Conquering Holiday Social Anxiety: Your Comprehensive Guide
Social anxiety can be a formidable adversary during the holiday season. With an influx of social gatherings, increased expectations, and the general chaos of this time of year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
This comprehensive guide is here to arm you with practical strategies and tips to navigate through the holiday season with confidence and joy.
Understanding Social Anxiety
Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is more than shyness or a fear of public speaking. It’s a persistent fear of being observed, judged, or scrutinized by others, causing significant distress and impairing one’s ability to function in social situations.
Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety symptoms can be psychological and physical, varying from person to person.
Common psychological symptoms include:
Fear of interacting with strangers
Worry about others noticing your anxiety
Fear of physical symptoms like blushing or a shaky voice
Avoidance of situations where you fear embarrassment
Anticipation of the worst outcome in social cases.
Physical symptoms can include:
Increased heart rate
A person with social anxiety may experience some or all of these symptoms, and their intensity can fluctuate based on the situation. Understanding your specific triggers and reactions can help you develop strategies to manage your anxiety.
The Impact of Holidays on Social Anxiety
The holiday season is often a time of increased social activity, which can exacerbate social anxiety symptoms. The pressure to attend large social gatherings, navigate unfamiliar social situations, and handle potential triggers can make the holidays less cheerful.
Moreover, with the COVID-19 pandemic in recent memory, many people are finding it challenging to reintegrate into social situations after extended periods of isolation. The sudden return to large gatherings and parties can trigger a spike in social anxiety symptoms.
10 Strategies to Manage Social Anxiety during the Holidays
While social anxiety can be daunting, especially during the holiday season, you can use proven strategies to manage your symptoms and enjoy the festivities. Here’s a roundup of 10 practical strategies to help you conquer holiday social anxiety.
1. Educate Yourself About Your Social Anxiety
Understanding your social anxiety is the first step towards managing it. Familiarize yourself with your specific triggers and reactions, recognize the physical and psychological symptoms, and understand how they impact your daily life.
2. Define Your Boundaries
Having clear boundaries is crucial when managing social anxiety. You don’t need to accept every invitation that comes your way. Determine which events are important to you and only commit to those.
3. Bring a Trusted Friend
Having a trusted friend or “wing(wo)man” at social events can help you feel more comfortable and less anxious. They can facilitate conversations and provide a sense of familiarity and security.
4. Request a Task
If bringing a friend is not an option, ask the host if there’s something you can do to help during the event. This can give you something to focus on, reduce feelings of being observed, and provide opportunities for easy conversation.
5. Prepare Conversation Starters
Having a few conversation starters up your sleeve can help alleviate the stress of making small talk. Think of neutral topics or current events that you can discuss.
6. Take Breaks
If you start to feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to take a break. Step outside for fresh air, take a quiet moment alone or engage in a brief mindfulness exercise to help you re-center.
7. Be Honest About Your Feelings
It’s okay to acknowledge your social anxiety. If you feel comfortable, let others know that you’re feeling anxious. More often than not, people are understanding and supportive.
The holiday season can be a challenging time for individuals with social anxiety. However, you can navigate the holiday season confidently and grace by understanding your triggers, setting boundaries, and employing effective coping strategies. Remember, asking for help and caring for your mental health is okay. After all, the holiday season is all about joy, peace, and well-being.
Disclaimer: Sarah Edwards is not a certified or licensed mental health professional—instead, someone sharing real-life experiences and findings for others to find commonality and seek actionable steps.
Self-care alone is such a critical part of dealing with mental health. I will continue to stress this to you because without self-care, trying to cope with your mental health would be so hard. Self-care isn’t just face masks or bubble baths, it’s whatever you need it to be.
Self-care is especially important during and even after the holidays. In fact, the holiday season can be physically and emotionally exhausting for some people. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m definitely one of them. I absolutely love the holidays, but I always find myself feeling blue when they’re over.
The holidays can lead to stress and isolation for some people because it’s overwhelming. Having to see all your family at once can be a lot. Figuring out what kind of gifts you’ll be getting your loved ones can create a lot of stress and anxiety. The holiday season in itself can stress you out. While giving gifts and spending time with loved ones is great, it can take a lot out of you. Take a break from the shopping and stress, go ice skating or take a walk through your favorite lighted park. During the holidays please remember that what you want and need matters too!
