Socialphobia.org describes social anxiety as, “the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people.
As someone who suffers with social anxiety, university can be a stressful time. There are parties every weekend, you have to socialise with new people in lectures, seminars, and potentially even live with brand new people.
To try and help you here are a few small tips on how to combat the stress of making new friends…
Don’t Dress to Impress
As much as we all love dressing up when we’re going out, try to factor in comfort when picking an outfit. If you know you’re going to feel on edge all night in a miniskirt and crop top, ditch them for something which you feel safe in. This will help you feel more confident and will allow you to enjoy yourself rather than worrying if people are staring at you.
I’m sure you’re use to hearing this during your time at university, but it doesn’t have to relate to alcohol. In fact alcohol can make you feel worse and more on edge. Now I’m not saying to completely ditch the cocktails, I mean let’s be realistic, but if you’re starting feel panicky or stressed, it’s time to lay off the booze! Continuing to drink could make you feel much worse. Instead, ask for a glass of water and sip it. Nobody will judge you, and if they do, they’re not worth your time.
When heading into a new environment, go with at least one person you know relatively well. A good friend will happily act as a security blanket whilst you find your feet. Even if you don’t spend all night together you’ll feel better knowing they are there if you need them.
Social anxiety can be lonely and difficult to cope with on your own. Try and pick a few people you trust and talk to them. It can be a friend, a housemate, a parent, a trained counsellor, a teacher, or anybody! Having confidence will help you so much when you’re feeling overwhelmed or if you’re struggling. Don’t hold it in and suffer in silence.
We’re all guilty of doing this, but stop comparing yourself to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the street. Everybody is different. What works for someone else may not work for you, but that’s okay! You have your own style, your own skills, you are you and most importantly, you’re wonderful just as you are. As soon as you start to accept that and stop letting negative thoughts take over, you’ll make more room for happiness. Does this sound cheesy?