The holiday season is often a time of joy and celebration, but for those who experience social
anxiety, it can also be a source of stress and discomfort. Social gatherings, such as family events
and office parties, can result in significant unease and feelings of anxiety. It is possible,
however, to learn the right skills to manage these symptoms so that you can make the most of
the festive season.
Preparation is Key
One of the most effective ways to manage social anxiety is through preparation. Before
attending an event, make a plan. Identify potential triggers to anxiety symptoms, consider
coping skills that you can use in the moment, and consider including additional supports, like
friends and family members, in your preparation plan.
When you feel anxious, you may find yourself worrying about something you said a few
minutes ago, or how you might approach a conversation later during the event. Do your best to
remain in the moment, and focus on enjoying the festivities going on around you. Mindfully
engage in conversation, or if you need a break, mindfully enjoy yummy foods. This, along with
other mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, can help you stay grounded and calm
during social interactions.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Social anxiety can sometimes stem from negative self-talk and irrational fears. Challenge these
thoughts by asking yourself if they are based on facts or assumptions. More often than not, you
will find that your worries are unfounded. When you recognize that these thoughts are
unfounded, challenge and replace them with more adaptive thoughts. The adaptive thoughts
can be positive (e.g., “I am communicating wonderfully with my family”), though they do not
have to be! Your adaptive thoughts can also be neutral (e.g., “I am doing my best to connect
Set Realistic Expectations
Try not to place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Recognize your strengths and limitations,
and understand that it is realistic to make mistakes during social interactions. Accepting
imperfection can help alleviate anxiety. Normalizing this can also help someone else who may
be feeling nervous, which can foster connection.
You do not have to suffer in any social situation if you feel like it is too much for you to handle.
Before you attend an event, consider ways that you can excuse yourself for a few moments if
you need to take some time alone. You can also develop a plan to leave the social situation
completely if it becomes too overwhelming. Don’t forget that you can include additional
supports in these plans if you feel it may be helpful. Remember, you are in control of your
If your social anxiety is severe and significantly impairs your life, consider seeking professional
help. A therapist can help you develop adaptive coping strategies and effective communication
skills that you can use during social situations. If you are already working with a therapist,
consider scheduling booster sessions in preparation for challenging social events.
You Can Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!
Social anxiety during the holidays is a common struggle, however it does not have to get in the
way of you enjoying the holiday season. By preparing, practicing mindfulness, challenging
negative thoughts, and using adaptive coping skills during social situations, you can make the
holiday season more enjoyable. Seek support from friends and family, set realistic expectations
for yourself, and have exit strategies in place to maintain your boundaries and help manage
anxiety. If you are struggling to manage your anxiety on your own, consider reaching out to a
mental health professional for additional support. With these tips, you can manage your social
anxiety and fully embrace the holiday season with confidence and joy.
At Home For Balance, we have a team of therapists committed to supporting those who may be
struggling with anxiety. Some of our clinicians can provide services in different states and
languages besides English including Spanish, Ukrainian, and Russian. Online sessions are also
available. For more information, please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or at
561.600.1424 for a FREE 30-minute consultation!
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