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Holiday social anxiety graphic

8 ways to cope with social anxiety during the holiday season

Dec 14, 2023 | Blog, Expert Insights

During the holiday season, families and friends gather for events and occasions. However, this can cause added stress to some young adults, especially when faced with large social settings.

In general, anxiety may worsen during the holidays due to lack of time, financial pressure, gift-giving and holiday gatherings. Social anxiety may increase when you are around others you don’t see often, called on to participate in small talk, or feel pressured to answer personal questions related to jobs, relationships, or political beliefs. If you experience social anxiety, here are ways to manage during the holidays.

A person who is experiencing social anxiety may appear shy or withdrawn in social settings. They may also struggle to be around people or find it challenging to hold conversations even when they have the desire to.

Someone with social anxiety can experience both mental and physical symptoms such as:

  • Crippling nervousness
  • Self-consciousness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Heightened senses
  • Dry mouth
  • Weakness in legs
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing

What are ways you can manage or prepare for social anxiety before you go to a holiday gathering?

  • Preplan some conversation starters related to your hobbies or successes
  • Bring a friend to the gathering
  • Set boundaries related to how long you will stay or around conversation topics you are unwilling to participate in
  • Have a self-care activity planned for before or after the event

How can you cope/manage social anxiety when you are already at a holiday gathering?

  • Offer to help the host to distract yourself with a specific task
  • Step outside for a bit
  • Let a trusted loved one know how you’re feeling
  • Attempt to reframe your negative self-talk or thoughts to imagine realistic positive outcomes

You should seek help for social anxiety whenever you feel it is needed, but especially if your anxiety is persistently disrupting the daily quality of your life such as causing you to avoid social situations at school, work, or with friends and family. Please reach out to your physician for help with mental health treatment and/or medication options.

Founded in 1986, Youth Villages is a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health committed to building strong families, delivering effective services, and significantly improving outcomes for children, families and young people involved in child welfare and juvenile justice systems across the country.

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By Emily Kelly
ILP Clinical Supervisor Outpatient Mental Health
Youth Villages

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