Christmas Social Anxiety

Christmas is a time for so many people that brings more and more triggers for anxiety.

Whether it’s work, family or with friends Christmas tends to be the silly season for nights out, get togethers and parties.

Many of us find this an enjoyable if expensive element of the the time of year. But for many people it can be a time of heightened anxiety

If this element of the Christmas celebrations make a person highly anxious it may be a subtle sign that social anxiety is lurking.

In small amounts a few butterflies about going out socializing is normal. Nerves about how it will go, not drinking too much, letting the hair down with people we only know professionally etc may just be good prudence.

But the warning sign is there when social things that once seemed easy start to become too much for us.

This doesn’t happen overnight and the difference might be noticed compared to how we felt the year before or even five years before.

If we notice in ourselves that there is a difference compared to before there is no need to panic, just read on, be curious and know that this is an incredibly common occurrence.

Making that excuse not to go out

Many times, we’re just not in the mood to go out! Whether it’s one night too many, the company isn’t our cup of tea or the money is the problem; it’s okay to not want to go out when it doesn’t suit.

However, if this is starting to prevent going to or enjoying important events, Christmas fun, family dinners, educational or sports groups or from just enjoying other peoples company then it may be becoming a problem area.

Typically people report a niggling voice saying: “I won’t know what to say to people”, “I won’t look cool enough in my clothes”, “If they notice I’m embarrassed it will be awful” or ”I just can’t face it these days”.

The same voice could before a Christmas event say things like: “oh no, if they saw the real me they’d find me XY or Z”. Thoughts like these can start quietly but can grow to become major stumbling blocks for us in terms of going about our daily lives.

Feeling a growing sense of not being smart enough, funny enough or quick enough can also breath fire which burns at self-esteem.

High levels of self-censoring, watching what we say, preparing conversation topics, uncomfortable emotions and body sensations in social situations all could point to the development of Social Anxiety.

The making excuses part is the manifestation and is when we know the anxiety is active. Anxiety by it’s nature makes us to behave in ways that try to limit our exposure to social risks.

This in the short term makes us safer but long term has consequences such as isolation, straining relationships and poor attendance.

Claiming to be sick, have a headache, inventing family problems, claiming to miss the bus etc.

Making excuses doesn’t mean we are bad, rather the excuses may be symptom not feeling safe and that anxiety that has begun to hijack a person.

If we recognize any of these points it may be worth stopping to think: have I always been like this or when did it start to get worse. Often, we wait till very late to seek help with things like this, but we don’t have to.

If the above is recognizable, again it’s perhaps good just to be curious and ask what is it that I am finding difficult and what does the censoring/excuse making part of me say about my self image right now?

Some people are naturally more extroverted than introverted and that’s fine, but if it suddenly is different, awkward and less comfortable than before perhaps anxiety is starting to develop. When it’s developing it’s the best time to act before it becomes too ingrained.

Getting help:

Anxiety thrives on how we think mixed with previous bad experiences. We can’t change what happened in the past but we can change our thoughts in the present.

We can also process the past and reevaluate our assumptions. This makes things like going out easier.

As an anxiety therapist every week I come across social anxiety and help people work to fight it.

Working from my practice in Glasnevin I help many people with all kinds of anxiety concerns and other life struggles.

Please feel free to get in touch with me by messaging this Facebook page, or calling/texting me on 087 063 0948.

I’m always delighted to chat to people about how we can change where they are at, to where they want to be at!

Thanks for reading and please like, comment and share if this was useful!

Michael LeddenPsychotherapist

087 063 0948

Anxiety is a merry-go-round, going no where fast, it’s ok to step off.