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Find offline activities online (or arrange them yourself)

Find offline activities online (or arrange them yourself)

With her clients, Ms Rosser works to identify fears, the causes of inhibition, and figure out what’s being avoided and why.

To test the waters she suggests setting simple, straightforward goals. If you’re at a social event, it could be introducing yourself to one or two new people.

It’s important to remember if you don’t hit it off with someone new, it’s not due to failure on your part, she says.

«You are only responsible for 50 per cent of the conversation. If a conversation doesn’t go anywhere, don’t be overly critical of yourself,» she says.

When it comes to keeping in touch with existing friends, it’s all about regular contact, however small it may be, Ms Rosser says.

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«It’s just about … dipping a toe in a bit. These days it’s so easy to do through email, texting or other technology. Just making that contact is really important,» she says.

Going outside your comfort zone

When you’re having an anxious time, everything is harder. So what do you do when your comfort zone completely disappears?

Choose the right setting for you

A party might seem like a logical way to meet new people or catch up with old friends. But if you hate loud spaces and people talking over each other, it’s not going to be very conducive to connecting with other people and enjoying yourself.

«Often [those] noisy, confusing, overstimulating environments at parties, concerts, loud bars and other social events … [can] increase the level of social anxiety for shy people,» says Dr Haslam.

«If you can find situations where you can have a one-to-one interaction in a safe environment, where there isn’t a huge amount of overstimulating noise and complexity, that’s going to be easier.»