Overview: Can you manage social anxiety with hypnosis? The short answer: Yes, hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for managing the anxiety triggers you feel in social situations.
Does going to a party or mixer fill you with dread? What about meeting new people?
If you answered yes, you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 12% of U.S. adults experience social anxiety disorder. Countless others face less severe symptoms and feel self-conscious in social situations.
Ultimately, psychologists suggest that social anxiety is triggered by fear.
We fear embarrassment or humiliation, and this fear often gets implanted in our minds in childhood. For example, a negative experience in grade school – you didn't know what to say or froze when meeting new people – can affect us many years into the future.
Hypnosis for social anxiety works by helping us reset and replace these fears.
Using hypnosis, we can update and reframe these triggers and work toward building our social confidence. And several studies conclude that hypnosis is an effective option for resolving social anxiety.
Social Anxiety Signs and Symptoms
Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition characterized by intense fear or anxiety of social situations.
In general, the anxiety stems from a fear of being scrutinized, judged, or embarrassed by others. You might also experience these signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder:
- Fear of being judged or criticized
- Fear of humiliation or embarrassment
- Avoiding social situations or events
- Excessive self-consciousness or worry about how one appears or behaves
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Physical symptoms such as sweating, blushing, shaking, or nausea
- Difficulty speaking, including stuttering or stumbling over words
- Fear of public speaking or performing in front of others
- Difficulty making friends or maintaining relationships
- Persistent, irrational fears or beliefs about social situations.
Social anxiety symptoms can vary in intensity. In severe cases, they may interfere with daily life, work, school, and relationships.
Gaining Control of Social Anxiety with Hypnosis
Social anxiety, for many sufferers, is the result of automatic thinking. We find ourselves in a stressful social situation, and our palms start to sweat and our thoughts race.
Once the wheels start spinning, we experience self-consciousness. We can't find the right thing to say and may start to panic.
For others, social anxiety is even more debilitating. The thought of a social event fills them with dread and panic. They might struggle to even attend the event.
These triggers are all automatic, and they reside in our subconscious.
The stressful stimuli – whether a first date or an office holiday party – sends an electrical charge to the brain. And there, subconsciously, the mind jumps into action and tells the body how to react.
Over time, we’ve taught the subconscious how to respond to these stimuli. Many life experiences can embed negative emotions and triggers in the subconscious. Often, they begin in adolescence.
What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?
Psychologists speculate that social anxiety often starts in adolescence. We might experience a negative social experience like an awkward first date, and we develop a mind-body response to protect us from the negative emotions we felt.
Some possible causes of social anxiety disorder include:
- Genetics. If your parents or siblings have social anxiety disorder, you may be more likely to develop the condition.
- Difficult childhood experiences. If you experienced teasing, bullying, rejection, ridicule, or humiliation in childhood, you may be at a higher risk of developing social anxiety disorder.
- Trauma. Childhood trauma, such as family conflict, trauma, or abuse, may also be associated with the disorder.
- Change in school-life / work-life. Life changes like entering a new school, starting a new job, or leaving home, or work-related stress can trigger social anxiety.
- People with health impairments or conditions. Conditions such as facial disfigurement, stuttering, or tremors related to Parkinson's disease may increase self-consciousness and potentially trigger social anxiety disorder in certain individuals.
How does hypnosis help social anxiety?
These causes often develop into attachments and emotional beliefs embedded in the subconscious.
For example, after a negative experience, we might say, “I'm not a conversationalist. I don't have anything interesting to say.” This belief protects us from negative experiences in the future and may result in anxiousness or avoiding social settings.
Hypnosis is a tool that allows us to explore and reframe these subconscious attachments.
For example, using hypnosis, we might reframe the negative experience. We might even learn to laugh at it, like an awkward first date. Hypnosis can also help us release self-consciousness, negative beliefs, and other attachments that may be triggering our social anxiety.
What Is Hypnosis? How Does It Help Manage Social Anxiety?
We like to say that hypnosis is meditation with a goal. In both hypnosis and meditation, we seek a similar state of heightened focus and relaxation.
But with hypnosis, once we've relaxed the mind and the body, we can start to work with the subconscious.
Ultimately, hypnosis changes the way our brains process information.
The state of relaxation shuts down the conscious mind, and we can talk directly to the subconscious. Fortunately, the subconscious is very receptive to new information. Therefore, we can begin to reframe our fears and experiences through suggestion.
