The festive season is creeping up on us quickly. All those Christmas parties, the late night shopping for gifts and making plans to visit loved ones. However, for those who suffer from social anxiety and low self confidence this can be the most traumatic time of year. Just the thought of a Christmas party can cause months of stress and anxiety and many just want the festive period over and done with. Many people will actively avoid the office party as the anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating excessively and even a shortness of breath. If you avoid or suffer from anxiety at social situations try some of these tips to help you get through the festive period:
1. Positive Thinking. In the build up to the event, make a point of telling yourself every single day that you are going to try and enjoy it. Ignore the irritating chimp that is sat on your shoulder feeding you those negative thoughts. Try flipping any negative thoughts on their head by changing them into positive ones. Say to yourself “I am confident and I am going to enjoy this“. By telling yourself this enough times, your mindset and inner strength will grow and your attitude will change. Once you are there you may realise that it wasn’t quite as bad as you thought.
2. Exercise. Do some form of physical activity before you go out. Exercise releases powerful chemical endorphins into your brain that will energise your spirits and make you feel good. It can also act as a distraction prior to an important event and help you break out of the cycle of negative thoughts. It may even help you feel a little bit more confident, inside and out.
3. Eat before the party. If eating in front of people makes you anxious, have something before you go out. This will hopefully ease one of those worries.
4. Clothes. Wear something that makes you feel good. Maybe even treat yourself to something new. If you feel good on the outside it will help you to feel good on the inside too. Remember to wear a smile, no matter how hard it might feel. Smiling on the outside will make you feel a bit more confident on the inside. People will also feel more inclined to come and talk to you, if you are smiling.
5. Relax. I know this sounds easier than it actually is, but do your best to relax. Take a few deep breaths before you go into the party to help calm your nerves and any anxiousness that you may feel. Try not to worry about what could go wrong because you will miss what is going on around you.
6. Conversation. Try to make a point of starting up a conversation with someone you’ve never met before. It can be something about your surroundings such as “the food looks really good”. You will be pleasantly surprised just how much others will engage with you once you’ve made the first move. You never know they may feel exactly the same way as you do.
7. Ignore Negative thoughts. Make a conscious effort to completely ignore what YOU think others might be thinking about you. Have coping strategies in place that work for you, in case you find yourself a little overwhelmed. The only way to gain confidence is by overcoming hurdles and proving to yourself that you can do the things you want to, no matter how uncomfortable they may seem at first.
Parties can be intimidating but they can also be a lot of fun. Of course these tips will not work for everybody and they are just suggestions. If your social anxiety is having a big impact on your life, it really is worth going to see your GP as they will be able to help you.
Finally, if you are reading this and you don’t suffer from a lack of social confidence, please please please try to recognise the signs of those who do. A tiny gesture of saying hello and including somebody in your conversation at a party (and in life generally!) can ease a thousand worries!
Make the Change