Christmas is wonderful. And I genuinely mean that. I love the cosy nights in, the mulled wine, the snuggles under the tree, the shopping, the lights, the laughter, the family time, the wintery walks, the trips to see santa with my god daughter…I just love it all.
What I don’t love, is the social anxiety that comes with the season.
The invites to parties, the work christmas do, the drinks at friends houses, all of the festive outings. It can all get a bit overwhelming. Two days before my first proper work christmas party, I’m starting to get those butterflies that I know are telling me I’m anxious. And I really hope I can overcome it.
I have suffered with social anxiety for years and years. This used to manifest itself so terribly that I was physically ill (vomiting, stomach ache, dizzy etc) and tended to just shut myself behind my bedroom door and miss all the fun, in fear of the fear itself. I used to let down the people that I love the most, unable to get the courage to just push myself that little bit further.
I have grown a lot since then, and I have achieved many things socially that tell me I can do anything I want to do now. So why is that niggling fear still at the back of my brain? And why does it persist even now? Why does social anxiety stick around long after you think you’ve gotten over it?
In my opinion, old habits die hard. I lived 22 years within my 99% anxiety focussed brain. And 1 year outside of that percentage has been wonderful yes, but my habitual brain at times directs me to those old habits, wanting me to fall back into patterns of anxiety and seclusion.
How can I avoid that this year?
- Remind myself how much I want to socialise – I don’t want to miss out, I want to have fun, I want to laugh with my friends and make memories and form strong bonds with people.
- Be authentically myself – the real me, the truest presentation of myself, is fun-loving, silly, constantly giggling, confident, funny and happy. And this is the person I need to channel.
- Be present – I need to stop myself from thinking about what could happen, what used to happen, and what I used to be afraid of.
- Remember how far I’ve come – I must remember that I am not the person I once was
- Believe in myself
- Think about all the great things I have accomplished that were much bigger than a Christmas social occasion – who would have ever thought that little old me would have been on 2 holidays this year! I have been living outside my bubble of anxiety, and living the life I want to, I will not go backwards!
- Remember that anxiety has no hold over me
- Enjoy myself – allow myself to just have fun and let my hair down
- Ignore my unhelpful thoughts – “you can’t do this”, “what if you’re sick”, “what if people notice”…these are all old voices in my head that have no control over me now, and have no place in my new life. I will not succumb to these evils anymore.
- Remember that in my own company and in my own body I am safe – I have got my own back, I will protect myself
- Act my age – I am 23 years of age and I should be out having fun, I don’t need to spend anymore of my life locked behind a door in fear of fear itself.
- Allow myself to be happy
I am determined to make this Christmas season my best and most social yet, and not be bound by the fears of my past. I have written a list of all the things I want to do this Christmas, and that includes lots of socialising, fun and laughs with friends, family and my loved ones.
Wishing you all the best, bravest Christmas season to date x