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Managing Social Anxiety During The Holidays

holiday stress, social anxiety, anxiety, panic attacksOrlando anxiety counselors, therapists and psychologists understand that the holiday season can be a difficult, sometimes traumatic time for individuals with social anxiety.
Do the upcoming holidays fill you with dread? For many people, the holiday season is a time for attending parties, visiting with family members and celebrating with friends. However, individuals with social anxiety find that the holidays are very stressful and anxiety provoking. Social anxiety during the holidays can be caused by worrying about what to say to people, anticipating how other people will act or being fearful of fitting in at a large gathering. During the holidays, social anxiety can become so severe that the individual with social anxiety tries anything to avoid the social situation. However, it’s important to realize that avoidance only perpetuates anxiety and fear.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize social anxiety during the holidays:

  • Expect to feel anxious. Individuals with social anxiety are anxious about their feelings of anxiety. Instead, mindfully accept that you will feel nervous and anxious, commit to staying with the uncomfortable feelings and know that your anxiety will begin to lessen when you don’t back down from it.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. Individuals with social anxiety often set high expectations for themselves and then feel let down when things don’t go just as they planned. Accept that things may not go exactly as you planned them and instead focus on accepting things just as they are.
  • Ask questions. One of the best strategies for social anxiety is to remember to smile, make eye contact and ask people questions. People love to talk about themselves. Be a good listener and ask questions about people’s children or pets, recent trips they have taken or movies they have recently seen. And remember to stay away from the taboo subjects of religion, money and politics.
  • Avoid liquid courage. Remember that excessive alcohol consumption is a poor coping strategy for social anxiety. Although one cocktail or a glass of wine can help to ease pre-party fears, overindulging in alcohol may negatively affect your ability to interact well with others.
  • Be rational. Individuals with social anxiety disorder often feel like people are paying close attention to everything they say and do. In reality, most people are quite self-absorbed and are probably wondering what you’re thinking about them or about what they will say next. No one is paying attention to you as closely as you are paying attention to yourself.
  • Practice unconditional self-acceptance. Silence that negative critic in your head by replacing your self-critical thoughts with compassionate statements such as “No one’s perfect and I’m doing the best that I can”.

If social anxiety is causing you to anticipate the festivities of the upcoming holidays with dread, there is help available. Anxiety counselors at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies to treat social anxiety disorder. CBT is based on the foundation that symptoms are tackled, instead of focusing on the underlying causes of social anxiety, and that if a person’s negative thoughts about their supposed social inadequacy can be changed, in time their feelings and behavior will change and their anxiety will be reduced.


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