As the holidays are just a few days away, you are probably well into your busiest social season. Even though we’re taught that this is the happiest time of year, many of us might not feel that way. In fact, according to a survey conducted in North America, 45% of participants detest the holiday season.
The idea of office parties and family get-togethers might seem daunting, especially if you suffer from social anxiety. The increase in social activities during the holidays can also be a source of fear and anxiety.
Let’s take a look at some typical causes of holiday anxiety before we get into self-help techniques for social anxiety over the holidays.
Here are the top five sources of anxiety that our followers listed when we asked them to do so throughout the Christmas season:
1. The office Christmas party
Some people are afraid of their annual company party because they overindulge in alcohol in front of the boss or make small chats with coworkers. We could worry about what other people would think of us or fear that we could say or do something embarrassing.
2. Eating in front of others
There are more opportunities to eat in front of people because there are more lunches, potlucks, and parties. Some people can get really uncomfortable if they feel like people are watching them.
3. Spending time with family
At this time of year, many people dread spending more time with relatives. Answering family members’ inquiries about our well-being can cause anxiety, especially if we are struggling with self-defeating attitudes.
4. FOMO social media
Fear of being left out. The burden of feeling like you’re not doing “enough” can depress you if you find yourself sitting at home scrolling through social media messages. Many of us believe that we are losing out if our lives don’t exactly match our friends’ on social media because of what we see in their lives.
5. The illusion of the perfect Christmas
Social media, TV, and commercials can all contribute to our delusion of the ideal holiday season. We sometimes hold ourselves to high standards because of our idea of what the holiday should entail. Anxiety can arise for many when these irrational expectations are not met.
Here are five techniques you may use to manage your social anxiety this holiday season and throughout the year, regardless of whether you suffer from it or feel it getting worse as the holidays approach.
Self-Help Strategies for Social Anxiety
LEARN ABOUT ANXIETY
This is a crucial initial step because it enables you to comprehend the reasons behind your uneasiness in social settings. Talking to coworkers at the holiday party is one of the many social situations that people with social anxiety typically dread. Even the physical signs of anxiety, such as perspiration, blushing, elevated heart rate, etc., may occur.
Learn about your phobia of people. Keep track of the circumstances that make you anxious as well as the bodily effects those circumstances have on you. Putting these things in writing may be helpful. Gaining a deeper comprehension of your anxiety makes managing it much simpler.
Create a chart with the following three columns: Date, Situation, and Anxiety Symptoms to aid in your observation of your social anxiety. Keep a record of the social circumstances that make you anxious and the feelings you get from them using this chart.
LEARN TO RELAX
Anxiety may be a very uncomfortable feeling. You may “turn down the volume” on the bodily manifestations of worry by practicing relaxation, which may help you deal with social situations more easily. Two tactics in particular may be useful:
1. Calm Breathing
This aids in your rapid relaxation. When we are nervous, our breathing usually quickens. This may cause us to feel lightheaded and dizzy, which may increase our anxiety levels. Breathing through your nose slowly and regularly is the practice of calm breathing. It’s crucial to understand that deep breathing exercises facilitate the process of “riding out” anxiety in social circumstances rather than to eradicate it entirely, as worry is a normal emotion and is not always harmful.
Today’s Christmas Fact:
The tradition of placing tangerines in stockings originated with 12th-century French nuns who would leave stockings filled with fruit, nuts, and tangerines at the homes of the poor.
2. Muscle Relaxation
Learning to relax your body is another useful tactic. This entails tensing and then relaxing different muscles. This tactic can aid in reducing general tension and stress, both of which can exacerbate anxiety issues.
Individuals who suffer from social anxiety frequently think negatively about themselves and the potential outcomes of social interactions.
Common examples include:
- “I’m going to say something stupid.”
- “I’ll do something foolish, and other people will laugh!”
- “I don’t know what to say.”
- “I’m not as smart/attractive as other people.”
- “No one will talk to me.”
- “I’ll get anxious, and others will notice.”
- “Others will think I’m boring.”
- “I’ll make a mistake, and others will think I’m stupid.”
Anxiety is more likely to strike if you think social circumstances are unsafe or threatening. It’s crucial to understand that your ideas are projections rather than genuine knowledge of what will occur. Individuals who suffer from social anxiety often overestimate the level of danger that exists in social settings.
Consequently, cultivating more realistic thought patterns is one of the most crucial steps in controlling your worry around the holidays. However, you must first be able to recognize the types of ideas you have in social situations in order to begin altering your thought patterns.
How to Do It
First, consider what you are afraid might occur in a social setting. You could be afraid of something you might say or do (such as “I’ll have nothing to say to my coworkers,” “I’ll blush,” or “I’ll embarrass myself by saying something stupid to my boss at the party”), or you might be afraid of what other people might think or feel (such as “Others won’t like me,” “Others will notice I’m anxious and think I’m weird,” etc.).
Try to recognize (and write down) your thoughts whenever you feel anxious or have the temptation to run away or avoid a situation in order to become more conscious of your individual concerns. Try writing down your ideas right before you enter the situation or right away after you leave if you find it impossible to do so while you’re in it. Do this exercise again.
The next stage is to have the ability to assess your negative ideas. Recall that your thoughts are conjectures about future events rather than proven facts. Consider if your ideas are useful and supported by the facts. If not, make an effort to pinpoint more sensible and beneficial ideas.
It is often said that being present in the moment is the key to happiness. When you focus your attention on what is happening around you, you are more likely to derive joy from the experience. This is especially true when it comes to social interactions. When you participate in conversations and activities with an open mind and without any preconceived notions, you are more likely to enjoy them.
However, for people with social anxiety, this can be easier said than done. They often find themselves feeling overwhelmed and uncomfortable in social situations, which can make it difficult for them to fully engage with the people and activities around them. In such situations, they may try to hide behind other people or things to help get them through the event.
While this can provide some temporary relief, it is not a long-term solution. Instead, it is important for people with social anxiety to work on building their confidence and developing coping mechanisms that can help them feel more comfortable and at ease in social situations. This may involve seeking support from mental health professionals, joining support groups, or practicing relaxation and mindfulness techniques.
By taking proactive steps to manage their social anxiety, individuals can learn to fully participate in and enjoy social interactions, rather than simply getting by with the help of others. With time and practice, they can develop the skills and confidence needed to feel at ease in a wide range of social situations, and to truly embrace the joys of human connection.
If you would like more tips for coping with holiday social anxiety, then please take a look at this blog post here. Join the Christmas Everyday Club community and chat to like-minded people.