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Mingle Bells: Tips to Manage Social Anxiety During the Holidays

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.


Practice Mindfulness

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

with others”).


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.


Exit Strategies

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

boundaries.


Professional Help

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 info@homeforbalance.com or at

561.600.1424 for a FREE 30-minute consultation!

For more information, please visit the websites below:

https://nationalsocialanxietycenter.com/resources/

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder

https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/mental-health-self-help-

guides/social-anxiety-self-help-guide/



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