For some, working during the holidays means enjoying festive parties, drinking alcohol, and mingling with colleagues. For others, however, it’s a time when stress and anxiety heighten as the thought of attending office parties and events come closer to reality.
Although it’s more common for those with social anxiety disorder (SAD) to experience discomfort at parties, anyone can experience office part anxiety. Those with introverted personalities who thrive in solitude might experience dread at the thought of attending this kind of party. Or, perhaps the thought of being in a brand new environment sparks fear in some.
Around 15 million Americans deal with social anxiety. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to learn how to cope with anxiety and stress the more it becomes an issue. If it hinders you from living a fulfilling, well-rounded life, then it’s time to find ways around it so you can attend any social setting with ease.
If you want to learn how to cope with office party anxiety, here are three tips to get started.
1. Prepare yourself
When you know about an upcoming office party, it’s easier to overthink what the experience will be like. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing, however. You can use what you know to your advantage by preparing yourself for the event to come. Taking the time to acknowledge how you feel is the first step to facing it.
Think about things you do to calm yourself and relax. What makes you feel better after a long day? What type of environment helps you feel at ease and forget about your problems? You might enjoy a bubble bath or cozying up to a good book. Whatever your coping method is, use it before the party to unwind.
If the party takes place at a venue, you can visit it beforehand to familiarize yourself with the space. Knowing where everything is, especially the exits, will help you feel more at ease when you get there. That way, you don’t have to spend the entire evening worrying about how you’ll get away if you need a break.
It also helps to prepare questions to ask people you’ll speak to. People love talking about themselves, so asking them open-ended questions takes the spotlight off you and gives you something to talk about.
2. Set small goals
For those who deal with anxiety, there are times when it feels impossible to confront their fears. It’s more difficult to overcome those hurdles if you don’t push yourself out of the discomfort. If you continuously avoid facing what you feel, it’ll never go away.
It’s easier to step out of your comfort zone if you set small goals you want to achieve while at the party. It pushes you so you feel encouraged to do it before the party ends.
For example, if you’ve been wanting to meet more people from your office but didn’t chalk up the courage to approach them, a party is the perfect excuse. You can set a goal to introduce yourself to three new people by the end of the night. Don’t create big goals that are difficult to achieve in a short timespan. Starting small is what makes it easier to accomplish.
3. Pick a safe group
Think about the colleagues you’re most comfortable being around at work. Even if it’s one person, it can make all the difference in what kind of experience you have. Stay close to these people and create a conversation so you have something to do and someone to speak to.
If you feel comfortable enough doing so, confide in a colleague about your anxiety. It takes the pressure off of both parties when everyone is aware of the situation at hand. You can tell them that you feel more secure having someone to accompany yourself with in social settings. The right people will have no issue accommodating your request.
You might even discover that your team members share the same struggles you do, which gives you something to bond over. Being honest about your feelings may not be easy. Still, it could lead you to discoveries that build stronger bonds between you and your coworkers.
If you have an upcoming office party you’re worried about, you’re not the only one. Tons of people experience anxiety at the thought of attending a social event, but that’s no reason to miss out on the fun. Learn how to deal with social anxiety so you can live life without limitations.