While the holidays themselves can be stressful and draining, after the holidays can be pretty sucky too. All the cheer you had may have left with holiday season. This can leave you feeling blue and all but cheery. For most, it’s back to reality after the holiday season. People will be returning to work or school after getting used to having time to yourself. Don’t let it get you down. You should try to return to your normal self-care routine and maybe even a little extra to give yourself the boost that you need!
Please remember to take care of yourself this holiday season!
You can read my post about having a split holiday right here on TurningPointCT! 🙂
Having A Split Holiday
As most of you already know, my parents split and got a divorce. This changed the holidays drastically for me. I was no longer sure what to expect around this time of year. I knew that it meant that things would be different. It meant having to have a split holiday. I was going to have spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my dad and my new family.
I’ll be honest, I hated the idea of having to go somewhere new to celebrate a holiday with people I barely knew. At that point, I also still hadn’t really forgiven my dad for leaving in the first place. And I certainly didn’t I want to meet the people who got to have him instead. It made me hate the holidays but I wanted to spend time with my dad so I sucked it up. Eventually, I got over it and the holidays were more enjoyable. I got to know my step-family and they’ve done nothing but love me and more.
While I do love them, sometimes the holidays are still hard. From the outside, it sounds like having split holidays is cool but it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. Honestly, it’s exhausting. Every year I have to mentally prepare myself to have two Christmases. For the copious amounts of small talk, awkward silences and having to open presents when nobody else is. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of my families but I just want to enjoy my holiday in one place. Sometimes, I hate having to have a split holiday.
When I was a kid, I used to enjoy Christmas more than Thanksgiving because all that seemed to matter as a kid was getting presents. As the years went on, though, that began to change. I no longer enjoy Christmas at all, but I enjoy Thanksgiving a lot. Both holidays have an underlying theme of family, but I’ve never really had that sense of family because my family has usually always been separated; it’s really only been my mother and I.
While it may not make sense to most because of what I mentioned above, I just can’t enjoy Christmas because of the stress of having to think about what gifts to get to people and because I don’t even see my family anyway. Thanksgiving is nice though, because while there may be some stress about getting food, for us it’s nice and quiet and we enjoy spending that time together eating delicious food and not having to worry about gifts. We are also vegan, so instead of eating turkey, we have other things.
I also enjoy the process of saying what we are thankful for before we eat. It’s just a nice way to reflect back on the previous year and take note of all the good things that may have happened even if I’m feeling down. For example, one thing I am thankful for this year is my new job as TurningPointCT’s Social Media Assistant! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Calendar for Mental Health Awareness Days: 2019
TurningPointCT.org’s 2019 Awareness Calendar is here!
Every month there are awareness days that celebrate and recognize different things relating to mental health and advocacy. Have you ever wondered when all those awareness days are?
If so, check out ours below! Scroll down to find it!
Download the PDF or save the PNG to your desktop. Print it, share it, and enjoy it! #YouAreNotAlone
So, if you ever have felt like you are the only one experiencing your struggles, you are not alone. These awareness days exist to remind us of that fact. Together, we are strong. Love yourself, spread awareness, and fight stigma.
Make sure you are following us on Facebook and Twitter to see our posts on each awareness day. You can also find out if there are any events happening in honor of the days.
And scroll down for the PNG! Hint: you can save these by dragging them to your desktop. If you are on your phone hold down your finger and save the picture!
Here is the entire calendar, month-by-month in PNG form: January 2019:
If you want to check out last year’s awareness calendar, click here!
Recovery: From All Wrapped Up Christmas Show by Step’n Out Dance Studio
Step’n Out Dance Studios, owned by Susan Tomaselli in Norwalk, CT hosted a Christmas Show called All Wrapped Up. The second act included a dance called “Recovery”, choreographed by Shelby Greger. Recovery dancers are from Step’n Out’s Girls Advanced Hip Hop 2 class, and include: Olivia D’Elia, Julia Lihv, Nahjeera Miller, Kate Riordan, and Marissa Roc. Watch this incredibly moving dance, which was opened by the announcer saying, “To all those who are suffering, you are not alone”. To those of us who fight every day to be O.K., this is for you! Enjoy, and happy holidays from TurningPointCT.org
Best things to do on Winter Break?
New Years is almost here! Isn’t that crazy?! It’s almost 2019!
That means winter break is coming!! Maybe it’s even started for you already!
So, what’s your favorite thing to do on winter break? What are you looking forward to?
I won’t be back in school until the end of January, so I’m looking forward to SLEEP!! I’m also looking forward to taking some time off with Willow, and doing a few nerdy holiday things before Christmas. Hopefully we get one nice snow day, too!
How about you guys?
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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