How to cope with holiday festivities: a guide for socially anxious people

Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year – but it depends on who. According to a recent survey by the mental health charity Mind, the BBC declares that 1/3 of adults in the UK dreads Christmas parties and 1/5 avoids festive occasions completely. In result, it’s important to raise awareness on the impact of mental health issues and how holiday festivities can be a really isolating time for some.

Firstly, it’s essential to define the different mental health problems that severely affect some during the holiday festivities, such as:

Social Anxiety: Social anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance.

Depression: Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

Understandably, either mental health problem can make one severely pessimistic and have trouble coping with holiday celebrations. When you are not in a good place, it’s a challenge making the most out of parties where everyone around you is jolly.

And sadly, these are still pretty underestimated today. “The reality is that there has been long-term neglect in addressing the many problems that most NHS mental services and their patients are faced with”, says Kailash Chand on The Guardian. Fortunately, the NHS came up with a plan for improving mental health care by 2020-21.

 Now, according to the “Like Minds” video on BBC, there are different ways to feel better and things to consider during the festive season:

1.Get some ‘you’ time: to feel more relaxed 

2. Be honest about how you feel: people can be more comprehensive than you think

3. Make sure you got a ‘buddy’: it’s less intimidating

4. Think about taking a break: recharge your batteries

5. Know when you have had enough: it’s perfectly acceptable to say you’ve had enough and you want to go home. 

When watching the video, you can notice that both affected individuals declare, “I’m worried I’ll be the worst person at the party ever”, or, “I can put a persona to hide my anxiety”. This sheds light on mental health repercussions.

But the good part is:

The more exposure you have to social interactions at parties, the quicker you will combat your anxiety”, says Dr. Tess Browne, psychologist.

It’s like riding a bicycle. The more you practice, the better you will get at it. Surely easier said than done – but it’s something to bear in mind.

Additionally, let’s not neglect the simple tips to consider for people with all sorts of mental health problems, such as not binge-drinking alcohol which can be very risky for those who are not in a good place. It might appear as the solution in the moment, but there is one thing to remember: alcohol is a depressant.

Another great thing to consider, whether affected by mental health issues or not, is that stepping away from your comfort zone will lead to many positive effects. People will remember that you were present – which means, in other words, that you care. No one will forget that, and you will be recognized and appreciated for it.

To conclude, it is necessary to spare a thought to all those affected by mental health issues who will probably not enjoy the holiday festivities as much as you or your friends will. In 2017, in an era where numerous “Mental Health Awareness Week” or “days” are usual, it seems as though there is still a huge underestimation… and that has to change.

Hopefully, these tips will help for anyone in need. Remember that you are not alone – and the more you face your fears, the more confident you will become!

Here you can read ways to make the most of your holiday this year, to help your career and yourself!

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