You've successfully subscribed to Kick Health Blog
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Kick Health Blog
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.
How To Overcome Social Anxiety—An In-Depth Guide

How To Overcome Social Anxiety—An In-Depth Guide

Social anxiety can be a heavy burden, making even the simplest social interactions overwhelming. The good news is that with understanding, patience, and the right strategies, it’s possible to manage and even overcome social phobia.

This guide explains how to overcome social anxiety using cognitive-behavioral techniques, mindfulness-based strategies, and medication. You’ll also learn how to challenge negative thoughts and build social skills, helping you cope with this unpleasant condition.

What Is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety—or social phobia—is a persistent fear of social situations. It makes a person feel uncomfortable during everyday interactions, such as meeting new people, speaking in public, or being observed by others. 

Social anxiety is rooted in the worry of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated in public. It’s not a case of “shyness” but a recognized mental health condition that can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.

To cope with the condition effectively, you should learn about the following:

  1. Causes of social anxiety
  2. Symptoms of social anxiety

What Causes Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is a complex condition stemming from many factors, including:

  • Genetics—People with a history of social phobia are more likely to have children with the condition than those with no such history
  • Environmental factors—Childhood experiences, such as having overprotective or hypercritical parents, can contribute to social anxiety
  • Traumatic events—Past humiliating or traumatic social events can trigger social phobia
  • Brain structureResearch suggests that social anxiety is linked to the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with emotions and detects threat cues

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety manifests in many ways, and the symptoms can vary among individuals depending on the specific situation. The symptoms can broadly be categorized into four groups:

  1. Physical
  2. Cognitive 
  3. Behavioral 
  4. Emotional

Check out the table below for more details about these symptoms:




  • Blushing

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

  • Nausea

  • Rapid heartbeat


  • Negative thoughts

  • Fear of embarrassment

  • Fear of being judged


  • Avoidance of social situations


  • Feelings of apprehension and dread

  • Panic attacks

  • Intense fear of social interactions

Everyone’s experience with social phobia is unique, and most patients may not experience all these symptoms. You could also have these symptoms without having social anxiety—especially if they occur occasionally, such as during public speaking or interviews.

If you experience the symptoms persistently, or they cause distress in your life, consult a mental health professional.

Lifestyle Changes To Help Overcome Social Anxiety

Lifestyle changes entail adopting healthy behaviors to regain control and confidence in social situations. Three habits that can help you cope with social phobia are:

  1. Exercising regularly
  2. Maintaining a healthy diet
  3. Practicing healthy sleep hygiene

Exercising Regularly

Source: Andrea Piacquadio 

Regular exercise can be effective for managing social phobia. Physical activity, such as aerobic exercise, decreases sensitivity to anxiety and promotes the growth of new neurons in key areas of the brain, alleviating anxiety symptoms. 

If you need a simple exercise schedule to follow, check out the table below:





Walking or jogging

30 minutes



30 minutes



30 minutes


Strength training

30 minutes



30 minutes





Any preferred

30 minutes

Maintaining a Healthy Diet

Your diet plays a significant role in your mental well-being. Several studies suggest that diets high in processed and fast food, as well as sugar, are more likely to increase anxiety than diets rich in complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and vegetables.

Maintaining a balanced diet optimizes your body’s metabolism and maintains stable serotonin levels, helping manage social anxiety.

Practicing Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene is essential for managing anxiety. Insomnia can affect our health and thoughts, creating a cycle of stress and worry and affecting our social interactions. 

There are many ways to improve your sleep quality, including:

  • Establishing a regular sleep schedule
  • Creating a quiet and restful environment for sleep
  • Avoiding stimulants like coffee close to bedtime

Sufficient sleep can help stabilize your mood, calm your nerves, and make you more confident when interacting with others.

Below is a table of the recommended sleep hours by age, as suggested by the National Sleep Foundation:

Age Group

Recommended Hours of Sleep

Infants (4–12 months)

12–16 hours

Toddlers (1–2 years)

11–14 hours

Preschoolers (3–5 years)

10–13 hours

School-aged children (6–12 years)

9–12 hours

Teenagers (13–18 years)

8–10 hours

Adults (18+)

7–9 hours

Exposure Therapy for Dealing With Social Anxiety

Source: Kindel Media

Exposure therapy helps people confront their fears. It can be effective for social anxiety as it allows individuals to gradually face the social situations that they fear in a controlled and unintimidating manner.

