How to motivate someone with social anxiety?

This post answers: How to motivate someone with social anxiety? In what ways can motivation help individuals with social anxiety? What is motivation? What are the different types of motivation? What is social anxiety? What are the signs and symptoms of social anxiety? How to manage social anxiety using self-help techniques? How to manage social anxiety using other methods?

 How to motivate someone with social anxiety?

Some ways to motivate someone with social anxiety are:

Acknowledge their emotions

To motivate someone with social anxiety to carry on their daily routine and also seek appropriate treatment individuals need to acknowledge their feelings. In many cases instead of acknowledging the person’s anxieties individuals tend to talk them down and tell them how they are exaggerating their stress.

This only leads to an individual feeling worse about themselves in their situations. It is very important that the other person acknowledges their anxious feelings and be kind and patient with them.

When individuals empathize with the one going through social anxiety it gives them a sense of motivation to deal with their challenges positively and also seek the required help by giving them a sense of a safe environment.

Take their feelings at face value

Individuals need to take the feelings of people with social anxiety at their face value and ask them how they are feeling rather than asking why they’re feeling so. This motivates them to talk about their feelings openly without filtering them.

Being able to talk about one’s feelings openly is the first step towards resolving their anxieties. When their feelings are neglected they tend to suppress them leading to a buildup of further stress and anxiety.

Use active distraction

Another way to motivate someone with social anxiety is to use various distraction techniques. These distraction techniques can be something that individuals enjoy doing to divert themselves from negative thoughts and emotions that lead to their social phobia or social anxieties.

Performing activities that lighten an individual’s mood can also help in decreasing their symptoms of social anxiety

Be patient

Being patient is the key to dealing with individuals with social anxiety and also motivating them to carry out their daily routine by providing them a sense of comfort and support. Being patient around individuals when they reach their peak of anxiety makes them feel that they can be their worst selves around someone and yet not be looked down upon. This motivates individuals to be themselves when around other individuals.

Use humor

It is believed that having a good time with laughter can be very helpful for an emotional detox. Individuals must have a good time with those suffering from social anxiety to enhance their mood and also reduce their symptoms of anxiety such that they do not keep dwelling on their negative thoughts and emotions.

In what ways can motivation help individuals with social anxiety?

Some ways in which motivation can help individuals with social anxiety are:

  • It helps them to take required action
  • It helps them to carry out health-oriented behaviors
  • It aids in tackling maladaptive behaviors
  • It provides a sense of control to individuals over themselves and their life
  • It contributes to individual overall happiness and well-being

What is motivation?

Motivation can be defined as social, emotional, and cognitive forces that influence an individual’s behavior. It helps individuals to move towards their goals and carry out behaviors required for the same.

Hence motivation refers to factors that do not only make individuals carry out a particular behavior but also provide them directly to maintain these behaviors.

In psychology, motivation is explained by various theories such as instinct theory, drive theory, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These theories indicate that various underlying factors contribute to an individual’s motivation.

What are the different types of motivation?

Motivation is of two types:

  • Extrinsic motivation
  • Intrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation refers to those that are external to an individual. These might include rewards, prices, social recognition, monetary gains, and praises.

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivations are those that are internal to an individual. This might include solving challenging problems for one’s satisfaction.

What is social anxiety?

Individuals experiencing social anxiety might feel uncomfortable being in social situations to an extent that it hampers their daily functioning, it’s sometimes referred to as a social phobia.

Individuals consider public spaces as potential spaces of humiliation and embarrassment. Social anxiety affects how a person Interact with the world around them.

Social anxiety can be differentiated from shyness. In that shyness does not affect an individual’s daily life and functioning, moreover shyness is short-lived.

On the other hand, social anxiety is persistent and negatively impacts various aspects of an individual’s life like their ability to work productively or even develop or maintain close bonds with people outside their family.

What are the symptoms of social anxiety?

The symptoms of social anxiety can be both physical and psychological.

