Watching feel-good Hallmark Christmas movies showcases a beautiful winter wonderland filled with festive activities like baking cookies, holiday shopping, and joyful celebrations. While I love partaking in these holiday traditions, one aspect that triggers my anxiety is attending holiday parties.

From work parties to family gatherings, Friendsmas potlucks, and gift exchanges, it can feel like every weekend is packed with social engagements. As an introvert with social anxiety, navigating these constant social interactions during the holiday season can be challenging. However, I’ve discovered ways to prepare and cope, allowing me to enjoy these events while managing my anxiety. Here are some tips that help me make holiday parties more enjoyable.

1. Meditate

Social anxiety doesn’t only surface at events; it often starts long before the party begins. To set yourself up for success, I incorporate meditation into my pre-event routine. Alongside my playlist and makeup prep, I dedicate time to meditate before heading out. While meditation is part of my daily practice, I add a 10-20 minute guided meditation session using apps like Unplug or Superhuman on nights when I anticipate heightened anxiety. This helps calm my nerves and get me in the right mindset to socialize confidently.

2. Practice an affirmation

Affirmations, which often complement meditation, can also be beneficial on their own during anxiety-inducing situations. By repeating positive words or phrases, you create a focal point to center yourself in the present moment. Tailor affirmations to address specific social anxiety triggers or use general affirmations like “I am friendly,” “I am confident,” “I enjoy meeting new people,” and “I am relaxed in social settings.” Incorporating affirmations before or during a social event can help manage any anxiety that arises.

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3. Bring a friend

Coping with mental health challenges, especially during the holidays, doesn’t have to be a solitary journey. While many believe they must combat anxiety alone, having supportive friends who understand my struggles has made attending social events much easier. If I’m uncomfortable going to a party solo, I bring a friend. If the thought of going alone triggers anxiety, having a trusted companion as a plus one can provide a sense of security throughout the event. Immersing yourself in the festive atmosphere with a supportive friend can help diminish the anxiety surrounding social gatherings.

4. Have a plan

The period leading up to an event is when anxiety tends to peak for me. Thoughts like “What if I don’t know anyone?” or “What if I’m stuck in awkward conversations?” flood my mind. I fret over arrival times, attire choices, guest lists, and event scenarios, making it tempting to skip events altogether. However, over time, I’ve learned not to let anxiety hinder my enjoyment of holiday parties. To counter these anxious thoughts, I envision potential anxiety-inducing situations and devise strategies ahead of time. For instance, if I feel uncomfortable in a conversation, I seek out a cozy spot like the bar or food area that facilitates socializing. Having conversation starters in mind can also ease social interactions, such as asking about holiday plans.

5. Congratulate yourself

Navigating social anxiety can feel like an uphill battle, often catching you off guard. In moments where you confront anxiety, be it at a holiday gathering or a work function, recognize that simply stepping out of your comfort zone is an achievement. Acknowledge your effort by listing small victories from the evening and revisit them before future social events. We frequently overlook our accomplishments in managing social anxiety, especially during the bustling holiday season.


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