How to embrace social anxiety during the holidays

Holiday parties are often a respite from reality for people with social anxiety, but these gatherings can quickly develop into a full-blown panic attack. Feeling particularly anxious can be traumatic, taking away from the joy and anticipation of the holidays. If you have social anxiety, you know it can be a challenge to approach people and engage in conversations. It can be emotionally draining and disorienting to take in every detail of the person you’re talking to. But not knowing how to navigate these encounters can lead to hours in meetings or even some very public spaces being full of empty faces.

If you feel more comfortable talking in groups — whether it’s groups of friends or groups of colleagues — try asking questions and allowing people to share personal experiences and share funny stories. This helps relax people and puts you in a good position to ask questions or ask them to guess a funny story. Simply doing something nice, such as dropping by at someone’s desk or offering to drive people home, can help people feel more comfortable. Whatever you do, please do not compare yourself to others. Remind yourself that you’re not alone and support your friends as much as you can.

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