Updated: Jan 14
The holiday season is officially here, and this year is already shaping up to be different than 2020. The pandemic kept many people apart throughout the holiday season last year. While we’re still not out of the woods, most people feel comfortable gathering with family and friends again. But, the mental health effects of the pandemic are still lingering for many – including social anxiety.
Whether you already struggled with social anxiety in the past or it’s started to present itself in this post-pandemic world, the idea of getting through the holiday season might seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there are ways to cope and manage your anxiety so you can enjoy the season, rather than dread it.
Let’s cover a few ideas you can use to deal with social anxiety during the holidays.
1. Set Boundaries
One of the best things you can do to keep your social anxiety under control is to set boundaries with yourself and others.
First, decide which events you want to attend and which ones you don’t. You don’t have to accept every invitation. It’s okay to say “no” to some things, especially if you know they’ll push you too far out of your comfort zone.
When it comes to setting boundaries with others, consider talking with your friends and family members. Tell them how you’re feeling, and what you need from the season. You might want to tell them you won’t be staying at a get-together long, or that you need a break for a while to decompress. The people who care about you will understand and want to support you.
2. Have a Strategy
When you do go to an event, it can help to plan ahead. Having a strategy in place will make you feel more comfortable and in control. For example, your plan might include only staying for an hour. You might plan out what you’re going to do, or even think of some conversation starters.
One of the biggest fears people with social anxiety have is saying something “wrong” in a conversation. Practice a few common questions in your mirror, and work on how you might respond to them so you feel confident in what you’re going to say.
3. Focus on What You Can Control
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed throughout the holidays. It’s even easier to feel overwhelmed when you have social anxiety and have to be around different crowds of people. But, that’s part of the season. Family get-togethers, parties with friends, and office celebrations are all par for the course. While, again, you don’t have to attend everything, some things are unavoidable.
You can keep your anxiety over these events at bay by focusing on the things you can control.
For example, you’re in control of how long you stay, who you talk to, and what topics you talk about. When you start to focus on those things rather than everything that’s out of your control, you’re less likely to let your worries overtake your thoughts.
4. Know You’re Not Alone
Dealing with social anxiety when everyone else seems to be having a great time can feel isolating.
It’s important to know that you’re not alone. Especially as we come out of the pandemic, more people are struggling with social anxiety than before. Not only is it nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s something you don’t have to try to work through on your own.
If you’re dealing with social anxiety and you’re trying to manage your way through the holidays, feel free to contact me. We can work on even more ways to cope, and strategies to get you through the season – and beyond.