The most significant physical symptoms of social anxiety are:

  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Lightheadedness or feeling dizzy
  • Increased heart rate

The psychological symptoms that individual experiences during a social anxiety attack are:

  • Excessive and intensive worry about the social situation
  • Worrying days or even weeks ahead of an important social event
  •  Trying to camouflage themselves in the background or the need to avoid the social situation on a whole
  •  The need for intoxication to face a social situation
  •  The constant worry of being observed by others 

In addition to these individuals with social anxiety may avoid social interactions such as asking another person a question when in doubt, potential job interviews, shopping, using public services like transport or washrooms, carrying out activities in public such as speaking or even eating in that matter.


How to manage social anxiety using self-help techniques?

Lifestyle changes

Apart from therapy and medication what works best to manage social anxiety is certain lifestyle changes. These may include:

  •  Regular exercises
  •  Having a balanced diet,
  •  Socializing and talking to people about their anxiety,
  •  Journal writing to express and understand one’s feelings and
  • Avoiding alcohol or drugs.

Take control of your breathing

It is normal for anxiety to bring about changes in your body, for instance, increased breathing. these changes often make an individual feel uncomfortable.

One can take control of this discomfort by carrying out a few simple steps such as holding one’s breath for two seconds and slowly letting it out through their mouth.

Repeating this step several times until one feels relaxed. This is most effective when one sits down in a comfortable position with their back straight.


Carry out progressive muscle relaxation

Research indicates that certain activities such as walking, or jogging can help in killing anxiety. Another effective technique to kill anxiety is progressive muscle relaxation.

Progressive muscle relaxation involves flexing and releasing a group of muscles in one’s body which helps to maintain their attention on the feelings of this contraction and relaxation.

Prepare ahead of situations

It is best advised that people who experience social anxiety must plan ahead of these situations that make them nervous to increase their confidence.

Start small

to kill social anxiety people must start small. In that individuals must avoid big social situations and start with the situation that they are compatible with.

For instance, one can start by going for lunch with friends and family members rather than with a set of individuals that they’re not familiar or confident with.

Push back negative thoughts

One very effective way to kill social anxiety is to focus and work on one’s negative thoughts actively.

Think about the negative thoughts that one has about a particular situation and write them down. Following which the person is required to write down positive thoughts that challenge the negative ones.

Sensory awareness

One’s senses can help them calm down while they feel anxious in any situation. For some people trying to look at photographs that give them a sense of happiness or using a particular scent that can help to distract them from the negative thoughts and reconnect with more positive ones can help to kill the anxiety at the moment.

How to manage social anxiety using other methods?

Like other physical conditions, even social anxiety has different approaches for its management and treatment. Some people might only need a single type of treatment while others might require a combination of approaches.

Some of the ways to manage or treat social anxiety disorders are:

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular situation that they usually fear in a graded manner.

It usually starts with exposing the individual to a situation that is least triggering when the individual gets comfortable with this situation introduced or exposed to them with each session individuals become comfortable with a real-life situation that is otherwise anxiety-provoking.

Group therapy

As the name suggests group therapy usually involves two or more individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.

It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same condition or fears they might not feel left alone or isolated.

This kind of therapy also helps in developing and maintaining social skills or techniques to interact with people in other social settings.

 Prescribed medication

Social anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health professional. There are different types of anxiety medications each with its benefits and side effects.

Online therapy 

Individuals with social anxiety can also seek therapy online. This would involve interacting with the therapist one-on-one over an audio or video call. 

Some individuals with social anxiety might be more comfortable seeking help through this mode than others while in a different case some might prefer face-to-face therapy sessions. 


Motivation can be used to help individuals with social anxiety to face their fears and anxieties and deal with them effectively. Both internal and external motivation can play a key role in decreasing the symptoms of social anxiety amongst individuals when used optimally. However, in extreme cases, individuals must consider seeking professional help to deal with their anxieties holistically.

Frequently asked questions: How to motivate someone with social anxiety?


Does social anxiety affect motivation?

In severe cases, social anxiety can be very overwhelming that hamper an individual’s motivation.

How to deal with social anxiety?

Some ways to deal with social anxiety are:

  • Take deep breaths
  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation
  • Filter out negative thoughts
  • Use distractions
  • Start with small steps towards recovery

What does social anxiety feel like?

Social anxiety involves intense fears of communicating with strangers. Individuals suffering from social anxiety fear humiliation and embarrassment in various social situations.

Does low self-esteem cause social anxiety?

Research indicates that decreased self-esteem can contribute to individual social anxiety.