How To Cope With Anxiety This Holiday Season

Tips for Managing Social AnxietyIt’s holiday time again. Unfortunately, some people may not experience social anxiety throughout the rest of the year but will experience it now. When this occurs, it’s what’s known as holiday anxiety.

Understanding Social Anxiety

Many people will experience holiday anxiety this year. This anxiety isn’t merely about being a shy or introverted person. It’s a mental health condition that’s grown worse due to the pandemic.

Signs and Symptoms
Do you know what it means when someone says that they feel anxiety in social situations? According to the DSM (the handbook used in diagnosing mental health issues), a person must exhibit several signs and symptoms to be diagnosed with this form of anxiety. These include:

  • Fear about social events or settings
  • Fear of being judged, criticized, or scrutinized is a social setting
  • Intense self-consciousness
  • Tendencies to avoid social situations or to self-medicate
  • Emotional distress during social interactions
  • Cognitive symptoms (e.g., ruminating, racing thoughts, negative thinking, difficulty thinking clearly or making decisions)

The Impact of Social Anxiety

While you may think that you’re the only one affected by holiday anxiety, this isn’t true. The people around you are also affected. These effects include:

  • Social anxiety impairs our interpersonal relationships both at home and at work. The results include poor communication, disconnection, relationship conflict, misunderstandings, conflict avoidance, and interpersonal challenges.
  • You may also notice that your self-worth diminishes. Once you start down this dark staircase, you’ll have issues with your confidence, self-acceptance, and self-esteem.
  • Decreased job or academic performance also occurs due to holiday anxiety. Some of the most common issues here include absenteeism, tardiness, and avoidance of tasks or opportunities that lead to growth and development. There may also be a lack of self-advocacy, assertiveness, or negotiation.
  • Since you’ll have fewer friends, weaker relationships, and isolation issues, you’ll grow more isolated. As this occurs, you may also suffer from behavioral health problems such as depression and substance abuse.

Tips for Managing Social Anxiety

To understand how to manage your holiday anxiety, you must first understand why it occurs. Simply, at its root is the projection of your feelings of insecurity or inadequacy onto other people. When you do this, you start to believe this is how these people feel about us. Since nobody can make us feel bad, we must look inward at the root of the problem and do the real work. This work includes:

  • Each of us has an inner saboteur who needs silencing. This critical voice in our head is born out of previous life experiences and relationships and cultural and religious teachings. It’s there judging and putting us down. It’s your job to develop an awareness of when it arises so you can detach from it.
  • Form a loving relationship with yourself as a parent, coach, and best friend. To do so, you’ll need to practice good self-care (e.g., proper nutrition, moderating substance use, rest, exercise). You’ll also need to learn how to go easier on yourself while also sticking up for yourself. Make sure you also spend some time reprogramming your thinking. By doing so, you’re enabled to counter the impact of your inner critic. This reprogramming will require you to use self-affirmations to encourage positive growth and development in your life. It’s a lot of work. Eventually, it’ll come naturally, and you won’t even notice your holiday anxiety anymore.
  • Make an effort to expand your comfort zone. When you take steps to do so, you should reward yourself (e.g., time for your favorite hobby, time for self-care) for successfully pushing past any anxious feelings you may have felt while in this social experience. This practice is what’s known as “exposure therapy.”
  • Take some time to visualize yourself successfully overcoming your social anxiety. As you heal, you’ll realize that your anxiety consists of catastrophic worries and fears about the future (e.g., anticipating the worst-case scenarios – ones that probably won’t ever happen). Practicing techniques that are learned in TMS will also help you here as well. Eventually, you’ll find that you feel more relaxed and confident when you’re around other people. All of this works similarly to how sports psychology works. When you visualize success in all walks of life, you’re more likely to experience a positive outcome. It’s because you’re harnessing the power of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Get Help for Your Social Anxiety Today

There’s no need to suffer this holiday season. If you find that none of these tips help, remember we’re here for you at TMS Advantage in St. Petersburg, FL. Contact us today.

Picture Credit: iStock

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