One person shared their story on The Mighty of having social anxiety around the holidays. Here is an excerpt from what they said: “I once hid from my family when they came over for the holidays out of fear of interaction. I hid especially from one of my cousins who was socially aggressive and just made me really anxious…. I am to this day even more terrified of interacting with him.”
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that social anxiety affects approximately 15 million Americans – that’s 15 million people dealing with crippling, anxious thoughts about being viewed as stupid or boring, or even worrying excessively about appearing to be as anxious as they truly are! The holidays can really heighten stress levels for those with social anxiety disorder (SAD), as they may be spending time with family, long-distance relatives, and people whom they haven’t met before. If this is you, know that you’re not alone and that there are several tools you can use to help you manage your symptoms this holiday season.
- Talk up the holiday event in a positive way. Our perceptions do have an effect on our reality, and thinking to yourself about how well everything will go could certainly ease some of the anxiety you’re having. Say to yourself, “I can do this”, “It will go just fine”, and “I would like to enjoy this occasion” – it may help!
- Begin preparing for conversations ahead of time. Small talk often includes what you do for a living, how you’ve been doing, what activities you’ve been involved in lately, etc. Start thinking ahead of time of some topics you could bring up or some things you could say to help things move along.
- Volunteer to help someone cook, clean, or set out the food. If you’re feeling really anxious, cooking or cleaning up will often give you the chance to do something else besides talking.
- Have fun with the kids. Kids are much less intimidating, and they enjoy being silly and having fun. Plus, focusing on the kids means that you’ll be preoccupied – with little room for chit chat.
- Give yourself permission to take a break or even say “no”. If you need to, excuse yourself to the restroom and take a short break. Splash some water on your face and breathe. Don’t overload yourself this holiday season, and only choose 1 event to go to if that will help you feel better. You’re not alone, and you can do this.