Holiday Parties and Social Anxiety

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • For the millions of people suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder, the holidays can be a troubling time. Family gatherings and holiday parties can bring on a panic or anxiety attack, just thinking about attending can cause symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating and insomnia.


    In the book, Triumph Over Shyness, Conquering Shyness and Social Anxiety, written by Murray Stein, M.D. and John Walker, PhD, the authors offer some tips to helping people through holiday parties and events:


    Show interest in other people. During the holiday season, people are friendlier than during other times of the year. Use this to smile and greet other people. Holiday parties can be a place to practice social skills in a more relaxed atmosphere.

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    Focus on the task at hand, rather than people watching you. Most people at parties and events are more interested in themselves, than in you. Focus on what is going on around you or on what you are doing, rather than on people that may be watching you.


    Don't over-plan for the event. It is common for people with social anxiety to "practice" what to say beforehand and plan conversations before you even get to the event. But this can cause problems if the conversation doesn't go as planned. Try not to over-plan and instead, listen intently to what other people are saying and "go with the flow."


    Drink responsibly. Many holiday parties include alcohol and people with social anxiety may be tempted to drink in order to feel more at ease. Even a few drinks can dull your senses or make it difficult to follow and hold a conversation with someone else. No matter whether you have social anxiety or not, please do not drink and drive or get into a car with someone who has been drinking.


    For more information on dealing with social anxiety and managing anxiety during the holidays:


    Social Anxiety


    Thanksgiving, Family Gatherings and Anxiety Attacks


    Understanding Panic Attacks

Published On: November 23, 2008