The holidays are a time for family, friends, and loved ones. For many, Thanksgiving is a time to relax, reflect, and enjoy the company of those closest to them. But for some people, the holiday season is a time of great anxiety and stress. If you suffer from social anxiety, attending a Thanksgiving event can be enough to send you into a tailspin. Luckily, anxiety treatment and other ways to overcome social anxiety can help you feel relieved so that you can enjoy the holiday season.
What Is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is an extreme form of shyness. People with SAD experience intense anxiety in social situations. They might worry about being judged or evaluated by others. They might worry about embarrassing themselves or saying something wrong. This anxiety can be so severe that it interferes with work, school, and personal relationships.
SAD is different from everyday shyness in several ways:
- Everyday shyness usually goes away after a short period. SAD does not.
- Shyness is not necessarily associated with fear or avoidance of social situations. SAD is.
- Shy people generally do not feel that their shyness prevents them from doing things they want or need to do. People with SAD often do.
- Most shy people are comfortable talking one-on-one with someone they know well. People with SAD typically are not.
- Children who are shy often grow out of it as they get older. Social anxiety disorder usually persists into adulthood.
Impact of Thanksgiving Events on Recovery
For people in recovery from addiction or mental health conditions, attending holiday gatherings can pose unique challenges and set off triggers that lead to relapse. That’s why it’s vital for those in recovery to have a solid treatment plan in place and to be aware of their triggers during this festive but potentially stressful time of year.
Some triggers that may arise during Thanksgiving include:
- Difficult family dynamics
- Being around people who are still using drugs or alcohol
- Feeling isolated or alone
- Stressful work environments leading up to the holidays
Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety on Thanksgiving
But just because these triggers exist doesn’t mean that relapse is inevitable—far from it! There are many things you can do to overcome your triggers and stay on track during the holidays. Here are some tips:
- Stay connected to your support system – This may mean attending more meetings than usual or checking in with your therapist or sponsor more frequently leading up to and during the holiday season. Staying connected will help you stay sober and avoid isolation during this potentially lonely time of year.
- Plan ahead – If you know you’ll be triggering situations, have a plan in place for how you will deal with them should they arise. This may mean having an exit strategy for awkward family conversations or avoiding certain rooms in the house where people will be drinking or using drugs. Having a plan will help you stay calm and collected if things start to get overwhelming.
- Be honest with yourself and others – If you’re feeling triggered or like you’re about to relapse, don’t be afraid to reach out for help—whether that means leaving early from a gathering or calling your sponsor for support. The most important thing is staying safe and sober this holiday season.
Find Support During the Holidays at Insight Into Action Therapy
In the outpatient programs at Insight Into Action Therapy, support systems are in place to help people recover from addiction or mental illness. These support systems include meetings with a sponsor, therapist, or group therapy sessions. These meetings provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences and receive feedback from others who are also in recovery. This can be an invaluable resource for those struggling during the holidays.