25 Things Every College Student Should Know About Dealing With Social Anxiety

    Anxiety doesn't have to hold you back.

    We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community and a few mental health experts to share the best ways to thrive in college when you're socially anxious.

    Everyone experiences social anxiety differently and has different triggers. Some people get anxious talking in front of groups, others get anxious meeting new people — and some get anxious about a million things in between. But one thing most people can agree on is that college can be a literal minefield for anyone with social anxiety.

    So here are some tips that might help with a little or a lot of what makes you anxious at school. For more general advice on protecting your mental health in college, check out this post.

    1. First, realize that social anxiety isn't all or nothing — so it's helpful to identify exactly what your triggers are.

    2. But whatever you do, don't avoid all the situations that make you anxious.

    3. Remind yourself that eating meals doesn't have to be a social event. No one cares if you're sitting alone.

    4. In fact, sitting alone might make it easier for other nice people to approach you.

    5. Learn a cool party trick that you can whip out in social situations.

    6. Leave the door open for people to socialize with you. Literally.

    7. Write down talking points before classes where participation counts toward your grade.

    8. Find your campus mental health center and check in with a therapist before you need one.

    9. Get participation points through asking questions instead of answering them.

    10. Lower your expectations for yourself in social situations, because chances are, they're way too high.

    11. Get a study group together for low-pressure socializing.

    12. Figure out what your social goals actually are.

    13. Then make a few small, attainable goals that will help you eventually achieve your bigger goal.

    14. Practice presentations during office hours before you have to do them in front of classmates.

    15. Always give yourself an extra 5–10 minutes to get places — and don't be afraid to do practice runs of routes so there are no surprises.

    16. Prepare an easy out for plans you're anxious about, just in case — like planning a coffee date right before a class or having your friend call with an "emergency" an hour into a party.

    "Part of my social anxiety involved being stressed about how I would leave a situation once I was in it and that I'd have to hang out with a person for hours because I'd be too nervous to leave. So before I knew someone well, I'd plan to grab coffee or whatever before I had to go to class or work. That way, I could leave without feeling rude." —Graham Smith, Facebook

    17. Have a supply of easy icebreakers or questions up your sleeve so you have one less thing to worry about when meeting new people.

    18. Pay attention to your living arrangements and how they can help or hurt you.

    19. Tell your friends what you're going through so you have a support group.

    20. Watch how much you're drinking, because you'll probably use alcohol to take the edge off socializing sometimes.

    21. Actually go to the club fair and sign up for something that sounds interesting.

    22. Download an app that'll help you deal.

    There are tons of helpful apps for living with anxiety. MindShift (shown), for example, offers strategies for facing anxieties related to socializing and school.

    23. Make friends with an extrovert.

    24. Connect with other people on campus living with mental illness.

    25. And finally, understand that getting rid of your anxiety isn't the goal; learning to live with it is.

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