I found that once I opened up to a couple of people about it at school, they could relate to what I was saying.
Speak to someone about how you're feeling
Everyone will tell you this one and it probably is the most obvious, but speak to someone about how you are feeling. This can be done in a few ways; you could speak to a family member, a friend you trust or a member of staff you feel comfortable with.
If you find speaking face to face difficult, you could try calling one of the many helplines that are available.
If you're not ready to speak, write a letter
If you’re not ready to speak to someone yet, write a letter to yourself explaining how you’re feeling and why. Be as open and truthful with yourself as you can be.
Then, a few days later, you could read it back to yourself and imagine that someone else wrote it and think about how you would help them. This really helped me and although it sounds a little odd, it's 100% worth a try!
It makes me feel happy when I smile at someone and they smile back at me.
Smile at people when you walk past each other
I used to find this tough and I sometimes still do, but it makes me feel happy when I smile at someone and they smile back at me. Small acts of kindness can really help boost your day!
How you’re feeling is normal and you are not alone
Although it goes unspoken, so many people around you have or are experiencing social anxiety. Just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
I found that once I opened up to a couple of people about it at school, they could relate to what I was saying, which made me feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Find something good to focus on
This could be a hobby or an interest that you are really passionate about. Finding something else to focus on gave me something to look forward to when I got home from school or at the weekend.
It made my day easier and even if I felt incredibly uncomfortable at school, I knew that there was something good happening later. In some ways this motivated me to work and I occasionally relaxed because I knew I would be ok later on.
You’re the only one who knows you like you do. When you’re at the peak of social anxiety, listen to the positive voice inside your head, because there is one even if you aren’t listening to it.
Try not to overthink or listen to negative thoughts, which could lead to panic or possible physical symptoms. Listen to that positive voice, breathe, remain calm and you will be proud of yourself afterwards!
If I felt incredibly uncomfortable at school, I knew that there was something good happening later.
More information and advice
If you're struggling with panic attacks or anxiety, have a look at our guide to anxiety for information and advice on ways to get help.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
Supports people struggling with panic attacks, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and other anxiety-related issues - and provides support and information for their carers.
Call 01952 680835 for a recorded breathing exercise to help you through a panic attack (available 24/7).
- Opening times:
- 10am - 10pm, 365 days a year
Text SHOUT to 85258.
Shout provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.
Please note: From the 1 April 2023, texting ‘YM’ to 85258 will no longer be available to use. You can still use Shout as a support service for your mental health.
Shout is a separate and external organisation from YoungMinds.
- Opening times: