The holiday season can be the most challenging time of year to deal with social anxiety. With family gatherings and mandatory events to commit to, anxiety can skyrocket.
To begin with, having too many plans on my calendar sets me off. I freak out before I even leave the house.
Holidays should be fun and filled with love and celebration. Sadly, for people with an anxiety disorder, this chaotic time of year can be quite hellish.
I’m not a medical professional, but I have been dealing with overwhelming anxiety for as long as I can remember. Here are some things I do to deal with social anxiety during busy times of the year.
Social Anxiety over the Holidays – Tips to Help Deal
Obviously, seeking help with a therapist, psychiatrist, or any other medical professional should be your first step. Seek out a therapist in your area, or you can even explore online therapy with insurance. The option to speak to a therapist without leaving my house is a game-changer.
Dab peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils on your wrists and on the back of your neck to ease anxiety. There are many other scents that you might find calming, but these are the two that work best for me.
Exercise or do yoga the morning of an event. Burn off some nervous energy and get those endorphins pumping to help calm you.
Personally, I notice if I eat too much sugar, it dramatically increases my anxiety. The more stable I keep my blood sugar on the day of the event, the more secure I feel in my mind. In fact, I feel best mentally when I am on the keto diet.
Other foods can be triggering, as well. Food sensitivities and low-level allergies can make us feel all kinds of unwanted ways. Keep a food journal to track your moods!
Sometimes during a conversation, I feel the need to talk a lot. Regardless of what I am rambling on about, or if I am contributing to the conversation, I just babble on to fill any silence.
This incessant chattering leads to sleepless nights of rehashing what a fool I made of myself. It’s okay to simply listen. Take the pressure off yourself and just be the ears of the group.
My uncle once told me, “Talk less, listen more.” as general life advice. It is a good phrase to live by. If the people aren’t talking enough, keep asking them questions and let them talk about themselves if you are anxious.
The first time you try to rock a new trend, like leather leggings, should not be at a large holiday gathering if you have social anxiety. That’s probably a horrible example, but I know that I have had days where I want to be trendy and fashion forward, and end up regretting it big-time.
I end up feeling super self-conscious and awkward, even if people compliment the look. If you are already nervous about an event, dress in something comfortable to take that stress trigger off the table.
A few cocktails to ease your nerves might sound like a good idea, but it could easily backfire. When you are uncomfortable, it’s easy to use alcohol as a crutch and drink way too much.
Being hungover always used to send my anxiety into overdrive, so staying sober the night before may also help you.
Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. I have been trying to nourish my adrenal glands. They are responsible for producing stress hormones. Adrenal fatigue can cause you to lose your ability to cope with stress.
I’ve also been experimenting with mood-boosting probiotics. An unhealthy gut contributes to a lot of health problems, including increased anxiety. Including supplements that may help in these areas is now part of my daily routine. Everyone is different, so if you choose to take supplements, be sure to keep a journal to track how you feel.
Magnesium is another one I make sure I get enough of. Getting enough magnesium is extremely important for sleep and mental health among many other things.
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This goes with the conversation topic again. If you are mingling and trying to start a conversation, keep the topics light.
Talking about your new puppy is a lot easier than any controversial hot topics if you have social anxiety. No need to get into any heated debates.
Remember the Good
Recall good memories from past events. Wasn’t it great to see everyone? Hopefully, the events you’re supposed to attend are with people who love you.
I find it helpful to remind myself how much I love to see my family and friends. There’s no legitimate reason for me to be anxious about visiting the people that mean the most to me in life.
It’s hard to get there, but I’m always so happy I went. Skipping out will cause major regret and even depression.
Give yourself permission to leave the party early. It’s a lot easier to get yourself out and make it to the event if you have an escape plan.
Chances are, once you get there you will have a great time and want to stay the duration after all!
I would love to add “just relax” to the list, but I hate when people say that to me, so I won’t.
Anxiety can be a beast, and relaxing is easier said than done. I hope a few of the above tips can help anyone out there that might be struggling.
For more suggestions, read our gift ideas for anxious people.
Do you suffer from social anxiety?
Have any tips for dealing over the holidays?