The holidays are here and this means that we get to reconnect with our loved ones. This could be family, friends, or both. While it seems like an exciting period, for people who have social anxiety, it can bring about a lot of mixed feelings.
Social anxiety is a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. It is caused by genes, and life experiences, or the brain. People who suffer from social anxiety have some parts of their brain being more active than the norm. How To Overcome Social Anxiety
It’s exhausting to constantly be watching out for people’s responses to your actions. Beyond that, it’s a never-ending loop because it’s nearly impossible to control other people’s perceptions of you. When it comes to holidays, people have more free time, and interactions increase. This can heighten your social anxiety.
Here are 7 ways to deal with holiday social anxiety.
1. Give yourself permission to say no
You don’t have to accept all the invitations you get. You are allowed to say no. Give yourself the space, permission, and energy to decline offers. Setting boundaries is very important, and anybody who doesn’t understand this does not deserve to be in your life. This doesn’t mean avoiding, which will only reinforce the anxiety, but you don’t need to go to everything either. Pick out the events that mean the most to you and politely decline the rest so you have some recovery time for yourself too.
2. Make time for self-care
Just because you have been invited to every party does not mean you neglect yourself. You must set aside time to take care of yourself and your body. Take yourself on dates and, if you can afford, go to a spa for a massage. Make your nails, spend time by yourself, meditate, and rest.
Even just a few minutes every day to practice self-care strategies can help manage symptoms of anxiety. Therapies with scientific evidence for effectiveness with anxiety disorders include relaxation training, exercise, self-help books based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and meditation.
3. Don’t overdrink
Have you ever arrived home after a night out of heavy drinking and felt terrible about yourself? You get anxious about the smallest things.
Hangover-related anxiety is real and is very linked to social anxiety. Drinking alcohol dumps a flood of dopamine into the pleasure centre of the brain. The feel-good chemical swirls through your head, but the rush only lasts for a short while. When dopamine levels dip back down, feelings of anxiety rebound. So pace yourself, and do not, at any cost, overdrink.
4. Engage with the young ones
It’s a lot easier to talk to children than adults. Children are less-judgmental and are in many instances happy and in good spirits. They are also likely to be accommodating of new people. If you suffer from holiday social anxiety, spend more time with the children. Adults can provoke your anxiety, and children can take the perceived spotlight off of you.
5. Volunteer to help the host
If you are finding it difficult to hang out with people, then try volunteering to help the host. Serve the guests or help to cook. You can also choose to wash the dishes after the meal. How does this help?
Therapists suggest that busy hands that have a purpose can ease some of the pressure at large gatherings, not to mention you’ll feel helpful and have a sense of purpose.
6. Reflect on what you missed out on during the pandemic
Remember when we were frustrated during the lockdown? It felt like a prison and leaving the house felt like a treat. During that period, a lot of us swore to ourselves that when things go back to normal we will never say no to plans. The pandemic was extremely heavy on us and made us realise that we had a lot to be grateful for, one of them being the freedom to move around and visit places.
7. Positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are extremely effective. Your mind can trick you into doing or believing things that you actually don’t. That’s why you must reaffirm yourself. One affirmation that may seem negative but is an important reminder, is that nobody really cares about you. No one is paying that much attention. Everyone is focusing on themselves.
Psychologist Joyce Marter recommended that people silence their inner critic when they feel anxious, and instead of saying hurtful and mean things to themselves, they can recite positive affirmations, such as ‘I can do this,’ and ‘I want to be able to enjoy social situations.’