Jancee Dunn of the New York Times recently wrote: “Last winter, with the Covid-19 pandemic in full force, some families sat out the festivities, keeping celebrations with friends and family small or virtual. Some even admitted that the slower pace worked for them, said Thema Bryant, president-elect of the American Psychological Association and a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University. Now, with nearly 60 percent of the country fully vaccinated and restrictions loosened, all the things we took a pass on last year seem to be roaring back — and many are feeling uncomfortably out of practice when it comes to social situations. Not everyone, it turns out, is ready to party like it’s 2019.”
Whether you think you are completely ready for the holidays, are dreading it, Dunn offers the following advice that can help you get through the season. You can read her full article at, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Holiday Social Anxiety,” at NYTimes.com.
- Reflect on What You Missed (and Didn’t) During the Pandemic: We all only have so much social energy these days, so be sure to reflect on what you did and did not miss throughout the pandemic, and spend your social energy wisely only on those things that you truly missed.
- Leaving the House is a Win: If you have committed to leaving the house to socialize for even just a little you have already won. But be sure to prepare yourself before hand, have some tools to cope if you get overwhelmed during, and plan some self care afterward. For example, listen to music that matches you want to be in for the party before going, know where to sneak away to during the party to takes some deep breaths and reset and, when you get home, get right into your bedtime routine.
- Know the Difference Between Pre-Party Jitters and Anxiety: Nervousness before coming into a social setting is common, said Itai Danovitch, an associate professor and chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. “But if you find that your anxiety is distressing and disproportionate and interferes with your daily living, and is preventing you from doing things that you would otherwise be doing, then that impact on function is an indicator that there’s a problem.” If this anxiety is persistent and recurs in multiple settings, Dr. Danovitch added, “it’s a good idea to be evaluated by a professional to determine if you have an anxiety disorder.”
- If You’ve Ventured Out, Be Present: Have a review of the wellness programs “Minute to Arrive” exercise and apply these principles as you get to your gathering, and keep them in mind if you need them throughout to stay present and focused on what is actually in front of you.