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Best Nootropics for Combatting Social Anxiety
Sweaty palms and racing heart getting in the way of you being your best-social-butterfly-self? Do you sometimes feel like you need a confidence boost to move forward in your career or meet new people?
Social Anxiety (social phobia) is a a chronic mental health condition where social interactions may cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness or humiliation.
I think we’ve all struggled with social anxiety in some shape or form in the past, whether you’re Mr Confident, Miss Whitty or the person who wishes that the earth would swallow them whole at least twice a day. The good news? Nootropics can actually have a profound impact on your ability to combat social anxiety and give you confidence in both work and social settings.
Read More: What Are Nootropics?
In our day-to-day interactions, it’s so important to come across as confident and engaged. You know how sometimes someone walks into a room and they’re not necessarily the most attractive or cleverest, but you just seem to notice them?
Or there is someone who you remember after meeting them because they actually remembered your name at the end of an evening after being introduced to you earlier? People respond very positively to people who exhibit impressive memory recall skills. How about the people who aren’t necessarily that good looking, but their confidence makes them massively attractive (for the older folks, remember Alan Shore in Boston Legal?!)?
Our body language, an air of confidence and our ability to remember facts or retain information that makes us more interesting in conversations are all very important in how we fare socially. Social interactions are inherently stressful for everyone, but some people are better equipped to deal with them than others. And while it may feel like alcohol can fix all of this, there is always the potential for overdoing it which equals foggy head which equals #socialfail. Plus, a glass of bubbles might be a career limiting move right before a big preso!
Nootropics have proven very successful for people in coping with social anxiety, either by improved memory recall or by having an anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) effect.
Our Top 6 'make-me-a-social-butterfly' Nootropics:
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid (the building blocks of protein) that is used by cells to create protein molecules. It is also an essential component in the production of important neurotransmitters (chemical brain messengers), including dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Imagine you’ve got a social engagement after a tough day at the office. Stress has been depleting your neurotransmitters all day (especially norepinephrine which gets “used up” by stress over the course of a day). When our norepinephrine stores are low, we feel mentally exhausted, wired but tired, cognition suffers and we even have a lowered mood. Not ideal when you need to sparkle.
Because L-Tyrosine helps your brain to build neurotransmitters, it eases stress and improves focus. It is essential when you’re under stress or need to focus and pay attention, because without it, it basically feels like you’ve hit a mental wall. While we can get it from food, targeted supplementation at the right times can be very useful.
When you have plenty of tyrosine in your bloodstream, it replenishes your stores as stress depletes them, so you stay on top form for longer without hitting that wall. In addition, studies show real mood-boosting effects from L-Tyrosine. A real powerhouse for putting your best party foot forward.
SHOP HERE: NeuroActive N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine(NALT)
Nicotine is undoubtedly one of the best nootropics for social anxiety. But I’m definitely not recommending that you light up a cigarette or your favourite cigar, because cigarettes are full of toxins like carbon monoxide and tar and truck load of other awful things. Also, nicotine at high levels is highly addictive.
The beauty lies in the dosage and the delivery mechanism. You need a microdose of nicotine (1-2mg), which is only a smidgen of what you’d get in cigarettes. Also, the best ways to consume nicotine is through nicotine gum, nicotine spray or my personal favourite, through a product like Troscriptions Blue Cannatine.
Nicotine makes you more aware, more focused, improves memory and learning (especially short-term) and improves reaction time. I’ve literally been introduced to people and forgotten their names 2 minutes later. Nicotine is so helpful for situations like that. A little extra alertness and a dash of extra energy – sign me up!
We already know that neurotransmitters are little brain chemicals that signal a variety of things in our bodies. GABA is our natural calming neurotransmitter. Phenibut is a synthetic type of GABA developed by Russian scientists in the 1960s. It was soon used by cosmonauts for its calming yet mentally stimulating effect.
Scientists took GABA and added what’s called a phenyl ring to it which allows it to cross the blood brain barrier, i.e. get right into your brain. This allows it to block an anxiety-causing brain substance (beta-phenylethylamine). At the same time, it also stimulates dopamine and serotonin, so in addition to its anxiolytic, calming effect, it also has a positive impact on cognition, mood and energy levels.
