For some people, the seemingly simple task of leaving the house and going to a small get-together or a dinner party is enough to send them into a near meltdown.

An estimated 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. While it’s always beneficial to seek out a doctor’s advice, here are some things you can try on your own if you suffer from social anxiety disorder.

1. Prepare talking points before an event

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Interacting with anyone – strangers or people you know – can be stressful in these situations, so it’s useful to have a few conversation starters ready just to break the ice. Life coach Martha Beck says even current events are helpful to bring up: “When you find yourself standing at the bar or reaching a dead end in a conversation, news of a sighting of Bessie, the Lake Erie monster, or some other tidbit that caught your attention will make it that much easier to mingle.”

2. Go easy on the caffeine

If you’re a jittery individual to begin with, loading up on the caffeine ain’t gonna make things easier. Caffeinated products will ratchet up your anxiety and we don’t need an extra dose of that, now do we?

3. Get a lot of zzzzzzzzzzzs

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Before the next event/party that is causing you a lot of dread, try to get a lot of sleep (operative word being try, we know sleeping with anxiety isn’t always so simple). Being sleep deprived can make it harder for you to engage in social situations and can increase your anxiety.

4. Focus on another person

When you get into a conversation with someone, focus intently on what they’re saying. This will help alleviate your anxiety and your insecurities. Basically, by focusing on something other than yourself, your anxiety level will go down. If you’re an anxious person by nature, you tend to think everyone is dissecting your every move, but, in reality, no one is really paying that much attention to you (and that’s a good thing!).

5. Identify your negative thinking patterns

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This one is crucial. If you can pinpoint the thoughts you had last time you were incredibly anxious, you can change (or at least try to change) your thought patterns. For instance, you may be really hard on yourself and find that this only intensifies your social anxiety (which, of course it would). Work on confronting these thoughts and putting yourself in a different mindset.

You can do it!