, so you have a contingency. If it’s highly unlikely, then it’s much better to stop focusing on it and to focus on something else instead. Remember, 95% of what you fear or worry about never happens! You need to have this distinction in your mind as to what is probable (likely to happen) and what is possible but unlikely to happen.

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Separate Anxiety from Your Sense of Identity

I wonder if you have ever said these to yourself? –  “I am an anxious person”, or “I’m always anxious.”

If that’s you, then remember that anxiety is something you do, it’s not something you are. It’s a feeling. It’s not part of your identity.

Here are some ideas to change this and help relieve anxiety quickly in the process.

Add the phrase “except when you’re not.” For example “I’m always anxious, except when you are not“. If you think about it, I’m sure there are many times when you are not anxious. We just never think about those times.  Adding the phrase “except when you’re not”, reminds your brain that anxiety is something you do, NOT something you are.  Thank Bill O’Hanlon for this one.

Think about all the other things that you are besides an anxious person.  Perhaps you’re a parent, husband, wife, doctor, dentist, lawyer, electrician, chef, dog lover or cat lover.  See if you can list 20 other things are you also are.  If being an anxious person is only 5% of who you are, then that really puts it into perspective.

Think of anxiety as a feeling, rather than part of who you are.  Rather than say, “I am anxious,” say “I feel anxious,” or “I am feeling anxious.”

Overthinking

It’s pretty hard to be anxious if you don’t overthink things. They go hand in hand.

Overthinking doesn’t need to be negative thinking. It can be planning, strategizing or weighing up options. However, if you keep thinking of the same things over and over again, you’re going to feel anxious.

How do you know when you’re thinking but NOT overthinking?   A useful amount of thinking will normally lead you to a decision or some kind of action to solve the problem. An excessive amount of thinking will usually keep you stuck in the problem.

If you find that you’re thinking the same things over and over again and not taking any action or getting a solution, that’s a clue that you’re probably overthinking something.

Here are some tips to help you relieve anxiety quickly by reducing or stopping overthinking.

Notice “what if” questions and answer them.

People that overthink things, often come up with “what if” questions, but they don’t answer them!

For example, if you were feeling anxious about a presentation you might have a thought like “What if I mess up my words in my presentation today”

Here are some possible answers:

  • Some people could laugh
  • Other people might help, support and encourage you
  • Other people may empathize with you.
  • Some people will be relieved that it’s you talking and not them!
  • Other people will not even notice that you messed up your words.

So by answering the “what if” questions, you start to focus on solutions or contingencies. For example, If somebody does laugh, you can decide how you would deal with them laughing. You’ll be prepared for it and have a way to deal with it.

Allocate specific “worry-time”

Allocate a specific time to think or worry about situations.  When this time is up, imagine putting those worries into little boxes and locking them. You could have separate boxes for work worries, money worries, relationship worries, health worries etc.

When it’s not “worry-time” and an anxious thought comes into your mind, say, “Not right now.” The anxious thoughts will come up often to start with, so be persistent with saying “Not right now” It will take a while to train your brain to respond to this.

If you find that worries keep you awake at night, then this is a great exercise to do just before going to sleep. You can do this by visualizing a very calming and relaxed room with little boxes on the wall.  Then imagine putting your work worries into a box and locking it, then repeating the process with money worries, relationship worries etc.

When all your anxious thoughts are safely in the correct boxes, imagine putting the keys to the boxes somewhere safe.   Somewhere where there is no chance of anything coming out of those boxes until the following morning. Maybe put the keys under your pillow, if that works well for you.  I have found this to be one of the best ways to relieve anxiety quickly.

Dealing with Uncertainty

We cannot predict the result of anything we do with 100% accuracy. Life would actually be quite boring if we could.

Imagine going to a soccer or rugby match knowing exactly which team would win. That would be quite boring. It would be like watching a recording of the match on TV the following day when you already know what the result is.

Or what about taking part in a competition where you had a 100% chance of winning. I don’t think the feeling of winning would be quite the same if it was guaranteed.

So uncertainty is actually a good thing. It’s what makes life fun, exciting and enjoyable.   The problem comes when the uncertainty is negative.

How do you deal with negative uncertainty in a way that will relieve anxiety quickly? – Well, one thing that really helps is a good level of self-confidence. I believe that confidence is the opposite of anxiety.

If life is uncertain, what can you be certain about? – We can be certain about having the confidence to do our best and the confidence to handle whatever happens.

Long-term Focus

In the longer term, things are much more predictable. If you eat the right foods consistently for months or years, then the chances are very likely that you will have a healthy life.

Same with mental health. If you focus on being grateful, think positive and take action on your goals and dreams, then in a few years’ time, you’re far more likely to be successful and happier than someone who doesn’t do that.  So as you can see, in the long term, results are actually quite predictable.  Uncertainty is really a short-term issue in most instances.

Knowing what is within your control

People that feel anxious worry a lot about things that are outside of their control. This is especially true when other people are involved.  Remember that you can influence others, but you cannot directly control them.

