Helpful Holiday Tips from the ARC
She walked through the door as to avoid notice. Carefully and quietly she planted herself into the cream-colored rocker that embraced her. Body trembling, hands interlocked, face lost in the ground below. Ridden with anxiety, fear of the unknown, shaken to the bone and yet in a place so warm, embracing and accepting.
People walk through our doors every week, and everyone’s story is different but also very much the same. Social anxiety is very common among those who attend the ARC. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 15 million American adults have Social Anxiety Disorder.
So what is it really? Just being shy? No, it’s much more than that. According to an article published by the National Institute of Mental Health, social phobia is a disabling anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social or performance situations.
As you might imagine, the holidays can be very stressful with so many events focusing on social settings. Consider some of these tips shared by others:
- Focus on one person in the room. Find someone who makes you feel comfortable and that you can identify with.
- Offer to help someone. This allows the focus to shift from you and onto the task at hand.
- Recognize that it’s ok to feel nervous. Sometimes the best thing we can do is feel the anxiety and know that it will pass.
- If you feel overwhelmed in a social setting, excuse yourself. Maybe you need to use the restroom or get something from the car. A few minutes to stop and breathe can be very helpful.
- Attend a smaller gathering. Recognize that being in a social setting with people who understand can be rewarding and a baby step towards something bigger.
- Utilize those deep breathing and meditation skills you’ve learned. Don’t have any? Check out our Pinterest boards, especially Holiday Help.
Above all recognize that while anxiety may not be curable, it is highly treatable. We wish you a joyous holiday!
Suzette Andres is one of the founding board member and the director of the Anxiety Resource Center in Grand Rapids, MI.