College life can seem pretty intimidating to students with social anxiety. From making new friends to collaborating in group presentations, interaction is a daily occurrence. You may find yourself having trouble participating in class, asking for help, or getting involved on campus. It’s okay; you are not alone. No matter the degree to which social anxiety impacts your day-to-day, we’ve got some ways to cope:
1. Know your triggers
You don’t need to conquer all of your fears at once. Write down all of your challenges and work on them one at a time. It can be something small like smiling at people you pass on campus. Then, you can work up to something bigger like joining a club where you don’t know anybody.
The more you practice, the easier social interaction will be. Start out by talking to people in low pressure situations. Think: introducing yourself to someone in line at the grocery store. Approaching just one person will be much less intimidating than talking to a group of people.
3. Join clubs that focus on an area of interest
You already have something in common with everyone in the club! That’s an instant icebreaker. Let your enthusiasm for beekeeping or acappella lead the way. Read this article to learn more about making friends in college.
4. Learn basic conversational skills
This includes maintaining eye contact, asking questions about the other person’s interests, keeping things light, and so on. By having these skills in your back pocket, you can enter any social interaction with confidence.
5. Keep your support system close
Whether it be your friends from high school or your parents back home, let them know what’s going on with you. When times get tough, it really does take a village. Though it’s great to keep in touch with people back home, try to stay on campus as much as possible. Naturally, if you go home too often, your transition into college will be more difficult.
6. Journal and reflect
After each social interaction, write down how you felt and what you learned. You may find that most of your fears never actually occur. By reflecting, you can pinpoint where your social anxiety originates. Some things for you to try: Visualize yourself succeeding at whatever situation is causing you anxiety. Come up with a plan or a self-care routine to perform when your fears return. That way, you will be prepared.
7. Pay attention to your relationship with alcohol
For many college students, partying plays a role in the social scene on campus. For individuals that suffer from social anxiety, it’s tempting to overindulge in alcohol to take the edge off. If you find that you need to drink to make it through social situations, it may be time to seek treatment.
8. Know that you don’t have to do this alone
Seek professional help if your social anxiety is interfering with your daily life and happiness. There is no shame in taking care of your mental health. In fact, it should be a priority. Check out your health center for counselors and therapists. Even if you aren’t ready to take that step, know that professional help is always an option.