It's the start of a new school year - making new friends, new roommates, group projects, class presentations and everyday interactions can contribute to high anxiety for college students. It can be hard not to feel overwhelmed with the countless opportunities to socialize in the first weeks of a new school semester - but you're not alone.
What is Social Anxiety?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, social anxiety is "an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others." In America, over 15 million adults struggle with social anxiety - it is one of the most common mental health issues on college campuses.
As a college student, I dreaded speaking during class presentations. Despite practicing, I'd find myself panicking when it was my turn to speak.
I discovered that reaching out to my professors beforehand and making an effort to connect with them before the presentation helped immensely. Some would provide alternative assignments or recommend books for dealing with social anxiety. However, because I knew that avoiding public speaking would not be a realistic option for me, I chose to change my relationship with public speaking through CBT, or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Through CBT, I learned that my thoughts around socializing and public speaking weren't always constructive. I learned to replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations and mantras.
Although I still experience some anxiety around leading groups and workshops as a facilitator, I have learned to reframe my anxiety and find gratitude for it. I accept that I will probably make a mistake during my presentation - but it doesn't make me a horrible public speaker - rather, it gives me an opportunity show my authentic, imperfect self.
OOTers, how do you cope with social anxiety?