While many of us are full of excitement and anticipation for the festive weeks ahead, for some this time of year can engender feelings of fear and panic. Whether your diary is overflowing with invitations to parties, dinners and other festive engagements with friends, family and work colleagues, or you have a long, uneventful holiday season coming up, we can all be affected by social anxiety.
Social anxiety is a form of anxiety disorder which, in its simplest terms, is a fear of coping in specific social situations and of being rejected. Anxiety is a learned behaviour, so those affected need to ‘unlearn’ being anxious and develop a more positive way of thinking.
We sat down with Mandeep Jassal, Therapist at Priory Wellbeing Centre, Dubai, to give us some of her tips for surviving the festive season…
Have an honest and open conversation with a friend or a close family member about how you are feeling.
If it helps, ask if they might accompany you to a specific event if this will help you relax more. Only by explaining your thoughts and fears can others understand and offer their support and reassurance. It will also stop them putting unnecessary pressure on you to go out to specific events and socialise with new people. Have the courage to take this initial step and it may help to alleviate some anxiety.
Develop a hierarchy for all your various engagements, where 0 represents no anxiety and 10 equates to the most anxiety imaginable.
Attend those events that generate the lowest levels of anxiety first and then, once your confidence and coping methods improve, try to move on to the more challenging social situations.
Put in the groundwork.
Have a few rehearsed questions or potential topics of conversation up your sleeve before you leave the house. This can help prevent any awkward scenarios and by asking others about themselves you are taking the spotlight away from yourself.
Put things into perspective.
What’s the worst that could happen if you, for example, stumble over your words or your mind goes blank? Remember most people will be preoccupied with themselves and having too good of a time to pass any judgements.
Reward yourself for getting through each ‘challenging’ situation or event.
This will help to create a virtuous and healthy cycle.
Remember that there is always a trained professional who you can contact.
You don’t have to wait until things are at their worst in order to seek support. If you know social anxiety is something you might struggle with then contact our team of professionals at The Priory Wellbeing Centre.
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