5 top tips to beat social anxiety and enjoy the party season
With Christmas just around the corner, lots of people are looking forward to joining friends and colleagues to celebrate in restaurants, pubs, clubs and homes throughout the country. But, if you are one of the thousands of people who suffer with social anxiety, this time of year is not one of good cheer, but full of dread and fear.
If you’ve been invited to a Christmas celebration and have already started to think about everything that could go wrong, imagining these things over and over in your mind so that you are already thinking of avoiding it, try these top tips and join in the fun instead of planning your excuses:
1. Write a list
Grab a pen and paper and write down all the things you are worried about. Include everything from finding the right outfit, to eating in front of people, to getting home. Next, write down how you will deal with each thing and, once you’ve finished, place your list in a drawer or pocket with easy access. Whenever you find yourself imagining what could go wrong, you can read through your list to remind yourself that you have already thought about these things and decided what to do. There's no point going over it again!
2. Take time out
It’s impossible to think clearly when you’re flooded with anxiety, so the first thing to do is take time out to physically calm down. Even just making a cup of tea or going for a short walk can help. As soon as you feel anxiety and panic building, you can slow it down by trying a simple breathing exercise, like this one: Breathe in through your nose and as deep into your stomach as is comfortable for a count of five and then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it out through your mouth for a count of five. Continue to do this for up to five minutes until you feel the anxiety subside.
3. Be mindful
Being present in the moment will stop your imagination from racing ahead. Using a simple breathing exercise like the one above, concentrate on how it feels as the air fills your lungs, and the sensations you notice as you breathe out. Employ each of your five senses to become fully aware of what you are doing at that exact moment, from the taste in your mouth, to the colours in front of you and the sounds which surround you. Make a mental note of every one of your senses as you become aware of them, noticing everything around and within you.
4. Talk to your GP
If you find that avoidance of social situations has become a regular pattern, or maybe that anxiety has become so overwhelming that you have stopped going out altogether, talk to your doctor so that they can rule out any physical cause. Certain medical conditions can cause anxiety and it’s important to get the proper treatment. Some people find that a short course of medication can help to reduce their anxiety so that they can concentrate on creating a better future - such as improving their relationships at home, finding a new job or embarking on a healthy eating plan and exercise programme.
5. Contact a hypnotherapist
Instead of allowing your mind to think of all the things that might go wrong in a social situation, harness the power of your vivid imagination so that it works for you, not against you. Hypnotherapy will help you to visualise exactly how you do want things to work out, how you do want to feel, bringing your conscious and subconscious mind together to quieten the negative inner thoughts. Your hypnotherapist will also teach you how to practice self-hypnosis at home so that you can take control and head out to each and every social situation with enthusiasm, full of confidence and feeling wonderful.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas 2016 and a happy New Year!
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