The process involves creating a hierarchy of fears, starting from the least to the most anxiety-provoking situation. The individual gets gradually exposed to these situations, either in real life or through imagination, while learning to manage their anxiety responses.

For example, if you have social anxiety about public speaking, here are some exposure therapy tips to help you deal with it:

  • Occasionally imagine yourself giving a speech before a small audience
  • Try speaking in front of a small group of friends or family
  • Gradually, work your way up to larger audiences

Each step allows you to confront your fear in a manageable way, building confidence as you progress.

Cognitive Restructuring for Overcoming Social Anxiety

Cognitive restructuring involves identifying and challenging irrational thoughts that may contribute to symptoms of social anxiety. It’s a core component of cognitive behavioral therapy, a well-studied talk therapy that can be effective in treating many mental health conditions, including social anxiety. The goal of cognitive restructuring is to replace thought patterns that induce stress with more constructive ways of thinking. 

How Cognitive Restructuring Helps Overcome Social Phobia

This type of therapy can help you cope with social phobia by:

  • Developing self-awareness—Cognitive restructuring helps you recognize the automatic negative thoughts that arise in anxiety-inducing social situations. You might realize that you sometimes think, “I’ll embarrass myself” before a social event. Recognizing this thought is the first step toward managing it
  • Promoting rational thinking—Once you’ve identified negative thoughts, cognitive restructuring teaches you to challenge them. You might ask yourself, “Do I always embarrass myself at social events?” Chances are, the answer is no. It helps you see that your fear isn’t always rooted in reality
  • Enhancing emotional regulation—By challenging and changing negative thought patterns, the therapy can help you manage your emotional responses to social situations. Instead of feeling intense fear before a social event, you might feel a manageable level of nervousness
  • Boosting self-confidence—As you gain control over your thoughts, your confidence during social situations may increase. You may start to believe affirmations like “I can handle this event,” making it seem less stressful
  • Improving social skills—With reduced anxiety, you can focus on the situation rather than your fear, giving you the mental space to work on your social skills like making small talk or maintaining eye contact

Social Skills Training for Coping With Social Anxiety

Source: Mikhail Nilov

Social skills training (SST) is a therapeutic approach that aims to enhance an individual’s social skills. It provides the knowledge needed to cope with different social situations and can be effective in managing social phobia.

Some of the techniques used in SST are:

  • Role-playing—It involves practicing social scenarios to build confidence and improve responses. You could practice how to initiate a conversation at a party or respond when asked a question in a group setting
  • Modeling—This entails demonstrating appropriate social behavior for the individual to observe and learn, such as a therapist or peer demonstrating how to maintain eye contact during a conversation or how to use body language to appear more approachable
  • Feedback and reinforcement—Your therapist provides constructive feedback and positive reinforcement to encourage progress
  • Behavioral activation—It focuses on engaging individuals in activities they typically avoid due to social phobia. Your doctor may recommend attending a social event or speaking at an upcoming company meeting

How Social Skills Training Can Help Overcome Social Phobia

SST can be effective for overcoming social phobia, especially when combined with other methods. Some of the ways it can help you cope with the condition are:

  • Improving communication—SST can help you learn effective verbal and non-verbal communication techniques, enhancing your ability to express yourself and understand others in social situations
  • Building confidence—By practicing social skills in a safe environment, you can gain confidence in your abilities, reducing anxiety and making interactions with others less intimidating
  • Enhancing emotional understanding—SST can be effective in helping you understand your own and others’ emotions better, improving empathy and social connections and reducing feelings of isolation
  • Developing coping strategies—SST also teaches strategies needed to cope with social anxiety, such as relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring, and problem-solving skills
  • Promoting social engagement—SST encourages individuals to engage in social situations, providing opportunities to practice new skills and reduce avoidance behaviors

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction To Calm Social Anxiety

Source: Yan Krukau

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) combines mindfulness meditation and yoga to help manage stress, anxiety, and pain. Some of the techniques used in MBSR are:

