There is a simple and easy (oh and scientifically proven) way to instantly reduce your levels of social anxiety.
A study found that by employing this technique, people were less socially anxious and less likely to avoid the anxiety provoking situation.
I’m talking about acts of kindness.
Researchers found that carrying out a kind act prior to a social engagement created a more positive expectation of the social event. Participants felt better, more optimistic and were more likely to expect the situation to turn out well.
Not only this, but it’s likely that doing something kind for someone has the effect of distracting the attention away from you – and your anxiety – and on to the other person.
I want to make it clear that this is not about being a push over, or being saccharine sweet in the hopes that they’ll like you, or changing yourself to be more likeable to the people.
It’s simply a proven method for making those social situations easier to handle, meaning that you’ll be less likely to avoid them. The more you put yourself into those social situations and prove to yourself that you can, indeed, handle them, the more your social confidence is going to grow.
If you still need convincing – a decrease in social anxiety isn’t the only benefit of random acts of kindness. It boosts our feelings of wellbeing, lowers stress and even strengthens your immune system. These sound like pretty good side effects to me!
Here are some ideas I had for kind acts you could try.
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
Offer to help out – Help the host or hostess with something; pass out snacks at the party, be on hand to make the cocktails or help with handing out name tags at the networking event.
A LITTLE SOMETHING GOES A LONG WAY
Bring a small gift – My friend once gave out stickers and glitter to everyone at a party where we didn’t know anyone (and she basically made friends with everyone as a result).
Get the coffees in at a meeting or make the tea.
GIVE A COMPLIMENT
Give a (sincere + genuine!) compliment – do you like their outfit, did
you read their book and love it, can you pass on a compliment
about them that came from a mutual friend?
PRESENCE IS A GIFT
Give someone the gift of your full attention. Truly seeing,
hearing and listening to another person has got to be the
biggest act of kindness there is. Not only will they love the fact
that you find them so intriguing and interesting, but as you
focus on them, you’ll be distracted away from yourself and
your own anxious thoughts and feelings.