I tried meditation, developed a love of exercise, tried to join in with social things, etc. None of it really helped me though. I couldn’t ever push through the barrier of anxiety that would have allowed me to make friends. I made small progress, enough to go from being terrified of leaving my room to being able to go to university, but never made any friends due to just being incapable of talking to anyone.
For me the thing that did it was a combination of things. I had a support worker for a while, we just had regular chats with each other, and through those very normal conversations, it helped me build up my confidence enough to know that I could handle a conversation. And then studying overseas in a developing country helped me a lot. Not everybody has this option of course, I couldn’t have done it without a scholarship. But it basically just put me in a situation where all the other students on my study abroad program didn’t care about my history, or me being shy. Everyone is 100x friendlier on study abroad in my experience, and it allowed me to make some progress with my anxiety. Plus, it turned out for me that communicating in a second language is much less anxiety inducing for me because people expect me to make mistakes in things I say and ways I behave. I still get anxious, but these days I actually feel confident that I have the ability to deal with it. But yeah this isn’t something that would work for anyone, I just had a specific combination of severe anxiety and experience moving around a lot that made it work for me.
My story isn’t very useful so my tips would basically go - Exercise (can be just walking), therapy, meditation, volunteering (people that volunteer are usually good people so somewhat less scary, for me anyway), and potentially even a support worker if something like that is available. For me, the transition from terrified of leaving my room to living overseas has been a long one filled with many mistakes and setbacks, but with good support networks in place it’s possible to overcome setbacks and keep on improving.