  • Body scan—It entails mentally scanning your body and paying attention to different sensations. This technique can help you become more aware of physical reactions to anxiety, such as tense muscles or a racing heart
  • Sitting meditation—It involves focusing on your breath while letting thoughts and feelings come and go without judgment. Meditation can help you learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings of anxiety and fear, reducing their intensity and control over you
  • Mindful yoga—This technique combines physical postures with mindfulness. Your teacher may demonstrate how to stay present and calm in uncomfortable positions, similar to challenging social scenarios
  • Walking meditation—It entails focusing on the sensation of walking, individual steps, and your walking rhythm. If you’re dealing with social phobia, this can be a practical way to bring mindfulness into your daily life, helping you move forward despite fear and anxiety
  • Mindful breathing—An effective technique that involves focusing your attention on your breath while inhaling and exhaling slowly. It can be helpful in moments of acute social anxiety, providing a calming anchor

Using MBSR To Overcome Social Phobia

To use MBSR for overcoming social phobia, follow these steps:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to practice mindfulness without interruption. It could be a room in your house, a park, or any place where you feel calm and relaxed
  2. Begin your practice by focusing on your breath. Notice the sensation of the air entering and leaving your body. If your thoughts get diverted, gently refocus on your breath
  3. As you become more comfortable with this practice, start to incorporate body scans into your routine. Pay attention to any sensations, discomfort, or tension in your body. It can help you become more aware of physical reactions to anxiety
  4. Incorporate physical movement into your practice through mindful yoga. As you move through each pose, pay attention to how your body feels and how your breath flows to stay present and calm in uncomfortable situations
  5. Practice walking meditation as a way to bring mindfulness into your daily life. As you walk, focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground and the rhythm of your steps. It can help you move forward despite unpleasant feelings

Using Medication To Reduce Social Anxiety

Beyond therapy, your healthcare provider may recommend using medications to manage social anxiety. Each of the drugs works differently, but all these medications only alleviate the symptoms of social phobia without addressing the underlying causes.

Check out the table below for more information on the types of medications used in managing social anxiety:

Drug Type


Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

  • Paroxetine (Paxil)

  • Citalopram (Celexa)

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)


  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)

  • Lorazepam (Ativan) 


  • Propranolol (Inderal)

  • Atenolol (Tenormin)

How To Choose the Right Medication To Combat Social Anxiety

While medications can be effective for social phobia, results typically vary depending on the specific drug used and the patient’s health status. Since no drug is a one-size-fits-all solution, you should consider these guidelines to get the best treatment:

  • Consult a healthcare provider—Discuss your symptoms and concerns with your doctor. They can provide a proper diagnosis and help you understand your treatment options
  • Consider the side effects—All medications have potential side effects. Consult your doctor about the potential options to help you weigh their benefits and risks
  • Think about your lifestyle—Some medications may require you to avoid certain foods, alcohol, or other drugs. If you use specific substances or medications, inform your doctor

Some of these treatment methods can be intense, so you should consider stronger medications only if you have chronic general or social anxiety disorder. If you have occasional anxiety issues during exams, interviews, or when performing on stage, you may need less intense coping strategies and gentle medications like beta-blockers.

The biggest challenge is that the use of beta-blockers for performance anxiety is stigmatized, and some people shy away from telling their doctors the specific reason they need these medications.

The fantastic news is that telemedicine platforms like Kick allow you to consult healthcare professionals discreetly and get treatment tailored to your needs.

Source: Kampus Production

Kick—A Convenient Solution for Performance Anxiety

Kick is an online performance clinic with extensive experience in helping individuals cope with situational anxiety, as evidenced by glowing reviews on Trustpilot. Our program is designed for people with occasional anxiety and entails two beta-blockers:

  1. Propranolol
  2. Atenolol

Our doctor will prescribe the most appropriate drug depending on your health status and specific anxiety issues and provide clear instructions on how and when to take the medications—typically only as needed.

If you have specific concerns or questions, you can consult our doctor online to get the most out of the treatment.

How To Join Kick

To get started with Kick’s performance anxiety program, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the signup page to begin your brief consultation
  2. Fill us in on your health status and specific anxiety issues
  3. Enter your delivery and payment information

Your medication will be delivered in discreet packaging, making it convenient to take it wherever you are. If you choose express delivery, you’ll receive it within two days.

In case our team decides Kick isn’t the best solution for your specific issue, you won’t pay for the initial consultation, according to our Doctor Guarantee.

Featured image source: cottonbro studio