These suggestions provide new ways to process sensory information, which allows us to quiet anxiety and fear in social settings. Then, through repetition, we can begin to retrain the subconscious and make these new responses stronger and more automatic.
Here's an example of a hypnosis for social anxiety session:
Does Hypnosis Work for Social Anxiety?
Research shows that hypnotherapy does work, and many experience long-term and immediate health benefits. Several studies have found hypnosis works for anxiety sufferers.
Here's a look at some of the anxiety hypnosis research:
Hypnosis and Anxiety. A large review of research, published in 2010, examined six studies related to hypnosis and anxiety. The authors concluded that the research provided “compelling evidence that hypnosis is an efficacious treatment” for event-based and anxiety related disorders like social anxiety.
Hypnosis and Public Speaking. A fear of public speaking can be related to social anxiety disorder. A 1997 study, for example, found hypnosis helped to reduce perceived anxiety during performance. In other words, hypnosis can help to reduce the anxiety you experience during social occasions. (See our guide: Does Hypnosis Work for Public Speaking?)
Hypnosis and Stress Reduction. A 2017 review of research explored several hypnosis studies, finding a majority of those reviewed showed that hypnosis was an effective tool for stress management.
Getting Started with Hypnosis for Social Anxiety
Do you want to try hypnosis? Like meditation, you can practice hypnosis at home or with a certified hypnotherapist.
In general, there are three ways to try hypnosis:
- Hypnotherapy Apps – Hypnosis apps like Grace allow you to listen to recordings. You can practice with apps at home, work, or on-the-go. Grace features a helpful “Overcome Social Anxiety” hypnosis recording.
- Hypnosis Books – Reading hypnotherapy books teaches you techniques, terminology, and many feature scripts and exercises you can use at home. Close Your Eyes, Get Free provides a framework for overcoming stress and anxiety.
- Certified Hypnotherapy – Working with a certified hypnotherapist in-person or online is another alternative. Working with a coach can provide deeper focus and personalization in the process.
What Is Self-Hypnosis for Social Anxiety?
Self-hypnosis, simply stated, is following a hypnosis plan by yourself. You might listen recordings or a read a book.
It is one of the best ways to try and experiment with hypnosis at home. Generally, when you practice hypnosis, you will follow these three steps:
- Relaxing the body and mind
- Providing suggestions for your subconscious
- Visualizing yourself free of anxiety
Self-hypnosis is a powerful tool for managing anxiety.
For starters, it can be utilized anytime. You might practice prior to a social event, or directly following a stressful experience.
Ultimately, the key is repetition. You can practice self-hypnosis for anxiety every day, at home, work, or even on public transportation. And it’s a tool that, once you master, you can use throughout your life.
What to Expect from Self-Hypnosis
A great thing about hypnosis: You can expect to see results after your very first session. They may be subtle, or they may be quite pronounced. But letting the mind unwind and the body relax will certainly provide relief. Some of the most common benefits include:
- Sense of Clarity: Hypnosis gives your mind and body a chance to relax. When you open your eyes, you’ll likely feel refreshed.
- Reduced Symptoms: A common benefit: After hypnosis, your anxiety symptoms will have likely decreased. That's why it's great to do before a stressful social situation. You’ll feel less worry and increased confidence.
- Lifted Mood: Anxiety can exacerbate stress and lead to racing thoughts. A quick hypnosis session can help to improve mood in a matter of minutes.
Long-Term Results Takes Time. Remember that self-hypnosis is a skill. And like learning any new skill, it takes time to master. You shouldn’t expect to sit down and reach the same state as someone who has practiced for many, many years.
Tips for Achieving a Consistent Self-Hypnosis Practice
Self-hypnosis works the best through regular practice. That’s particularly true for a condition like anxiety, which can be triggered in an instant by a stressful situation.
So as you begin experimenting with self-hypnosis, remember: Make a plan to add time to practice once a day for a week, before you give it up. That’s not always easy. We lead busy lives, and finding an extra 5-15 minutes can be a challenge. But it’s important.
Here are a few tips to follow:
- Quiet, Comfortable Location – Find a quiet corner in your home or office to create a hypnosis space. A comfortable chair, plants, blinds to shut out natural light, or a water feature can all help to increase the serenity of your space.
- Pick a Time – Setting a time for hypnosis can be helpful in keeping you on track. But the trick is to not be so precise. Rather than saying, “I will do this everyday at noon!” Say: “When I break for lunch, I will be sure to practice meditation.
