As the holiday season quickly approaches us, many people get excited about all the holiday events and parties they will be attending. Some people get excited about the holidays they have been eagerly awaiting for weeks, but some people dread these social interactions, events and travels.
Social anxiety can cause a great deal of discomfort and may cause people to avoid social interactions and disengage from others as they fear being humiliated, embarrassed, rejected, stigmatized or looked down on in social interactions. People who experience social anxiety often imagine and dwell on “what if” situations and scenarios which cause them to overthink what people may say or what might happen. In this situation it is important to remember and focus on all the things that you can control such as:
- Being able to maintain a positive attitude
- Learning how to address things that may trigger your anxiety
- Going into situations with a game plan
Managing holiday social anxiety can feel overwhelming but it is definitely something that can be achieved by all individuals. If social situations make you anxious, then the months coming up between November and January can be especially harrowing for you, but it is important to remember that you are not alone and there are tips that can help ease your social anxiety in the coming months. Some of these may include:
- Calm breathing – Taking slower, regular breaths through your nose
- Muscle relaxation – Learning to relax your body which involves tensing various muscles then relaxing them
- Realistic thinking – Remembering that your thoughts and opinions are not facts!
- Learn to identify unrealistic thoughts
- Facing your fear – Make a list of the social situations that you fear and once you have a list, try and arrange them from the least scary to the scariest. Starting with the least scary social situation, repeat the action you will take and how you will deal with the situation, until you feel less anxious
- Have plans for social situations that make you anxious and practice, practice, practice!
Feeling anxious in social situations is normal from time-to-time, and anxiety is a normal and adaptive behaviour. Although, it is important to note that sometimes anxiety can become a problem when our body tells us that there is danger when there is no real anger. Therefore, the goal is to learn to manage anxiety, and not eliminate it.