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5 Ways to Actually Enjoy a Party When You Have Social Anxiety

5 Ways to Actually Enjoy a Party When You Have Social Anxiety
From TIME - November 14, 2017

Everyone has insecurities. But if you often find yourself worrying about what others think of your appearance, or you spend a lot of time sweating whether your peers actually like you, its possible you suffer from social anxiety.

Social anxiety, which is one of the most common mental health issues, is the fear of social situations that involve interactions with other people, explains Dr. Gail Saltz, a New York Citybased psychiatrist and Healths contributing psychology editor. The predominant symptom is anxiety about being negatively judged or evaluated by other people.

Socially anxious individuals might think things like everyone thinks Im boring or so and so finds me unattractive. Yet this anxiety can present physiologically as well. Palpitations, sweating, and dry mouth either ahead of an event or in the moment are a few common symptoms of social anxiety, says Saltz.

More severe cases can be successfully treated with cognitive behavior therapy alone or in combination with medication, says Saltz. If your social anxiety isnt extreme, however, and it tends to ramp up on the day of a party or right as youre about to ring the doorbell, these five easy tips will help you dial it back.

Resist the urge to cancel

Its tempting to tell the host that you just remembered you had a prior commitment on the day of the party, but ditching plans is likely to make your social anxiety even worse. Youll probably feel relieved when you avoid [social events], says Saltz. But that [relief] will positively reinforce your avoidance, making your world smaller and smaller and your symptoms even worse.

No matter how badly you want to retract your RSVP, go to the party anyway, says Saltz. It takes time, but the more social situations you put yourself in, the more comfortable youre likely to feel. One way to force yourself to go is to invite a friend along ahead of time. If youre thinking of bailing just before the event, they can counteract your urge and get you through the door.

Come with conversation starters

Socially anxious people tend to panic about not having anyone to talk to at an event or not being able to get past an introduction and into a real conversation. So come prepared with a handful of topics you know you feel comfortable talking about, suggests Saltz, from the last great movie you saw to politics. (Though depending on the crowd, politics could be a major landmine.)

Another idea is to rehearse a few introductory lines in front of a mirror or with a friend before the party, so you know exactly how youll initiate chats about your chosen subjects. And when in doubt at the party, ask questions; people like to talk about themselves. How do you know the host? is always a solid opener.

Vow to speak to three new people

Dont drink too much

Wait for the anxiety to pass

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