So we’re officially entering ‘party season’ – where office parties start to fill the local eateries, and friends and family members start to plan things….
For most of us, this means a great excuse to go and buy a new wardrobe, and give ourselves permission to hide the bathroom scales.. at least until January.
Of course, for others, it can leave us wanting to just go and hide under the duvet and avoid the whole of December. And January for that matter.
In today’s article, I am talking about something that affects, according to the NHS website, around 5% of the British Population, and that is anxiety.
Or to be more specific.. social anxiety.
Social anxiety – a simple case of shyness… or something more than that?
Okay so the first thing that I want to talk about is how so many people still dismiss social anxiety as being ‘just a little bit shy about things’. They encourage people to get themselves out there, and comments such as ‘you’ll never meet anyone if you keep yourself shut indoors all the time’ are made freely.
Social anxiety is NOT the same as being a little bit shy about things. It is a condition based around anxiety that can leave somebody feeling paralysed by fear. There does not have to be any sense to it., It does not have to work around logic. But for the person experiencing it, the affects can really be life changing.
So, the first thing that I want all of us to take away from this, is that if you are somebody or perhaps know somebody who struggles with social anxiety, then a) you are not alone in this) and b) it is a real and recognised condition. Which means that treatments are available….
Be open about what’s going on to those close to you.
Next, you need to talk to those around you and tell them that you have social anxiety and find it really difficult to handle some kinds of social situations.
Believe it or not, a lot of people tend to take things personally, and so if someone is cancelling plans on them all of the time, their first reaction isn’t ‘maybe they have social anxiety’… they just think ‘is it that they don’t like me?’. This can cause all sorts of fractions in relationships.
Talk to people, let them know and you will find that they will be much more understanding than you’re probably expecting. There will be less pressure on you to attend things, and you may even find that with this less pressure, you feel safer to attend parties and family things because you know that there is no pressure if you do not feel that you can stay there.. just getting things out in the open can really take the pressure off.
Set realistic goals to help you get through the festive season.
Go easy on yourself. Know that you can and you will get through this.
Set yourself realistic goals, such as attend just one party this season. You don’t have to go to every party. And break the whole event down into easy to handle baby steps.
For example: Get dressed. Focus only on getting dressed. Then, catch a taxi and focus only on that. Focus on short ten minute blocks of reality, and put your heart and soul into that.
To make it easier, set yourself a ten minute task, and then give yourself permission to take a breather and bring yourself back into the present moment. If you feel anxiety getting the better of you, close your eyes and turn the volume down on it… literally picture yourself turning it down… and feel your whole body relax a little.
Know that you can beat this… but if you really don’t feel up to it, go easy on yourself. Learning to manage your anxiety may take some practise, and panicking about panicking isn’t going to help things.
Above all else, you deserve to mingle and have fun this Christmas, so I hope that you do get yourself out there and have a good one! And if you’d like to have a chat with me, and see if we can work together on removing your anxiety, then book yourself a free clarity call with me.
Until the next time, stay safe and warm, and have a mince pie for me,