And Breathe: Handling Social Anxiety Before Special Occasions


Most of us are affected by some degree of social anxiety at one time or another. We may feel excessively nervous at the thought of being in a group or trying to create relaxed, effortless conversation. We may feel self-conscious about getting dressed up or meeting new faces and strangers. There are many reasons that we might feel anxious and some might be easier to identify and explain than others. But if you’re preparing for a special occasion and want to feel more relaxed, help is at hand. Try incorporating a few of these tips into your routine and you should feel more confident in no time.

Plan Ahead

Last minute arrangements can make anyone feel anxious at the best of times. You can feel flustered and under pressure to make important decisions in a short space of time. Where possible, try to get things done ahead of time. Simple details like choosing an outfit or planning how to get there can take a lot of pressure off on the night. Leave yourself plenty of time to get ready too. Even if you don’t need two hours to get ready, why not take the time to have a relaxing bath or creating a soothing atmosphere while you do your hair? Book transport in advance like a taxi or get an Uber free ride if you’re a new user. You are less likely to feel panicked and anxious if you don’t feel in a hurry and have taken care of things in advance.


If you’re feeling anxious about a special event or occasion, there is no need to keep it to yourself. Anxiety should not be a source of shame or seen as weakness in some way. It is very common and a normal response to stressful situations. Mention to friends and family that you are feeling nervous or anxious, and they might offer some great support. You might even find that you’re not the only one feeling anxious! You and any other anxious friends can offer support and encouragement to one another. Anxiety is often exacerbated by feeling isolated or alone. Combat this by communicating early on with friends and asking for their advice and support. There might even be ways they can help such as by arriving to the party with you or getting ready together.


Think Positive

Try to be honest about what is making you anxious and turn it into positive thoughts. We may worry that people will not like us, or that we will feel lonely or trapped. Think positively instead. Replace negative “what ifs” with positive expectations. “I may feel anxious now, but as soon as I arrive and see my friends, I’ll feel happy and excited”. Try never to expect the worst. The vast majority of social occasions are happy, supportive, and lots of fun! As soon as you feel a negative thought surface, acknowledge it, breathe it out, and replace it with a positive. Have you tried playing happy or soothing music while you’re getting ready? Many people swear by this trick to alter their mood, and studies have even demonstrated some truth in it. Blasting out your favourite songs and dancing wildly can shake some of your anxieties loose!


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