One Non-Weird Trick to Reduce Social Anxiety

Problem

You’d like to be less nervous around people and don’t like ‘exposure therapy’.

Solution

A daily act of kindness could help you be less nervous. Yes, we realize that sounds like something from Oprah, but a real study in Motivation and Emotion proved it.

Method

Researchers measured subjects for their levels of daily social anxiety and recorded their “avoidance goals”, which is how strongly they were motivated to avoid socially stressful things. Then, they split al 115 subjects into three groups. Group one would find ways to be kind to others. Group to would confront their social anxiety by doing the thing that made them anxious (i.e., exposure therapy—which people with social anxiety are often told to try). The final group was simply the control group. The groups did their thing for four weeks, and new measurements were taken at the end.

The Results

The biggest drop in social anxiety came from the kindness group; that group also had a bigger drop in avoidance than the other groups.

The Takeaway

Even if you aren’t a terribly socially anxious person, it can’t really hurt to make it your goal to do something nice for somebody else every day. And if doing that reduces some stress—hey, there’s a bonus.


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