At this time of the year we’re right in the midst of numerous social gatherings – end-of-year drinks with friends, work Christmas parties, holiday catch-up with the soccer team, family gatherings, the list goes on.
While it’s a social time, for some the prospect of enduring gathering after gathering full of people is something that triggers anxiety and even panic. For those experiencing social anxiety, we’ve put together a guide to help get through the holiday season.
We’re constantly reminded that the festive period is a time of sparkling fun and easy-going excitement. While lots of us will be planning party outfits or secret Santa presents for the work Christmas do, others can find the buzz of social commitments uncomfortable, daunting or even distressing.
Everyone can feel anxious in social situations, like trying to make a good impression or having to give a speech. But sometimes, these sorts of feelings occur during more common interactions or situations.
How to cope with social anxiety at parties this Christmas and New Year:
- Bring a friend along: it helps with moral support and helps you in not feeling left out if you are unfamiliar with the people at the party.
- Don’t get to drunk to mask your anxiety: avoid getting too drunk at all costs, getting drunk should not be used as a quick fix for confidence.
- Prepare yourself: just an honest desire to move forward and have a lovely Christmas. Everyone out there has come to have a fun evening at the end.
- Pre-plan conversations: if you are really anxious about what to talk about, pre-plan some neutral topics to discuss before going in.
- Make sure you smile: our body language and facial expressions account for over half of communication. When you smile, the brain of the other person is more likely to consider you as safe.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety occurs when we feel anxious in social performance situations because of the perceived potential for scrutiny by others or for our anxiety symptoms to ‘leak out’ and be visible to others.
The degree of anxiety experienced can vary according to different factors including who we’re around (e.g. people in positions of authority vs. peers) or the type of occasion (e.g. public speaking vs. one-to-one).
In such situations, we can experience a range of physical changes as well as cognitive changes here is typically a preference to avoid the situation or, if this is not possible, to endure the situation with intense anxiety.
How to overcome social anxiety:
- Challenge negative thoughts.
- Focus on others and not on yourself.
- Learn to control your breathing.
- Face your fears.
- Make an effort to be more social.
- Adopt an anti-anxiety lifestyle.
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