Based on research by Trew, J.L., & Alden, L.E. (2015), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.
Can doing good deeds improve the quality of life for socially anxious people?
According to previous research, performing acts of kindness to benefit others increases our own happiness. However, individuals with social anxiety have difficulty interacting with others, as they may feel threatened or worried about being embarrassed. This likely leads them to avoid social interactions, which may result in missing the opportunity to form relationships and gain social support.
Canadian Psychologists conducted a new study to determine whether socially anxious people performing good deeds would change their level of anxiety when interacting with others. Three groups of participants, who experienced high levels of social anxiety, either performed acts of kindness, were exposed to social interactions, or just recorded what happened each day. Results indicated the group instructed to perform good deeds experienced a faster reduction in anxiety. Acts of kindness actually encouraged social interaction as it promoted positive expectations of their social environment. This resulted in reducing their social anxiety, making it less likely that they would avoid social situations.
So just jump in and help someone else. You can alleviate your own feelings of discomfort in social situations; and perhaps gain social support and new friendships!
Trew, J. L., & Alden, L. E. (2015). Kindness reduces avoidance goals in socially anxious individuals. Motivation and Emotion, 1-16.