Here’s what you can do to alleviate your social anxiety at the next office party
This is a time to look at our potential instead of fixating on our historical performance. If we focus too much on the moments we slipped in and out of awkwardness or found ourselves drinking too much, we’ll decline invitations during this holiday season.
Yes, a tempting thought, but I’m going to ask you to squash it.
As you may or may not know, avoiding social anxiety only increases it. It’s an interesting paradox but very much rooted in reality.
The first one is that we want to end the year well. Whether at work (looking ahead to a promotion!) or home (keeping our relationships intact), we want to put our best foot forward, especially when we mingle with everyone else (either voluntarily or forced). We’re proactive in reducing our chances of being negatively judged.
Alternatively, our social anxiety could also be heightened because we know we will NOT be able to put our best foot forward. We see our shortcomings, assess our mental space and energy levels, and know we’ll fall short. We’re proactive in preparing ourselves for a downfall.
On the one side, if you want to end the year on a good note, you’ll place high expectations on yourself and go into performance mode.
Everything you do will be 10x. Light! Camera! Action! That’s social anxiety’s preferred mode because it’s happily waiting for you to mess up. You’ll do anything and everything to outdo yourself. For example, you might overextend yourself financially to either host a party, purchase expensive gifts to stand out, or adorn yourself in glitter and gold.
You’ll want to redirect all the attention to the assets and materials to avoid feeling stupid and out of place.
You can experiment, tweak, and polish it to reflect your needs and be on your way. This is your action plan. Use the template and create your actionable steps toward a goal.
On the flip side, if you’re not in a good place mentally, emotionally, or even physically, your social anxiety will remind you and laugh in your face as it compares you to everyone else who has their shit together.
If you’re going into the end-of-the-year office party feeling dejected and hating that co-worker who got the promotion over you, chances are you’ll be greeted by social anxiety at the door.
Your negative body language will follow you, and you’ll grab onto any safety behavior you’re prone to (to avoid talking to anyone). You’ll probably make a pretty bad impression overall.
Its goal is to make everything awkward and embarrass you so that it takes it all into the New Year. It wants you to remember how big of a goof you were during the holidays so that it continues to stick around. Remember, its sole purpose is to latch onto you as much as possible because you’re its power source.
So, if you’re dreading the New Year’s Eve party, the end-of-year office party, or the Christmas gathering, here are some things you need to jot down in the palm of your hand. You’ll walk into any room ready to face it with more conviction and confidence.
If you’re shy by nature, it’s understandable that you want to grab a glass of wine with the hope that it will liven you up. That’s ok! Sometimes having a little help is good, but if this is your modus operandi, where you find yourself drinking because it’s the ONLY way you open up to conversations, stay away from the alcohol.
The last thing you want to happen is that you spill the beans on something your manager told you in private or you overshare to the point where you feel ashamed of yourself. Those are tricky moments to recover from, so before you grab a drink, think about future you.
Alcohol is a safety behavior. It’s easy to blame the wine should anything happen, but that’s not the impression you want to make. If you see it as a crutch, you’ll be in better control of it.
Another safety behavior is having your phone in your hands at all times. It makes it easier to check out an awkward conversation, or find yourself apart from the group, scrolling your feed.
You should think about what other safety behaviors you have a habit of and reduce them during these holiday parties.
This is important to track because it will sneak up on you when you least expect it. Social anxiety means you fear people judging you, and what’s more nerve-wracking than choosing a gift for someone this season? Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, coming empty-handed to someone’s home is a big no-no.
You’ll probably have a hard time with this because you want to make the best impression and come off as thoughtful, but the truth is that no matter how much you try, there’s another party on the other side with their perspective on what being thoughtful means. We can extend this tip to an area that doesn’t involve gift-giving – for example, how you behave at the dinner table.
At some point, maybe you’ll forget to offer your colleague the bread basket, or you’ll eat the last piece of the pie.
What I hope for you is that you don’t go down the rabbit hole of overthinking every single action you take (or don’t take) and fault yourself for not being thoughtful enough.
You’re already stressing over saying yes to an invitation; you don’t need to push it further. You do not have to drive to the location with your other colleagues – feel free to take your mode of transportation so you’re not stuck in a situation where you want to leave but can’t.
If you promised yourself you won’t down the alcohol, kindly let people know you’re taking a break or minding it for the night. Whatever boundary you’re placing, please keep it in check. It will reduce your social anxiety significantly because you’ll have a guardrail to fall back upon.
See it this way: imagine you’re a car driving over a bridge. Your boundaries are the barriers holding you within the lane, so you don’t go over the edge. That’s how important they are!
Social anxiety during the holidays can ruin entire visits and make you never want to accept an invitation again, which is what we want to avoid more than anything! You can read this post several times to imprint the information on your eyelids. You’ll probably find yourself in these valid situations, but now you’re aware of them at least.
If you need any support during this, I’m always here if you want to ask me anything.
With the holiday season upon us, chances are you’ll have to attend one or two parties/events where people gather. This post will walk you through the 4 things you need to keep in check so that social anxiety doesn’t show up to ruin everything.
4 things to help reduce social anxiety during the holidays:
I went from being scared to ask a question out loud to hosting summits online. I love coffee, french crepes, and working from home. My mission? Help others build their social confidence to make friends, have conversations, and be comfortable around people!
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