The holidays can be a stressful time for people with social anxiety. There are often large gatherings, unfamiliar people, and pressure to socialize. However, there are a number of things you can do to manage your anxiety and make the holidays more enjoyable.
If you know you're going to be attending a social event, take some time beforehand to think about how you can manage your anxiety. This could include:
- Identifying your triggers
What are the things that typically make your anxiety worse? Once you know what your triggers are, you can start to develop strategies for avoiding them or coping with them in a healthy way.
- Developing coping mechanisms
There are a number of coping mechanisms that can be helpful for people with social anxiety. These could include deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, or positive self-talk. Practice your coping mechanisms ahead of time so that you're prepared to use them if needed.
- Planning your escape route
If you start to feel overwhelmed at a social event, it's important to have a plan for how you're going to get out of there. This could mean having a friend or family member there to pick you up, or simply having a specific place in mind where you can go to calm down.
It's okay to say no to events or activities that you're not comfortable with. Don't feel pressured to do anything that's going to make your anxiety worse. If you're not up for going to a holiday party, or if you need to leave early, that's perfectly fine.
Bring a support person
If you have a friend or family member who understands your anxiety, ask them to come with you to social events. They can help you to feel more comfortable and supported. If you don't have anyone to bring with you, you could also consider joining a support group for people with social anxiety.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, it's okay to take a break from the social event. Go to the bathroom, step outside for some fresh air, or find a quiet place to sit for a few minutes. There's no shame in needing to take a break from socializing, especially if you're feeling anxious.
Focus on the present moment
When you're at a social event, try to focus on the present moment and enjoy the company of the people you're with. Don't worry about what the past or future holds. If you find your mind wandering, gently bring it back to the present.
Challenge your negative thoughts
People with social anxiety often have negative thoughts about themselves and their social interactions. These thoughts can be very distressing and can make it difficult to relax and enjoy social situations. When you have a negative thought, challenge it by asking yourself if there is any evidence to support it. If there isn't, replace the negative thought with a more realistic and positive one.
Practice mindfulness exercises
Mindfulness exercises can help you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and to accept them without judgment. There are many different types of mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. Try to find a mindfulness practice that works for you and incorporate it into your daily routine.
Dress in clothes that make you feel confident
When you feel good about your appearance, it can help to boost your confidence and make you feel more comfortable in social situations.
Arriving early to a social event can give you time to acclimate to the environment and meet people before the crowd arrives. This can help to reduce your anxiety levels.
Find a familiar face
If you're at a social event where you don't know anyone, try to find a familiar face. This could be a friend, family member, or coworker. Having someone you know to talk to can help you to feel more comfortable.
Don't be afraid to leave early
If you're feeling overwhelmed, there's no shame in leaving a social event early. It's better to leave early than to stay and risk having a panic attack or other anxiety-related symptoms.
Remember, you're not alone. Many people experience social anxiety, especially during the holidays. By following these tips, you can manage your anxiety and make the holidays more enjoyable.
If your social anxiety is severe or is interfering with your daily life, it's important to seek professional help. A therapist can teach you coping skills and help you to develop a treatment plan. If you’re ready to seek help click on the button below to schedule a free consultation with one of Salt River Therapy’s mental health professionals.