- Start Slowly: If you started a jogging regime, you wouldn’t try to run 20 miles your first day. The same is true about hypnosis. Pace yourself. Commit first to short bursts you can keep consistent with – like a 5-minute session each day. Then, gradually work your way up.
- Focus on Fundamentals: As you begin, focus your attention on form. Practice your deep breathing, good posture, follow your script, and read your hypnoaffirmations with conviction.
- Track Progress: Anxiety can begin to recede slowly, and that makes it difficult for you to gauge your progress. As you begin, keep a journal. Note how you felt before and after, and write down how you respond to stressful situations throughout the day.
- Keep Learning: Master hypnotherapists with decades of practice under their belts continue to learn. Read books about hypnosis. Learn new techniques. Explore research and studies. Expanding your knowledge will help you maximize effectiveness.
- Have Fun: Hypnosis should be something you look forward to – like a nap or a massage for your mind. Take a break if it begins to feel like a chore. Or space your sessions out – like a longer session on the weekend.
Start Your Self-Hypnosis Journey Today
Social anxiety doesn’t have to control your life. Remember that. With consistent training, you can empower your subconscious to be a better ally, to respond in stressful situations in a more helpful way.
The good news: You can start exploring self-hypnosis right now! Find a quiet corner, grab a script, and give it a try! You might be surprised with how much your mood changes from before and after. Check out all the great resources on Grace.
I love looking at these vista’s. Living in Nevada I feel less anxiety just by seeing them. It helps me stop and breath and be free.
Graduating from one of the top hypnosis schools in the country, I knew the effectiveness of hypnosis on anxiety. However, SELF-HYPNOSIS on this particular subject has been difficult for me to execute. Reading this article re-encourages me to give it another go! How wonderful would life be when I can self-hypnotize my anxiety into being managed?! Wouldn’t that be great?! That would rock my world!
This article is great because it is a deep dive into the positive impacts of hypnosis on our daily life. It’s not only a solution for anxiety but for all areas of our stress and discomfort. I like how the article demonstrates how easily and effortlessly we can do self-hypnosis. This is a really informative article! Great work!
Thank you so much for taking the time to not only explain hypnosis but to also give *tangible* advice about how to access it personally. I have dealt with anxiety for the majority of my life and hypnotherapy has allowed me a tool in identifying where it came from and why it happens. It allowed me to go from feeling powerless to powerful. Thank you again!
I love how this article talks about something so simple as self-hypnosis (relaxing, affirmations, visualization) being able to control and reduce something so damaging and paralyzing as anxiety. I suffer from anxiety, so I know how effective these techniques can be.
I love this article, it’s so relatable. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t feel socially anxious. I’ve been managing it lately simply by understanding how the mind works. Understanding how the mind works, it’s easier to take action to reprogram it. Hypnosis (or Self-hypnosis) is the easiest and most effective way to reprogram the subconscious to work FOR us instead of AGAINST us.
This article is great as it explains what hypnosis is and is not. I love how it gives you step by step instructions for self hypnosis in overcoming what is keeping us from becoming our most radiant being!
What I like about the practice of self-hypnosis is that it produces results and is something that you can do anywhere (except operating a motor vehicle) at anytime. I mean it might be weird to do in the middle of a busy sidewalk, but really you can do it anywhere which fits into our busy lives. While doing self hypnosis you are still very aware of your surroundings, so if your sitting out on a park bench put a pair of sunglasses on and dive in. It really changes your state of mind effortlessly within minutes.
So many people in today’s day have severe anxiety.. In their jobs, at home, when speaking in front of people. You name it. It’s a very crippling feeling that can lead to symptoms that will physically make one ill. Hypnotherapy can help reduce or eliminate these feelings and therefore the unwanted symptoms (palms sweating, loss of hunger, chills etc), and empower one to be more in tuned with their emotions… allowing for the subconscious to take over and calm them. This will result in attaining greater control and less anxious thinking. Hypnosis, like meditation is in YOUR CONTROL. so is whether you are anxious or not.. hypnosis helps guide you into a place of relaxation.
Social anxiety is definitely an issue that has plagued me in my life. I’ve even referred to myself as anthrophobic; having a fear of people. I really like the description in this post about using self -hypnosis techniques. I’ve really been trying to use self- hypnosis more. I’m currently still in a bit of a socially anxious place, and will definitely be using these techniques to help me start to break out of my shell more.
