There are so many reasons why we may want to skip family gatherings. The uncle who tells inappropriate jokes. The brother who needles you about every aspect of your life in an attempt to feel superior.
If you struggle with anxiety, family functions can become almost debilitating, but there is hope. Here are some tips on how to handle social anxiety in the family setting.
Take some time to think about the event and consider the possibilities. Do not agonize over it, worrying and stressing will change nothing.
List-making will help tremendously. Make a list of possible triggers to avoid, like certain people or excessive noise. Make a list of other “safe” things to talk about: a new hobby, a flower you love, or their kids. Make a list of potential calming comebacks for that family member who just has to harass you.
You cannot control the behaviors or activities of others, but you can control how you react to them. By planning ahead you will have protective mechanisms already in place.
The Power of Positivity
For the family event, find a positive partner who may also know how to handle social anxiety. If there will not be one there, take one with you. If someone starts with the toxic negative talk, try to spin it into a positive light. If you feel yourself being negative, search for the positive powers surrounding you; the giggle of your young nephew, or the joy on your Mom’s face.
Find A Safe Harbor
It is sometimes treated with levity, but having a happy place can help you in many situations, including how to handle social anxiety at a family gathering. You can mentally go to your happy place at any time, but it may be necessary to also set aside a physical space when things become overwhelming. There is nothing wrong with taking the time you need to regroup and relax. You will enjoy the gathering more and be a better participant.
At Dallas Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, we understand that social anxiety is a complex condition. Oftentimes it goes hand-in-hand with other mental health issues, or drug and alcohol abuse. We have a variety of successful programs to help you heal. Contact us today with questions or concerns.