How to Cope with Social Anxiety During the Holidays

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Social gatherings are a staple for the holidays. The parties, the food, the people—it’s a big deal.

For many people, this is an exciting time of year. But for those of you trying to cope with social anxiety, the holiday season can be a difficult one.

If you’re one of them, dread might be a more accurate description of what you may be feeling.

The holidays don’t have to be awful and anxiety-stricken, though.

Learn a few tips on how to cope with social anxiety amidst the notorious holiday hustle and bustle.

Invite a Friend to Support You

One of the toughest things to undergo is figuring out how to cope with social anxiety by yourself.

Here’s a tip: you don’t have to do this alone.

Avoid the dose of unwanted anxiety by recruiting a good friend to accompany you to holiday gatherings. This works especially well for job events or larger family gatherings.

Facing your social anxiety becomes much more manageable when someone is there to buffer interactions. Your friend could provide enough emotional support to get you through this otherwise difficult season.

Confide in a Close Friend

Aside from having a friend tag along to events, take time to talk to a trusted confidante. Unsurprisingly, anxiety only gets worse when it is ignored, so it’s important to approach it directly.

Suffering alone will do little to help you cope with social anxiety. It might feel like you’re putting on a brave face, but learning how to cope with social anxiety involves being honest. Being honest with yourself and others.

Bottling up will actually make it more difficult to cope. Plan to start talking about your problem before the holidays arrive. When you confide in a close friend, you release much of the tension surrounding your anxiety. It’s important to tell those close to you that you need support.

Turn Your Focus Outward

Anxiety is somewhat complicated in that it gets worse the more you ponder on it. The same can be said of social anxiety.

When you do attend social events for the holidays, turn your attention on the externals. That means think about what needs to be done to make the party a hit. Ask what you can do to help. Volunteer to refill the punch bowl or restock the silverware. Keep your mind busy on these minor logistics.

When you focus outward, you leave less room for anxiety to run away with your peace. This strategy is almost like a welcomed distraction. Plus, you’re helping out!

Part of having to cope with social anxiety is battling negative thoughts about what others will think. Choosing to be active and involved will effectively quiet many of those worries.

Limit Your Social Interactions

The holidays always require a certain amount of obligatory attendance to parties and such. While you may not be able to avoid a certain gathering, you surely don’t have to close the place down.

You have the right to limit your social interactions. Be picky about where your priorities are or which party you really need to attend.

For instance, if attending a family gathering is important to you then do so. But, put a time limit on it. Stay for a few hours rather than the entire afternoon or evening. The same goes for holiday parties at work. You can make an appearance and then slip out the back door.

The Take Home Message

Understanding yourself and how you need to cope with social anxiety is key to an enjoyable holiday season.

It’s not uncommon for people struggling with social anxiety to also battle a level of shame. For this reason, it’s invaluable to set healthy boundaries for yourself. Grant yourself the support, space, and respect that you need to cope with social anxiety.

If you’d like to talk about ways to better manage social anxiety, please contact me. I’d be happy to offer you support and discuss treatment options.

To learn more about Anxiety Treatment click here.