How to Concentrate When You Are Socially Anxious

People who are socially anxious may have trouble concentrating when in social or performance situations. You may find your mind inwardly focused on your symptoms rather on what is going on around you.

Breathe Properly

One way to maintain concentration is by breathing properly. If your breaths are shallow and poor you will become increasingly  flustered, anxious, and unable to concentrate. Every time you find your thoughts going off track, take a moment to slow down your breathing.

Deep belly breaths will both calm you down and let you focus better.

Focus on Your Intention

Perhaps your goal is to spend 30 minutes at a party or give a five-minute speech. Improve your concentration in the moment by repeating your intention to yourself. For example, repeat in your head "I will stay for 30 minutes," or "I will complete this speech." Centering yourself in this way and focusing on your goal will shift your thoughts away from social and performance anxiety in the moment.

Practice Meditation

Meditation helps calm your mind and become more aware of your thoughts, allowing you to distance yourself from them and achieve inner peace. Meditation is usually done in a quiet place away from other distractions, but ultimately it can be done anywhere. If you've never tried meditation before, this can be one way to gain the ability to concentrate during times of social anxiety and stress.

Get Regular Exercise

Exercise can aid concentration during stressful times. If you've got a big party to attend, try hitting the gym for an hour prior to heading out. Physical exertion will help to reduce feelings of stress, which may enable you to better relax and focus on the present moment. Some types of physical activity may even offer a chance to develop concentration skills while under stress, such as sports that require focused attention or performing as part of a team.

Practice Concentrating

Repeatedly put yourself in stressful social or performance situations to increase your ability to concentrate during stressful times. Avoidance only increases your inability to cope in these types of situations. As long as you have a toolkit of skills in place to cope when socially anxious, the more practice you can get, the better.

Think of it like riding a bike or driving a car. At first, it took all of your concentration to learn how to balance or to use the instruments and pedals. Gradually, as you got better at various tasks, more of your mental capacity was freed up to concentrate on other things.

Improve Your Diet

A poor diet that does not provide you with adequate nutrients or that is laden with sugar or caffeine may contribute to your anxiety and difficulty concentrating in stressful situations. Make sure that you eat a balanced diet and avoid consuming items that may trigger your anxiety.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting a good night's rest is pivotal. If you are tired all the time, your ability to focus and concentrate during stressful situations will be reduced.

In summary, in order to improve you ability to focus outward rather than on anxious feelings during times of stress, it is important to make sure you have a foundation of physical and mental strength. Building your strength will give you a better ability to cope with stress and react less to anxiety triggers. Rather than go into social and performance situations at a disadvantage, give yourself a better shot! Then, once you have a foundation in place, make sure to put yourself into these types of situations often to practice your skills and develop a better ability to cope.

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