In the nootropic space, many call Phenibut “The Happy Drug” and it is popular with students and entrepreneurs. The range of purported benefits include:
- A decrease in anxiety (especially in social settings as it lowers inhibitions)
- Improved control over feelings and thoughts (shout out to the over-thinkers or self-conscious amongst us!)
- Cognition enhancement, increased motivation, memory, attention and concentration
- Sleep enhancement
Phenibut is taken for anything from building confidence in social settings (as a substitute for alcohol), confidence in public speaking, improved sleep (longer and deeper), exercise recovery and boosting the brain.
Fun personal story: I accidentally took too much Phenibut one day and it felt like I had been day drinking from the early hours! So, stick to recommended dosages, especially with this nootropic as tolerance to Phenibut builds very quickly and you’ll need to continuously use more and more to get the same effect (making it potentially addictive). It’s recommended not to use it more than one to three times per week.
SHOP HERE: NeuroActive Phenibut
A nootropic in the racetam family (a group of synthetic compounds), Aniracetam is known for enhancing memory, increasing focus and reducing anxiety and depression. Some people even report that it enhances creativity.
Aniracetam is quite potent and gets to work quickly to improve mood and cognition. Like other racetams, it works by stimulating the production and release of neurotransmitters.
My grandmother could not only remember someone’s name after meeting them only once 10 years ago, but also their life story. I remember seeing people’s jaws drop when she enquired after their grandchildren by name. A strong memory is so important for good networking. When you remember information that you’ve read and you’re able to meaningfully contribute to discussions, you feel more confident, and people remember you for it.
The mechanism of action is that Aniracetam supports the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine, both of which have well-documented effects for improving mood, focus and concentration. The people who use Aniracetam, swear by it!
SHOP HERE: NeuroActive Aniracetam
5. L- Theanine
I know the taste of green tea isn’t for everyone, but we definitely feel calm yet alert after having a cup of green tea. Why? Because a natural component of the tea leaves is L-Theanine, which works synergistically with the caffeine in the tea to reduce mental fatigue (without a post-caffeine crash). L-Theanine also improves reaction time (even something like how quickly you are able to recognise or recall words), reduces mental fatigue and can improve memory.
What more could we want in a social engagement than being calm but alert? Winner.
L-Theanine crosses the blood brain barrier to leave you in a “flow state”. When taken as a supplement, it is very popular to stack it with a stimulant (like caffeine) because you get the alertness without the jitters or the crash. And as if that’s not enough, L-Theanine also works quickly to release dopamine and serotonin, making it a mood-boosting superstar!
SHOP HERE: NeuroActive L-Theanine
Theacrine is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in some Amazonian fruits, Chinese tea leaves and even cocoa pods. TeaCrine (without the “h”) is a nature-identical, chemically equivalent version of Theacrine. In whichever form, these compounds have long been recognised as an effective pre-workout supplement. However, research indicates that it is also a rather impressive compound for enhancing memory, mental clarity, cognitive abilities and mood.
In fact, TheaCrine and caffeine share a very similar molecular structure, so Theacrine is known for literally being able to wake up your brain in the same way that your first cup of coffee does. However, like L-Theanine, it is again able to do so without the jitters and/or crash that caffeine is known for.
With the ability to sharpen your mind yet keep you alert, this is a great little tool in the social skills arsenal.
SHOP HERE: NeuroActive TeaCrine®
The Wrap Up
Try these nootropics and see what works for you personally. Especially during times of pandemic-inflicted isolation where we are socialising far less than before, I find that not being able to hone my social skills on a regular basis through daily interactions, I’m a little off my game. Being or feeling socially awks is a decidedly awful feeling. So up your sparkle game and give these nootropics a test drive at your next social gathering!
Have you seen our other blogs on Stress & Anxiety?
- Kicking Stress to the Curb
- 5 Biohacks to reduce stress
- Combat Stress, Anxiety, and Depression with Natural Supplements
- Thea is the founder of Neolaia – Biohacking SA and passionate about all things biohacking, functional medicine, holistic and ancestral wellness. She enjoys the occasional triathlon, is fanatic about yoga and the gym and loves n=1 biohacking experiments more than anything else! Learning about the latest in scientific research for health and wellness and applying this knowledge is what makes her happiest!
This information does not serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and does not provide a comprehensive explanation of the different compounds. Always consult your doctor first when making any changes to medication or supplementation.