Ask yourself, “Can I really control the outcome, or can I only influence it?

Focus on the things that you can control. When that involves other people, do the best you can.  Then be okay with whatever the outcome is in that situation, knowing that you’ve done your best.

Just the simple shift of knowing what is within your control and what isn’t can really help relieve anxiety quickly.

Taking Action

Thinking too much about something can lead you to overwhelm, indecision, and procrastination. A good thing to remember is that thinking is not doing.

I encourage you to look at situations that are making you feel anxious, and ask yourself, “What have I done in the last week to make this situation better?” or “What have I done in the last week to deal with it better in some way?” If the answer is not a lot, then taking some kind of action, even if it’s not the best option, will help you replace anxiety with feelings of confidence.

If something seems overwhelming, break it down into steps, and then do the first step today and notice how the anxiety feelings start to wash away.

Focus on the External World and Other People

This is really about getting out of your own head. I have found that anxiety tends to be an inside job. It involves spending too much time thinking about your problem and not being in the present.

Instead, become more aware of the external world. When you’re walking, notice the flowers in people’s gardens. Notice what other people are doing. Notice the sky and clouds. Really notice what is happening around you.

Focus and be more grateful for the things you do have. Notice the problems that other people have, and share empathy for them. Help them if you can. Helping others will make you feel better, but more importantly, it gets you out of your own head and this really helps relieve anxiety quickly.

Focus on the Skills, Abilities and Experience that you DO Have

People with anxiety feelings tend to overestimate risk and overestimate the things that can go wrong.  They underestimate what they can actually do about it and their level of confidence to deal with it successfully.

Think about past anxious situations that you have dealt with successfully, and ask yourself, “How did I overcome similar obstacles in the past?” or “Where else in my life have I used the skills, abilities, and experiences that I could use now?” or “How have I handled these things in the past?”

Maybe you didn’t handle them as well as you would have liked. However, still focus on how you did handle them, and then use some of those skills and abilities and apply them to this situation.  Then notice how this can relieve your anxiety quickly.

Perfectionism

It’s natural to want to perform well and to the best of your ability.  To be as effective as you can. However, could you be putting too much pressure on yourself?

Being a perfectionist is essential in some occupations. You would want your brain surgeon to be a perfectionist! However, in many situations, being good and doing something to the best of your ability is more important (and less anxiety-producing) than being an absolute perfectionist.

It’s more important to make progress and improve as you go along. If you’re a writer, ask yourself, “Would it be better to have four books that are 80% perfect rather than one book that is 100% perfect?” How many more people would benefit from four books that are 80% perfect than the one book that’s absolutely 100%.

You don’t have to be perfect at everything!

Think about the things in life that don’t have to be perfect. Things like housework, ironing or preparing food.  These don’t have to be absolutely perfect. It’s not an all or nothing situation.

Focus on the things that really need to be perfect and make them perfect.  For everything else, focus on making them good enough. This will help you reduce anxiety and stress generally.

If you’re the kind of person that requires everything in your life to be absolutely perfect, then you are going to suffer from a high level of anxiety.  If that’s you, take on this idea of being a perfectionist of some things and notice how this helps you relieve anxiety quickly.

Become an Internal Control Freak

Trying to control everything externally in your life is exhausting and simply not possible. So I suggest that you let go of the things that you can’t control. Instead, you can become an internal control freak! – A control freak for your mind!

There are a number of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques that can help you to become an internal control freak. Here are a few of them.

If you have a lot of internal dialogue or self-talk, try turning down the volume of the self-talk. Although this dialogue is in your head, it can often be perceived as sounding quite loud. Imagine turning down the volume of this internal dialogue.  If you can, stop reading and do this now!   Make it really quiet and notice how your feelings change.

Internal dialogue or self-talk can sometimes be perceived as very authoritarian. This possibly came from teachers at school or your parents, who needed to be very authoritarian at times to keep you out of trouble.

Listen to your self-talk.  If it sounds authoritarian, make it sound naughty instead. A naughty female French accent works really well for many people!  Imagine saying the thing that’s making you anxious with a naughty French accent. What might that be like?  This can be a fun way to relieve anxiety quickly.

Also, watch your language! Looking out for non-choice words such as “I should”, “I must” or “I have to,”.  These words indicate a lack of choice and sound quite authoritarian too. Use words such as “I could”, “I can” or “I choose to.” instead.  This will give you the feeling of having choices and options which is probably closer to reality anyway.

If you often imagine things going wrong, then make the images smaller and in black and white. This will help reduce the anxiety feelings.

So experiment with the above NLP techniques and notice how these can help you relieve anxiety quickly.

So these are my strategies for helping you relieve anxiety quickly in your life by dealing with the root causes. There is a lot of practical information here and I really encourage you to apply as many of these tips as you can. They will help you immensely if you work on them consistently.

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Thank you for reading this article.  Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Paul