Anxiety relief is just ONE of the amazing “side-effects” of hypnosis. Along with decreased stress levels, anxiety levels are also significantly decreased. You can tell right away. The changes are measurable because you can FEEL it. I’m not rushing through something as simple as making tea. I’m not impatient, tapping my feet in grocery store lines. Somebody cut me off in traffic yesterday and so immediately I braked and honked, to which the other driver stuck their middle finger out the window– I simply smiled and even laughed a little! It’s like there’s a newfound peace. I am loving hypnosis!
My first thoughts in reading this blog post were about how self hypnosis could be used to help seniors with anxiety. Often when people get older, their worlds become smaller and they shrink from past customary social situations. A smaller social community or reduced social interaction have been shown to reduce the quality and longevity of life.
Having an established practice of self hypnosis prior to entering the senior years of life would go a long way to helping maintain protective mental and physical resilience.
Most people don’t know that social anxiety is something I’ve struggled with most of my life… only through really increasing my awareness of my somatic reactions have I come to understand and go within to discover ways around what I thought was “the way I am”. I’m so grateful to Grace for all her work in developing tools to assist people in healing this health, joy and presence threatening issue.
The steps to self-hypnosis are so useful, social anxiety can cripple a person’s love life, not to mention business. And those suffering from social anxiety are not as likely to seek help, so thank you for sharing this.
This has such a place in my heart! The reason I discovered hypnotherapy at all was because I had such intense social anxiety I was searching for ANYTHING to help me. I was actually trying to learn about meditation and stumbled across hypnosis. I used Grace’s 30 day anxiety challenge when it was live, and it absolutely changed my life. Thank goodness I went for it! Now i’m about to be a certified hypnotherapist myself<3
Great post! Never realized that anxiety around social situations is reinforced time and time again in the subconscious mind. Therefore, the body beings responding as if on cue–yikes! Thank goodness, I can use self-hypnosis to change this pattern and feel more comfortable in larger social situtaions.
I realize I’ve always had a problem with social anxiety and I guess I have always told myself it was a choice I was making not to socialize. I feel uncomfortable starting conversations and fitting into a small group. It never occurred to me that I was holding myself back. I like going to social events but when I am there I find ways to hang back and not really enjoy the event. I think giving myself the confidence to be in social gatherings would be good for my marriage because my husband is like a social butterfly at social events and some times we don’t go places because of me.
Hypnosis can truly heal any negative beliefs that are getting in your own way of success. Anxiety is something I have dealt with most of my adult life. The ‘smarter’ and more knwledgeable I got on certain subjects, the more my over active mind took over and my heart took a backseat. When we tell ourselves something negative over and over again, our subconscious will believe it and our default mode will be one of fear and unrest. Hypnosis has been one of the greatest tools in my kit to unravel these false conditionings and allow my mind to return to its free state of curiosity, wonder and calm.
I love the visualization aspect of self-hypnosis. It allows me to let my imagination run wild! It can be a very fun, creative process. I think I’m a mix of all of these three: visual, auditorial, and kinesthetic. Maybe more visual than I am auditorial so I really enjoy picturing “future me”. How exciting! It can be difficult to find 15 minutes in the day but once you find a place to sit or lay down, it sets the tone. It’s sort of like applying the “5-minute rule” or I think some people call it the pomodoro method? (where you start a task for 5 minutes and usually at the end of the 5 minutes you still want to work so you can finish what you started). It helps for self-hypnosis!
I always thought it was so interesting that I tend to look OUTSIDE of myself for solutions to social anxiety. I used to depend on alcohol to get rid of my social anxiety. I depended on cigarettes. I depended on my friends and family members. I depended on food. These are not sustainable solutions; they are the opposite actually and can be dangerous if we depend on them too much. What I realized is that I can start looking within myself, looking INSIDE of myself for social anxiety relief. Even in public, in big crowds especially, I will calm my nerves by doing a quick self-hypnosis. I cannot tell you how effective this can be if you really commit to it. I become grounded; I ease my nerves FAST. All good things. Hypnosis is the greatest tool of all time!
I love how this highlights all aspects of hypnotherapy and its many applications. Wonderful, clear explanation and so useful! I have a strong self-hypnosis practice and still cope with social anxiety. Education and training never stops. Thank you for the great information!