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Try Therapy

Research from Stanford University has found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is extremely effective at reducing symptoms of social anxiety. And in fact, all of our experts recommended CBT if your anxiety controls your social calendar. "CBT helps you identify negative thoughts, play them out, and think of alternative explanations," says Vinson. Your reaction may be, "That girl doesn't like me," but in reality, maybe she's not smiling at anybody in the room. "Even if someone isn't going to a therapist every week, they can learn about the principles of CBT and try and apply them. Questioning those automatic thoughts help them not hold as much weight."

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End On a High Note

"It may seem counterintuitive, but you actually want to end the night when you feel a little more comfortable when you're having a good time," says Gross. If you've hit your goal—staying for 20 minutes, starting a conversation with one stranger—leaving after you've accomplished it, rather than waiting and letting panic drive you out, makes the whole situation seem not so scary, encouraging you to give something similar a shot in the future.

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Upgrade Your Screen Saver

You can actually calm your nervous system with just a glance at your phone. "Looking at a photo that makes you smile or feel good will literally help your body relax and induce happiness," says Angert. Another option: Keep a mantra or positive affirmation in the notes section and sneak a peek when you're taking your 5 minutes away from everyone else. (Try one of these Pinterest-Worthy Workout Mantras to Power Every Part of Your Life.)

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If your heart starts racing at a moment where you can't easily slip away, employ basic breathing, says Angert, which can help regulate and slow down your nervous system. Inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, visualize the breath coming in through the body, and out through the body. Set an intention as you breathe, she adds: Breathe in what you're inviting in—calm, confidence, faith—and breathe out what you need to let go of—stress, fear, self-doubt.

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Practice a Mini Meditation

The best way to use those few minutes of solitude mid-meeting or mid-party: Calm your nervous system. "Any form of mindfulness where you allow yourself to pause and be in your own body can help," says Angert. Even taking 5 minutes in a quiet setting, closing your eyes, and being conscious of your breath is enough to quiet the nervous system as much as a full meditation, she adds.

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