6 Methods to Overcome Social Anxiousness this Christmas

6 Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety this Christmas

6 ways to overcome social anxiety this Christmas

– Without alcohol or food –

With Motivation we meet so many customers who have social fears before Christmas. Unfortunately, it's widespread. Many people want to avoid office parties or even pretend to be sick on certain family occasions. The main reason for this avoidance strategy is not that they don't enjoy other people's company, but rather that they want to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of being judged or questioned by others.

Most of us experience these feelings from time to time, but they can be intensified especially around Christmas because of the pressure that everything is "perfect" and that we have to be happy all the time. Under this veil of pressure, we guess ourselves and ask, "Am I wearing the right clothes?" "Am I slim enough, attractive enough, or funny enough?" "Are we going to say the right thing?"

But we don't have to accept this situation or think that I'm just not good at social situations. Instead, we should accept that it is normal and that luckily there is something we can do to even out these feelings. If you follow our six ways out of social anxiety you should feel much better able to enjoy these social gatherings this year. After all, they should be fun!

Unhelpful solutions

We know that anxious feelings – if not recognized and treated – can often lead many people to over-drink or turn to coping with chocolate (read our four tips to ban emotional eating here). We ultimately know that these things actually make us feel worse. When we feel anxious, the last thing we should do is turn to those "crutches," as the only real answer to reducing anxiety is to tackle it at its root – these are our thoughts.

My philosophy is that we Irish suffer more from low trust and social anxiety than some of our European counterparts, which may partly explain our over-dependence on alcohol for 'Dutch courage'. Therefore, instead of reaching for another drink or stuffing our uncomfortable feelings with food, we may need to take extra care to manage our anxiety.

So what works Here are our 6 ways to overcome social anxiety this Christmas

1. Confirm your feelings: This is the first step that will go a long way towards preventing you from using the drugs of alcohol or food (such as sugar or junk food) to process uncomfortable feelings.

Research shows that even if we simply name our emotions and accept that we are feeling them (without judgment), this can help reduce the intensity of the feeling. Tell yourself, "I am scared of this event, but I know that there really is no threat." You can share this feeling with someone close to you. They can assure you that many of us feel a little nervous about Christmas events and that you are not alone!

2. Find the source: Are you wondering where your fear is coming from? Is it the pressure to be “perfect” or to go a certain way or to represent a certain aura? Is it the location of the event or the circumstances (i.e., if it's a work event, do you feel the need to impress?)

Or is it the company you are concerned about, and if so, what is the threat to you? Do you think they are somehow better than you or that they look down on you? Do you think they judge you harshly? And is that really correct (see next point)?

3. Practice CBT on yourself: With cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, you need to question negative, limiting beliefs. You first wonder if there is a more positive view of the situation. And is there a more rational view of the “threat”?

Maybe a thought could help imagine that everyone else at the party is just as nervous as you (which could actually be true – maybe not for everyone, but probably for a couple). Another CBT skill is practicing self-compassion and kindness (towards yourself first).

So ask, "Am I really unsure here?", "What would help me feel more comfortable"? Ideally, instead of avoiding the event (as it can increase your social anxiety), you can say to yourself, "I can leave early and that's fine." Watch a great video about social anxiety here.

4. Look outside of you: When we are socially anxious, we spend a lot of time focusing on our own physical sensations during social interactions. This is because we fear that our fear will be visible to others.

For example, we can spend time assessing whether we are sweating, trembling, or blushing. But the truth is that fear is much less visible than you imagine. Even if you are visibly anxious, it does not necessarily mean that you are being badly thought. Fear is something we all experience and that doesn't make you unusual.

Whenever possible, take the focus away from you and really try to focus on the conversation you are part of. Don't think about how you look or how well you are doing. Try to just be yourself instead of building a front. Plus, it's impossible for everyone to like us anyway.

5. Practice deep breathing: When we are anxious, our breathing often becomes shallow and fast. But practicing a deep breath really helps calm you down by triggering neurons in your brain that tell the body that it is time to relax.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California have identified 175 brain cells that sense breath and change the state of mind accordingly. You can actually tell the differences in sighing, yawning, gasping, sleeping, laughing, and sobbing. So if we force our breath to slow down and deepen, we can almost trick our brains into believing we are feeling calmer than we actually do. The following are instructions for practicing “calm breathing”.

6. Change the way you see fear: Many of us tend to disqualify the positive when we are scared. This is because our brains actually change in a stressed state. Instead of indulging in all these feelings, we could say to ourselves, “Ah, this is my brain trying to trick me again. It thinks it is threatened, but there is no real threat here. In fact, I could even enjoy myself here. “What's the worst that can happen?

For example, you might trip and fall or trip over your words. And if that happened, would it be the end of the world? Wondering, is anything about what happened at that party going to matter in a month or two? Chances are, even if something goes wrong, by then you'll have forgotten about it. This puts everything into context and helps reduce anxiety. It can also pave the way for a new belief system in which you feel you can actually enjoy yourself, and – surprise, surprise – it often does!

Finally – a calming breath

Try that 4-7-8 breath::

1. Exhale completely through your mouth and make a washing noise.

2. Close your mouth and breathe in gently through your nose until you count four.

3. Hold your breath until seven.

4. Exhale completely through your mouth and make a washing noise until eight.

You can find more information on deep breathing here.

As we always recommend, you have six options above: pick one or more and work your way through. You will surprise yourself how easy it can be and it will make a real difference in the way you approach, enjoy and celebrate Christmas.


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