Having trouble in social events or giving presentations? Here are 8 tips that show you how to deal with social anxiety as a teenager!
A lot of the topics about social anxiety on the internet speak directly to parents, telling them how to help their teenager.
This is going to be directed towards teenagers themselves. After all, you are your own person and are the one actually dealing with it!
Before we get straight into the topics, let’s go over a few basics…
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is a mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. That’s the real definition of course.
Without the fancy wording though, it’s essentially a feeling of anxiety when you’re in social situations. Whether that’s a party or school presentation.
You may have feelings of fear, discomfort, self-conscious thoughts, and embarrassment. This is completely normal to experience as a teenager.
It may arise from previous family or school trauma, mostly from being judged or bullied by others.
But how do you know if you actually have it?
How Do I Know If I Have Social Anxiety?
If you have social anxiety as a teenager, a lot of these scenarios will sound familiar:
- You think people are always laughing at you
- You’re usually nervous to talk to people
- You avoid eye contact in conversations
- You hate making phone calls
- Starting conversations with new people seems impossible
- You replay previous conversations in your head
- You always feel like you’re being judged by others
If any of these resonate with you, then you might have some level of social anxiety.
It can be as severe as feeling judged just for how you cross a street, or it can be a more mild form where you get nervous in front of big crowds.
Either way, these are all common and normal feelings that can actually be worked on through implementing certain tips, going to therapy, or by facing your fears.
Related Post: How to Calm Yourself Down as a Teenager
Why You Should Deal With Social Anxiety as a Teenager
The fact that you are reading this is already a sign that you want to work on your social skills or at least limit some of your anxiety.
Here are a few reasons you might want to deal with your social anxiety:
- You want to be more social
- You don’t want to keep canceling plans with people
- You’re trying to overcome your fears
- It’s stopping you from being yourself
- Your future career requires lots of social interaction
- You want to work on your confidence
All of these are excellent reasons for you to want to learn some new tips that you can implement during your next social interaction.
How to Deal With Social Anxiety as a Teenager
Here are 8 tips to help you deal with social anxiety at school, home, or even at parties…
1) Talk to One Person in a Group
It’s easy to get your head spinning and stomach whirling when trying to speak to a group of friends/classmates.
Instead of trying to speak into empty space or to the whole group, focus on 1 person around you.
This will help your mind understand that the task at hand is not as bad as it seems and will allow you to focus on your words.
If you’re naturally introverted, this will be easier for you because you might already be really good at having 1 on 1 conversations (so treat it like one)!
Remember, groups of people don’t exist. It is just individual people that you have the ability to look at, see what they’re feeling, and have basic conversations with.
Next time you’re at a party or giving a presentation, I highly recommend you give this tip a try and see how it makes you feel.
Pro tip: It can help to look at a friend of yours within the group as the person you’re speaking to.
2) Bring Up Previous Conversation Topics
This is one of the best tips to deal with social anxiety as a teenager!
When you introduce yourself to a new person or group, starting basic conversation is always a great start.
Ask questions about class, sports, the clothes they’re wearing, etc. and the conversations will just go on naturally.
However, when you’re stuck in an awkward pause within a convo, bring up more questions about previously spoken topics.
This is called conversation threading. It’s essentially the practice of looking for more open ended questions within topics you’re already speaking about.
Trying to come up with new conversation starters on the spot is extremely difficult and can cause even more social anxiety.
It’s much easier to focus on current topics and ask real questions as if you were genuinely curious about what people are talking about.
Related Post: How to Be a Successful Teenager
3) Count to 3 and Go
We’ve all been in a situation where we’re constantly asking ourselves… “Should I introduce myself?”
Before your thoughts start spiraling unnecessarily, take a deep breath, count to 3, and just go for it!
If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it for the rest of the day. If you do it, you could end up making a great friend, classmate, or acquaintance!
An easy way to introduce yourself is by saying, “I don’t think we’ve met before… I’m John (or whatever your name is)”.
You can then follow up by giving them a compliment (people always love compliments and talking about themselves).
4) Work On Overcoming Your Fears
Easier said than done, I know.
Here’s a great place to start taking baby steps (tell yourself these things):
- Remind yourself that everyone else has anxiety too
- People love talking about themselves
- People want to meet you too
- Stand up straight and speak clearly
- Focus on 1 person at a time
When you have all of these little reminders in your head, start small by speaking to a friend of a friend.
You can also practice by making phone calls (a lot easier since you don’t have to be in front of them).
Another great way to start is by taking a friend with you everywhere you go in social situations. When a joke fails or you have nothing to say, you’ll always have them to fall back on!
5) Pretend That You’re Talking to Yourself
A common tip that therapists give to those with social anxiety is to pretend that you’re talking to yourself in conversations.
This will ease your conscience and make you feel more like yourself.
If you have social anxiety, chances are that you already talk to yourself when no one is around. Use that as a guide to help you speak that way to others.
A lot of times, feeling judged by others is a reflection of how you judge yourself. Let those insecurities remind you that everyone else has similar ones.
The less you try to impress others, the more you’ll impress others. Be yourself and talk to others as if you’re alone in your room.
Related Post: Advice for Teenagers (Valuable Life Tips for Teens)
6) Learn From Others
Have any friends or classmates that always seem comfortable in social situations?
Observe what they do and learn from it…
How are they postured? What kind of questions do they ask? What’s their body language like? How do they introduce themselves to new people?
These are all questions you can ask yourself when learning from the people around you.
Visual learning is used in all parts of life such as sports, comedy, school, etc. and social interaction is no exception!
Take what you’ve learned and start to slowly implement it into your social game. You might find that having conversations becomes a lot easier.
7) Control Your Breathing
It’s natural for us to lose control of our breath in social situations. It is our “fight or flight” response to deal with the anxiety and keep us out of “danger”.
If you focus on your breathing and control it when you’re feeling it get out of control, you can reduce that nervous feeling.
Control your breathing by trying to slow it down. Take deep breaths.
You will also appear more confident to others when you look relaxed in a conversation. It is a common psychological trick.
It will also help you speak much smoother and be able to talk for longer without feeling the need to choke or gasp for air regularly.
8) Have Conversation Starters on Hand
Going into anything in life with a plan is always a good idea. That includes social interactions!
Have a few good conversation starters along with some follow up questions to keep the convo going.
Remember, you’re not trying to interview anyone. These questions should be open ended and friendly.
Here is a massive list of conversation starters for teenagers to help you find your favorites.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Are you watching any shows right now?
- How are your classes going so far?
- I love your “clothing item“! Where did you get it?
- What school did you go to before this?
- Do you play any sports?
- I want to go on a vacation soon. Any ideas?
A lot of these questions are open ended and can easily lead into more detailed conversations.
The best questions are the ones that are specifically geared towards that person (such as a specific item they’re wearing), so always go for those first if you can.
Related Post: 10 High School Regrets I Had
Learning how to deal with social anxiety as a teenager is not the easiest thing in the world.
However, by implementing these tips, you will be so much closer to reducing that overall anxiety.
Remember to start small, but start! It’s truly the only way to progress (even if it’s slow).
Phone calls and FaceTimes are always simple ways to get started.
One more tip… work on your confidence (especially when going out). Dress to feel good and you’ll feel your best. This helps a ton when speaking to people.
Hopefully you’ve learned something new from these 8 tips!
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions leave them down below. Thanks for reading!