How Improv Reduces Anxiety

Awkward. Quiet. Shy. Anti-social.

If you suffer from social anxiety, these words probably feel familiar.

Social anxiety can make common, everyday situations much more difficult. Parties with friends, happy hour with co-workers, or, a dreaded networking event can all cause a sense of dread and foreboding. But there are ways to combat those feelings, and actually enjoy yourself at social gatherings. One of those ways is improv.

Okay, okay. If you can’t get yourself to go to the bar with friends, how on earth are you going to go to an improv class with a bunch of strangers?? Getting started can admittedly be a HUGE step, but a really, really great one. Because once things get rolling, it becomes clear just how effective a safe and encouraging place improv class can be.

Hattie C. Cooper, author of Thriving with Social Anxiety, insists: “Remind yourself that even when you face your fear and feel that immediate wave of anxiety and distress, it will eventually fade and leave you with a stronger sense of strength and accomplishment.”

Why Improv?

The goal of improv is to provide a safe, encouraging, judgement-free place to play. Early levels of improvisation classes are all about connecting and listening to your scene partners, as well as not being afraid to be bold and daring.

And the best part? You can’t say something stupid!

All improv theory starts with the practice of “Yes, And.” It means no matter what you say, your scene partner must agree with you and add onto it.

“For many people, the default reaction to hearing something unusual is to negate, doubt or question it. But by learning the principle of agreement, improvisers become more confident, both with each other and in themselves.”  – US News & World Report.

While improv isn’t a substitute for real therapy, it can definitely be used in conjunction with it. More often than not, you’ll find yourself bonding with your classmates over the silly slip-ups and amazing scene work you’ve come up with over your time together.

“Elisa (FCI student) gradually noticed small changes in her life. She started taking risks. She tried things that had always terrified her. She went to a bar by herself. She started hanging out in coffee shops. She invited interesting people to do things with her that she always wanted try. She even found the courage to leave the job she disliked.”
From, Relax, We’re All Just Making This Stuff Up!

Taking an improv class will not only help ease social anxiety, but it can create friendships, improve listening skills, and stretch creativity.

Ready to take that step? Register for a free Discover Improv class now to see what all the fuss is about!


 

How Improv… is a blog series that highlights the benefits of participating in improv. Each article will explore a specific topic … Send your suggestions and testimonials for future topics to sarah@finestcityimprov.com.

One Comment on “How Improv Reduces Anxiety”

  1. I love that you talked about how using improv in conjunction with real therapy can help you reduce anxiety. I remember when I was younger and needed to let go of some of my anxiety because of the concept of “Yes And.” You did a great job of explaining how you can bond with your classmates over silly slip-ups and scene work you build together.

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