Research Suggests a Surprising Way to Reduce Social Anxiety

Research Suggests a Surprising Way to Reduce Social Anxiety

It’s hard to be happy if you find it difficult to get out and interact with others.

At the mild end of the spectrum this might come from introversion or social anxiety; at the more extreme end you might even have social phobia.

Either way, Covid probably hasn’t helped any; making even more people feel even more anxious about even more things!

But there is hope; and this Psychology Today article by Karen Riddell provides some information well worth reading …


  • Social anxiety is a common reaction to the current pandemic environment, as interpersonal skills become rusty and people fear crowded spaces.
  • One meta-analysis of 13 studies of over 16,000 participants reveals that physical activity can reduce social anxiety.
  • Other solutions such as planning and pacing can also dramatically reduce discomfort from social anxiety.

Source: Shutterstock/Guillem

We are all experiencing an alien social existence these days. As the calendar page turns and we begin yet another year where social interactions continue to carry the daunting threat of medical consequences, many of us are slinking back into our safe sanctuaries and staying put. Now, instead of FOMO, the fear of missing out on social engagements, many are feeling FOBI, the fear of being included. Often, this fear is tied not only to health concerns but also to feelings of social anxiety.

Symptoms of social anxiety

We are all familiar with the concept of social anxiety. Like anything, how it affects each person is individual. If you personally don’t experience it with intensity, you probably have friends or loved ones who do.

Physically, it can manifest as avoiding eye contact, sweating, nausea, feeling faint, hyperventilating, panic attacks, and rapid heart rate. Psychologically, it may involve intense feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment, and being negatively judged. Social anxiety may prevent people from dating, going on job interviews, attending parties and events, and other group activities.

Social anxiety and the pandemic

After almost two years of distancing, even the most gregarious and seasoned socialites may be surprised to find their interpersonal skills are rusty. Crowded places may feel stressful both for the potential of swirling germs and for the unwelcome state of being wedged in with lots of people.

Social anxiety can also deepen into social anxiety disorder, a much more serious and potentially chronic condition. Not surprisingly, as this period of pandemic pervasiveness drags on, scientists are finding that the number of people suffering from social anxiety and social anxiety disorder is rising dramatically. Notably, the numbers are worse for adolescents and young adults.

The association between exercise and social anxiety

The good news is that recent research reveals a readily available, non-medical undertaking that helps reduce social anxiety (and anxiety in general). The solution is good old physical activity. While physical activity and social anxiety may at first seem unrelated, in a recent meta-analysis of 13 studies including over 16,000 participants, researchers found that there is an association between physical activity and social anxiety, with physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, having a positive effect on social anxiety…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE