SHOP THE POST
One of the best compliments my husband has ever paid me was that it took him a little while to recognise that I was quite shy and that I, like many people, suffered from a degree of social anxiety. It got me thinking about what it was that I did to mask my nerves so well. Honestly, I didn’t have an answer. Now being in my forties, I have done a lot of work to arrive at this outward portrayal of assurance.
After some considerable reflection about my journey to combating my nerves in social settings, I am writing this post to answer that question and along the way share a few tips from what I learned and adopted. These include physical techniques, psychology and, of course, personal styling to learn to portray assurance.
The role styling plays in managing social anxiety
Entering daunting social settings can be nerve-wracking for many individuals. Whether it’s a job interview, a networking event, or a social gathering, the anxiety that comes with these situations is universal. However, one often overlooked tool for managing nerves is the way you present yourself through personal style. The right clothing, grooming, and overall appearance can boost your confidence and help you navigate social challenges.
Thinking about what attire will be suitable is a great way to start mentally preparing for what you are to expect. Thinking about the tone of your outfit will help you process how formal or informal the event is likely to be. Thinking about how practical the outfit is will help you to consider the situation you will be entering and process that.
“Confidence is not just about appearance – it’s about embracing who you are and carrying that authenticity into every social interaction.”
Actionable Styling Tips for Managing Nervousness
- Dress for Success: The age-old adage holds true – when you look good, you feel good. Choosing an outfit that makes you feel confident and suits the occasion can significantly impact your mood. Whether it’s a well-tailored suit, a stylish dress, or a polished business casual look, dressing appropriately can boost your self-esteem.
- Colours Matter: Opt for colours that make you feel positive and empowered. Classic neutrals like navy and black exude professionalism, while bold colours like red can convey strength and confidence. Choose colours that align with YOUR personality and make you feel comfortable.
- Grooming Matters: Pay attention to grooming details, as they contribute to an overall polished look. Whether it’s well-executed makeup, well-manicured nails, or the way you wear your hair, taking care of personal grooming can make you feel put-together and ready to face any social situation.
- Comfort is Key: Ensure that your clothing is comfortable and fits well. Uncomfortable attire can add unnecessary stress and distract you from the task at hand. Opt for fabrics and styles that make you feel at ease, allowing you to focus on social interactions rather than your discomfort.
Physical and Psychological Techniques I Have Employed
The styling element is important for giving you the confidence and self-belief to walk into the room with your head held high. Let’s take a look at the expression, ‘Hold your head high’, meaning to be confident and proud. Conversely, how do we show we are nervous or uncomfortable? Maybe, stooped shoulders or looking down at the floor.
Being aware of and controlling our body language empowers us to portray an exterior of confidence and in the process reassure ourselves that we are in control.
Here are a few things that have worked for me
- Practice Power Poses: Before heading into a social setting, strike a power pose. Stand tall, with your shoulders back and head held high. This not only boosts confidence but also reduces cortisol levels associated with stress. Practice these poses in front of a mirror to make them a natural part of your body language.
- Control Your Breathing: Deep, controlled breathing can instantly calm nerves. Before entering a social setting, take a few minutes to practice deep breathing exercises. This not only helps manage anxiety but also prevents physical manifestations of stress, such as shaky hands or a shaky voice.
- Maintain Eye Contact: Eye contact is a powerful tool that communicates confidence and self-assurance. Practice maintaining eye contact during conversations, and use it strategically to convey interest and engagement. This simple technique can help mask nervousness and project confidence.
- Prepare Conversation Starters: Feeling anxious about small talk? Prepare a few conversation starters or topics in advance. This will give you a sense of control and direction during conversations. If a conversation isn’t flowing, learn to be comfortable with the odd pause or silence, and don’t be afraid to end it. You won’t gel with everyone you meet.
- Positive Affirmations: Incorporate positive affirmations into your pre-social routine. Remind yourself of your strengths and achievements to reinforce a positive mindset. This mental preparation can significantly impact your confidence and demeanour during social interactions.
SHOP THE POST
Finally, how you present yourself through your style and body language can play a crucial role in managing nerves in daunting social settings. By adopting actionable styling tips and incorporating techniques to hide nerves, you can enhance your overall confidence and start to have more memorable and pleasant social interactions. You will most likely notice that you even receive a warmer reception!
The residual effect of this is that as you successfully navigate more of these anxiety-inducing situations, you will become more confident and less daunted by them. The coping mechanisms you employ will become second nature and your nerves will diminish.
And that point takes me perfectly back to the question at the beginning of this post. The reason I didn’t know what I was doing to mask my social anxiety, was because by employing the coping mechanisms and strategies that I have, they have become almost second nature in these settings, to a degree where there aren’t many nerves. This has given me the freedom to be myself and have fun. I now regularly attend events alone, fully trusting that I will be able to cope.
Remember, confidence is not just about appearance – it’s about embracing who you are and carrying that authenticity into every social interaction.
Let me know if you found this helpful.