How to Manage Social Anxiety through the Holidays

For many people, the holidays are a time of festivities, family, friends, and good cheer. However, if you suffer from social anxiety, you may be feeling tense about the holiday celebrations that span from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. 

At Flux Psychology in Denver, Colorado, mental health expert Andrea Liner, PsyD, specializes in anxiety disorders and can help you navigate the holidays. Here, she shares some strategies for how you can manage your social anxiety during the coming season. First, let’s take a closer look at social anxiety and how it affects people.

Understanding social anxiety

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that nearly 7% of the U.S. population struggles with the fear of being judged or seen in a poor light. For this reason, they often avoid social situations. Symptoms of social anxiety disorder include panic attacks, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and trembling.

Social anxiety often rears its head this time of year. Thinking about busy holiday travel, gift exchanges, cocktail parties, and mixing and mingling with strangers at parties may make you nervous and unsettled. 

Managing social anxiety during the holidays

It’s tempting to just stay home and watch Netflix in your pajamas, but you know that you’d be missing out on some special moments with family, friends, and co-workers. Try these strategies to help you through the season.

Offer to help

When you RSVP for a party or dinner gathering, ask what you can do to help when you arrive. Staying busy by putting ice in drinks, refreshing the charcuterie board, or showing guests where to put their coats gives you an activity to distract you from your worries.

Plan ahead

If you’ll be flying or driving across the country, map out your journey and organize your confirmation numbers for flights, rental cars, and lodging in advance. 

Use scripts

To break the ice and offset your discomfort, prepare a few questions in advance to ask others. You can ask about New Year’s resolutions, favorite holiday traditions, or year-end vacation plans to help break the ice, take the focus off of you, and help you relax into conversation.

Moderate the alcohol

While alcohol can be relaxing, it has a tendency to exacerbate anxiety and depression. Make a decision ahead of time how many drinks are safe for you, and stick to your limit. 

Take time for therapy

Go ahead and schedule a few psychotherapy sessions with Dr. Liner during the holidays. She can help you cope with your tensions, explore unhelpful feelings and emotions, and implement mindset techniques that help you thrive in social situations.

For a happy and healthy holiday season, call Flux Psychology or request an appointment online. For your convenience, due to COVID-19, we offer virtual therapy options through our secure telehealth platform.

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