Five Ways to Work Through Holiday Social Anxiety

November 25th 2015

It's that time of the year. The family’s getting together again and you're about to be around a lot of people. Whatever holiday you celebrate, if you struggle with social anxiety, you're facing a challenge.

But don't panic. First off, know that you are not alone: 15 million American adults struggle with social anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

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Here are five ways to deal with your upcoming social obligations.

1. Let go of your expectations.

Don’t expect a good holiday and don’t expect a bad one, Psych Central suggests. Instead of assuming the holidays are going to be one or the other, just go with the flow and roll with things. Setting your expectations to zero will help you relax as you accept things as they come.

2. Don’t make guesses.

Thinking things like, 'I’m going to say something stupid' or 'I’m not as smart or attractive as other people' are common thoughts that socially anxious people might have, according to Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia.

If you believe that social situations are threatening or dangerous, then you’re more likely to feel anxious, Anxiety BC says. But it’s important to realize that you’re just guessing about what will happen: These thoughts are based in assumption, not fact. For more tips on how to evaluate whether or not your thinking is realistic, check out the resources Anxiety BC has here.

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3. Don’t take things personally.

If someone says something unpleasant or rude to you, that statement reveals more about them than it does about you, Psych Central says. Don’t succumb to that type of negativity.

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4. Bring a friend.

Maybe you’re at a holiday party that is open to more than just your immediate family. Consider bringing a friend along to help move through the social situation and ask them for emotional support, Kalina Michalska tells Medical News Today.

5. Focus on children and animals.

If you’re at a family get-together, there’s a good chance that someone at the event will have children or animals. Maybe you've brought your own.

Focus on them and play with them, Psychology Today suggests. They aren’t thinking about how much weight Uncle Peter has gained or how you still haven’t gotten a job yet. Get in on the fun and try to relax.

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Do you get social anxiety when the holidays come around?

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