Dealing With Social Anxiety during the Holidays

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by presence of fear or anxiety about social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. There are, however, a number of strategies that may help people with soci

Ariba Khaliq
Mental HealthWritten by: Ariba KhaliqPublished at: Dec 20, 2017
Dealing With Social Anxiety during the Holidays

Holidays usually are a time for merriment for most people, but it may also strike fear and discomfort in some. It is common to feel socially anxious when you meet new people, but if you feel uneasy and anxiety bothers you during everyday social encounters and you can't seem to find a way out of it, you may have social anxiety disorder.

Many of us feel terrified of speaking to a crowd or making a toast, but having social anxiety may cause you to experience palpitations, sweating, uncertainty, or other symptoms of anxiety. This experience may not just be limited to parties, but also to many other social events.

Around 15 million American adults are affected by social anxiety disorder - fear or anxiety about social situations. The individual overestimates their likelihood of being rejected and frequently fears that he or she will act in a way that will be embarrassing and humiliating.

Social Anxiety

If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, try to avoid isolation during the holidays. That only serves to reinforce social anxiety. Here are ways to cope with your social anxiety during holidays- the time when you cannot avoid being around people.

Know Your Goal at Parties

Why would you like to be at the party? How can you make it different? Would you like to simply be there or make the best of it? Would you like to talk and interact with your friends or relatives?  Would you like to stay for the entire meal? Whatever it is, decide your goal and make it count. You could invite a friend for support or let one trusted person know how difficult it is to interact in social situations and ask them for emotional support. They might help buffer interactions with a particularly difficult individual. Most people are esteemed to be a source of comfort and feel affinity to those they help out.

Evaluate the Situation

A socially anxious person is paranoid about being judged by others. Try to relax and understand the situation. Look at the bigger picture and move your attention to other things. Understand that you are not the only one going through this and take comfort in the knowledge. It's key not to take too much on and be honest with people close to you if you are finding it difficult to cope. Keeping anxiety bottled up can make things worse, so find someone you can confide in and let them know that you need some support.

It is Okay to be Nervous

All of us have a complex system of emotional triggers and consequences that stem from those. Every emotion should be embraced by us as an important part of life. Instead of trying hard to dodge negative emotions, we should try to learn about this negative emotion in order to cope and resolve any issues that we have. This helps us grow, which in turn helps us understand ourselves better.

Indicate How You Want To Be Seen

To show people at a party or a public place that you are comfortable in their presence, make eye contact with them and smile. People find that smiling at others requires them to make eye contact and to be generally less cautious. You will be warmer towards others and people will respond in a similar way.

Negative emotions can be dealt with by thinking rationally. You will benefit from telling yourself that “if they are that judgmental then they can keep their opinions,” or by asking yourself “will I really remember this in five years?” or “what’s the worst that could happen?”. Realistic thinking can help you deal with social anxiety.

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