VOTE NOW: What stresses you out most around the holidays?

Posted at 5:12 AM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-18 10:45:13-05

For many people, the holidays are filled with family get-togethers and after-hours office parties.

But for those who struggle with social anxiety, such events can often be more stressful than fun-filled.

According to Joseph Rock, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, when it comes to getting social anxiety under control, it helps to keep events in perspective.

“If you think about them as, “I have to go, it’'s critically important and I have to perform and people have to like me,’ –it puts so much pressure on, it just makes the anxiety worse,” said Dr. Rock.  

Dr. Rock said the holidays can bring an extra challenge if we’'re meeting new people because of new relationships.

He said it’'s easy to become overly concerned about first impressions, but it’'s best to put the mind at ease before arriving.

"“You want to do some things that you know have helped you relax in the past - meditation, yoga, deep breathing - and over the holidays when you get busy, you tend to not prioritize things like that,”" said Dr. Rock.

It’'s also important to be able to pick and choose which events to take part in. 

“You need to give yourself permission to stay as long or short a time as you feel comfortable,” said Dr. Rock. “You need to be careful to not beat yourself up if you don’'t go. And if you decide to back out of something that you made a commitment to, you want to be careful not to explain, defend and justify yourself too much.”

Dr. Rock said it’'s okay to not go to every event, but don’'t lock yourself away and avoid going out at all. He said going out can be easier with a support system in place.

“If you can take somebody with you, who is a support person; someone who understands your issues, someone who’'s sympathetic, someone who will be there with you,” said Dr. Rock, “it’'s easier walking in with somebody than when you walk in to a place alone.”

Dr. Rock said it’'s important for people to know that just because they have social anxiety, it doesn’'t mean they should exclude themselves from being a part of social events. He said the key is learning to manage the anxiety, not mastering or completely avoiding it.

VOTE NOW: What stresses you out most around the holidays?