Can Extroverts Suffer From Social Anxiety?

Does this sound familiar? You're a dyed-in-the-wool extrovert on the cusp of an event you've been looking forward to for days, weeks, or even months. But suddenly, you'd rather do anything else than endure the social pressure — even if you're desperate to see the friends and family members who will be there. You're tired of being stuck alone at home but feel overcome with worries that you'll make some social misstep and end up miserable all night.

Alternatively, you arrive at the event excited and ready to mingle, only to feel stress creeping up on you as you socialize. You second-guess everything you say, worry whether everyone around you is having a good time, and feel pressured to be active and engaged in every conversation. It's exhausting to keep up, and this constant performance can even give way to waves of imposter syndrome, making you feel out of place despite your momentous efforts to fit in.

Examining these situations, you might think that the culprit can't be social anxiety. After all, it's not that you're dreading interactions with other people. You love people! No one has ever accused you of being shy. You're a quintessential extrovert, always hoping for the uplifting energy of time spent with friends. So what gives?

Pop culture would have us believe that extroverts are tireless social butterflies, while introverts are shy wallflowers. As such, you might think that only introverts would struggle with stress in large groups. But these stereotypes aren't exactly right, and no one is exempt from falling prey to social anxiety. If you're an extrovert who can't seem to get comfortable in group situations, it's important to understand how social anxiety can manifest in your life — and what to do about it.

How extroverts experience social anxiety

Your average extrovert may seem like a people person, but there's more to this designation than an outgoing personality. There are actually four types of extroverts, and they aren't necessarily united by a bubbly persona — rather, an extrovert is defined by the fact that they feel energized by social interactions. This can look quite different from person to person. Whereas one extrovert might thrive on meeting strangers and visiting new places, another extrovert may recharge their social battery by enjoying an intimate dinner party with a few close friends.

If you're an extrovert, you probably look forward to certain gatherings and events, but social anxiety can turn this into a love-hate relationship. Instead of relaxing and enjoying yourself, you may feel crippled by insecurity. This isn't quite the same as typical introverted social anxiety but can be just as impactful.

"Anyone can have social anxiety, but the experience of social anxiety for an extrovert may look different than that of an introvert. Extroverts often greatly value being liked by others, so they may be prone to overthinking and ruminating about how they are perceived," therapist Liz Kelly, LICSW, tells Talkspace. "Extroverts may feel a lot of pressure to constantly be 'on' and entertain other people. That internal expectation to entertain people or keep up a constant facade of happiness and excitement can be hard to sustain."

So, how can you tell if you're dealing with social anxiety? Mentally, extroverted social anxiety can mean self-consciousness, acute fear of embarrassment, and even worrying that your stress may be obvious. Physically, pay attention to how your body responds in social situations. Symptoms like an elevated heart rate, constant blushing, dizziness, and muscle tension can also be signs that you're experiencing social anxiety (per Banyan Treatment Center).

Tips to manage extroverted social anxiety

If extroverted social anxiety stands in the way of your happy and fulfilling social life, it may be time to incorporate some tips and tricks to overcome your fears. Start by taking baby steps to adjust your mindset and address your specific social worries. For instance, use mantras or daily reminders to affirm that you are worthy of love and friendship, that being your genuine self is enough, and that you aren't solely responsible for the happiness of people around you.

There are also various natural remedies that may ease your anxiety, such as herbal teas. Some of the most calming teas include chamomile, lavender, mint, and rose. Just be sure to skip anything packed with caffeine, which will ramp up your stress levels.

Meditation and breathing exercises can also be helpful to soothe your frayed nerves before a social event. For instance, box breathing is an easy stress relief tool that simply involves breathing in a four-count rhythm — inhale for four, hold for four, exhale for four, wait for four, and repeat. If you prefer to mix it up, there are also a number of other deep-breathing techniques to help center yourself before your social anxiety gets out of control.

If your anxiety is persistent, you can also speak to a therapist about treatment options. They may recommend certain types of counseling, medication, or even vitamin supplements. With the stigma against caring for your mental health shrinking year by year, there's no reason to feel shy about seeking out the help you need. When extroverted social anxiety is interfering with your quality of life, do whatever you need to do to feel more confident, self-assured, and relaxed in your own skin.