As our festive season approaches many of us will be enjoying all the extra social activities that come with it. An equal number of us struggle around this time of year as the extra expectations and social obligations pull us from our comfort zone. Whilst we may have developed reliable coping techniques, excuses or routines in our everyday lives, opting out of Christmas parties can be a lot more difficult and we may find ourselves having to face our fears in order to boost our careers or maintain important relationships.
If you struggle with social anxiety, shyness or low self-esteem Christmas parties can be difficult and trigger panic, stress or anxiety symptoms. If this sounds like you, here are a few tips to help you overcome your phobia and enjoy yourself this Christmas.
Confront Negative Thoughts
Take a minute to write down all your fears surrounding Christmas parties. What is it specifically that scares you? For example,
- I’ll look like a fool
- No one will talk to me
- I might embarrass myself
Once you know what you’re afraid of it’s easier to work through it. Take a minute to recognise and process the fears so you can be mindful of these thoughts when they occur.
Counter Negative With Positive
Calmly and rationally talk yourself through each fear. “No I will not look like a fool. I am a strong and competent person who other people will respect. Nothing bad will happen. Other people want to socialise with me.” Find a mantra that works for you that you can repeat when you feel yourself slipping. Test each negative assumption and determine what is a more likely outcome.
It may also help to ground yourself with a worst case scenario. Although social anxiety can feel crippling, focusing on the worst case scenarios can help you put things into perspective. You have the power to change your negative thought patterns. If you struggle, this is something that hypnotherapy is extremely effective at helping people with.
Practice & Visualise
For any event it’s important not to build it up too much in your own mind or catastrophize with negative predictions. Instead, positively visualise things going well – you arrive at the venue, you feel calm, you get a drink and join in a conversation.
Try having a few suitable conversation topics prepared that you can call on if you feel stuck. Practise eye contact and smiling in a mirror. Whilst this sounds like a lot of work, preparation always pays off and things will eventually become easier.
Keep An Open Mind
When meeting or talking to other people it’s important not to ‘read their mind’. You don’t know what they are thinking so don’t try to guess. One thing confident and charismatic people do so well is to always assume the best of people and not to waste time worrying about what other people think of them. As long as they are treating others well and are happy with themselves that’s all they need. You’ll find that this approach makes you much more approachable and likable so focus on yourself rather than fearing others.
Things To Avoid
It’s common to have to dress up for Christmas parties but having to wear new, strange or uncomfortable clothes can add to anxiety issues. Choose an outfit you’re comfortable in and that fits well. Wear it before hand and get familiar with it. This can often help you feel more settled.
Although one or two drinks may help you feel a little calmer, it’s usually best to avoid more than that. Alcohol can make you feel out of control or do things that are out of character. You don’t need alcohol to feel more confident when you feel calm and prepared.
If you’d like more support with confidence, social anxiety or shyness issues I can help. Hypnotherapy is hugely effective at helping people with all of the above and more. If you want an extra boost before this year’s Christmas party, please do get in touch.