I'm Only In Control of MyselfMany people suffer from social stress or anxiety during the holiday season. I know that personally I don’t like being in big crowds or around a ton of people that I don’t know. This is especially true for introverts (like me) who positively dread attending large gatherings or having to make small talk to strangers at some work-related Christmas party.

I have found that the best way to deal with this is to prepare myself mentally before the event or gathering. If you find small talk difficult then practice some break the ice type questions that you can use when necessary.

The following will give you some tips on handling the stress:

  • Offering to help out at an event is another way to reduce social stress during the holiday season. You could hand out appetizers or refreshments for example. By doing so, you can limit your interaction with others while focusing on the task at hand rather than on your own discomfort.
  • Set a time limit for attending an event. You could drop by for a couple of Christmas drinks before announcing that you have to be elsewhere. By doing this you reduce stress and you are in control of the situation. Just knowing that you can leave at anytime is usually enough to let you to relax and enjoy yourself.
  • Set boundaries for yourself and others. It is okay to turn down an invitation to a party or gathering if you know that it will just stress you out at the thought of attending. You do not have to give in to others expectations of you. Don’t alter your personality because it is the holidays. If you don’t want to attend that family gathering then it is okay.
  • Saying NO is a wonderful thing. There is no shame in saying no sometimes.In fact, it can be immensely liberating. By deciding what is and is not good for you, you will be raising your self-esteem which in turn will help you manage your stress.
  • See people on your terms. If you would like to invite people over to your home or pick a special place to gather that you choose it will go a long way of reducing your stress and giving you the control of your time. You can have a few friends or family members over for a small dinner or some eggnog, invite one other person to come with you to a Christmas concert or play or, if you want to go alone to these things then do it. It is okay.
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The holidays might be a time for socializing for some people, but for introverts it can be downright stressful. If this is you, then honor yourself by doing what feels right for you. Take time to read your favorite book or meditate or just reflect on the year. Solitude does not have to be a bad thing. Sometimes it is needed. Enjoy the holiday season on your terms and stress free. Until next time…

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