The 3:3:3 Rule To Reduce Your Social Anxiety (A-Z Guide)

A visual representation of a woman being awkward showing anxiety

To put it in simple terms, social anxiety is the fear of being negatively judged in a social setting. What causes social anxiety in individuals can vary from person to person. Going ahead, we’ll look into some common triggers for social anxiety. We’ll also look into one of the most effective coping strategies to help you when you are feeling anxious i.e., the 3:3:3 rule to reduce your social anxiety.

Anxiety is something that all of us have experienced in our lives, hence what differs is its intensity. In a social setting, there are a lot of triggers that can make a person feel anxious. When you understand the triggers for your social anxiety, developing an effective coping strategy gets easier.

Here is a list of common triggers for social anxiety that can vary from person to person:

Fear of negative evaluation

The fear of being judged negatively by others is a common trigger for social anxiety. This includes worries about being criticized, humiliated, or embarrassed in social situations.

Social interactions

Engaging in social interactions, especially with unfamiliar people or strangers, can trigger social anxiety. This can include situations such as parties, social gatherings, or initiating conversations.

Performance situations

For some individuals, performance situations like public speaking, giving presentations, or playing sports can trigger social anxiety. The fear of being observed or evaluated during these situations can be overwhelming.

Being the centre of attention

Being in situations where all eyes are on you, such as being the focus of a group conversation or entering a room where people are already seated, can trigger social anxiety.

Dating and romantic situations

Social anxiety can be triggered by dating or being in romantic situations, such as going on a date or interacting with a potential romantic partner.

Eating or drinking in public

Eating in front of others or drinking in public can be anxiety-provoking for individuals with social anxiety. The fear of being watched or judged while eating or drinking can contribute to social anxiety symptoms.

Returning items or making requests

Social anxiety can be triggered by situations that involve returning items to a store or making requests to others. The fear of potential judgment or rejection can contribute to stress in these situations.

Eye contact and nonverbal communication

Maintaining eye contact or engaging in nonverbal communication can be challenging for individuals with social anxiety. The fear of misinterpreting or being misinterpreted can contribute to anxiety symptoms.

It’s important to note that triggers can vary from person to person, and what may trigger social anxiety for one individual may not affect another in the same way. In fact, the same trigger can lead to different results in different settings for the same person. Understanding your personal triggers can help you develop effective coping strategies to manage social anxiety.

3:3:3 rule to reduce your social anxiety

Dealing with social anxiety can take a tremendous amount of energy from a person, and wanting to get control over it is natural. The 3:3:3 Rule is a cognitive behavioural technique for reducing anxiety and calming yourself in moments of distress. It is a grounding technique that involves focusing on your immediate environment and engaging your senses.

Here is how the 333 Rule works:

Look around and name 3 things you see

Take a moment to observe your surroundings and identify three objects. This helps redirect your attention away from anxious thoughts and into the present moment.

Listen for 3 sounds you hear

Pay attention to the sounds around you and identify three of them. This helps shift your focus to the external environment and away from internal worries.

Touch 3 things around you

Engage your body by moving or touching three different things. This can be as simple as tapping your fingers, stretching your limbs, or touching objects nearby. Physical movement helps ground you in the present and can provide a sense of control.

The 3:3:3 Rule is a simple and practical technique that can be used to manage anxiety at the moment. Many people find it extremely helpful for reducing anxiety symptoms. It is important to note that the 3:3:3 Rule is not a cure for anxiety, but rather a tool to help manage it in the moment.

Practice the rule in a safe environment, such as your home or with a trusted friend. This will help you get used to the feeling of focusing on your surroundings and reduce your anxiety in more challenging situations.

This technique can be particularly useful for individuals with social anxiety, as it helps shift the focus away from anxious thoughts and onto the external environment. By focusing on these three things, you can help to ground yourself in the present moment and reduce the overwhelming feeling of social anxiety. For example, when meeting new people, you can use the 3:3:3 Rule to focus on familiar faces, locate the nearest bathroom or exit, and touch items like a napkin or drink.

You can always join a Toastmasters Club to help get over your social anxiety. Here’s a video for you to understand how it can be useful for you.

Other coping strategies to reduce anxiety

  1. Practice slow, deep breathing exercises: Taking slow, deep breaths can help calm the body and reduce anxiety symptoms.
  2. Perform meditation and relaxation techniques: Meditation and relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery, can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  3. Engage in physical activity: Exercise can help reduce anxiety symptoms by releasing endorphins, improving mood, and reducing muscle tension.
  4. Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, so it’s important to prioritize getting enough restful sleep each night.
  5. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help support overall health and reduce anxiety symptoms.
  6. Identify and avoid anxiety triggers: Pay attention to situations or activities that tend to trigger anxiety and try to avoid or minimize them.
  7. Practice self-care: Engage in activities that you enjoy and that help you relax, such as taking a bath, reading a book, or spending time in nature.
  8. Seek support: Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional about your anxiety symptoms and seek support as needed.

How to Overcome Social Anxiety: 8 Techniques & Exercises” helps you understand in greater the other coping strategies you can practice. Thus it is essential to be patient with yourself and understand which technique works best for you.

Here is a list of certain articles that you can use to help and educate yourself to overcome anxiety in different situations-


Remember, everyone’s experience with anxiety is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. While the 3:3:3 rule to reduce social anxiety is effective for many, it’s important to explore different coping strategies and find what works best for you. If you find that your anxiety is significantly impacting your daily life or that you aren’t able to control it, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional.

You can also check out our personalised coaching services to help you start your journey towards getting better at social situations.

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