Dealing with anxiety

Dealing With Social Anxiety Through Christmas

Because parties ARE overwhelming sometimes.


Christmas season is approaching fast, and with it, parties galore. While many people are excited about going to parties, those like me, with social anxiety are not to so enthusiastic. It's actually moderately terrifying. You may be able to get out of most of the Christmas parties, but maybe you can't get out of one of them, or you don't want to be kept out of the loop. For whatever reason, you're going to a Christmas party. Leading up to it, you might not be nervous, you might not even be nervous until you ring the doorbell. If you've got social anxiety though, you'll probably get really anxious/feel awkward at least one point during the party. This list is up so you can mentally prepare for, and push yourself through those parties.

  • Christmas is a great time, and there are lots to look forward to. While parties aren't the most fun thing to do when you have anxiety, maybe these tips will help you to feel more comfortable. I hope that they gave you a little more confidence, and helped you get a new perspective. Maybe you'll even see parties as fun after this! Finally, remember that this party is not the end of the world. Even if it was the worst party you've ever been to, it's probably more enjoyable than say, spilling boiling hot cocoa on your arm. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all!

1.       Breathe

Calming down by breathing

If you start to get overwhelmed at the noise or meeting new people, or how you think people are portraying you, close your eyes and breathe. Slow your breathing, it'll slow your heart rate, and instantly make you feel a little better. If that doesn't work, find some tea/cocoa. They probably have it at a Christmas party. Just breathe into it and ignore all surroundings. Focus on the smell, the feel of the steam, then the taste. Focusing on smaller things can help you calm down very quickly.

Bring a friend along

Four Person Standing on Cliff in Front of Sun · Free Stock Photo

Bringing a close friend, or someone that you're able to talk to can give you the confidence of numbers. When it's more than just you, you're protected. You know that he/she'll have your back, and support you. They'll be there if you need them, and give you a hug if you need it. Just remember to give back to them, so it's not a one-sided friendship. Make sure they know that you're there for them too!

Talk to one person you didn't know

Four Group of People Smiling and Laughing Together · Free Stock Photo

Breaking out of your comfort zone can actually help you feel more comfortable at the party. If one of the first things you do is initiate a conversation with someone, the rest of the night, when they initiate conversation or ask you questions, it'll be easy. You've already done something scarier.

Avoid judge-y People

Stress Handwritten Text on White Printer Paper · Free Stock Photo

Try to avoid people that are going to stress you out, because it'll make your time there infinitely more enjoyable, and more fun. If you don't talk to the people who bring you down, you're a step higher than you could be. This doesn't always work, because sometimes they start the conversation. If this happens, do not panic. Calmly and politely excuse yourself to the bathroom.

If they talk to you again and start to criticize you/bring you down, there arenod your head and tune out. Listen to a different conversation, or think about one thing about them. Do they have a nice dress on? Is there makeup good? Does their hair look good? Are their shoes unique? Compliment them on it! They'll be so stunned they'll start talking about themselves, or they'll stop talking. Either way, the focus is off of you! Whether it's an "enemy" of yours or a relative who won't stop asking why you don't have a date, stop them politely, and say something nice to them, or even ask them a question. Once the focus is off of you, you can relax, and maybe learn an interesting fact about that person!

People don't care if you're weird/will forget conversation

Shrugging man

If you've got anxiety like mine, you often lie awake in bed, thinking about how awkward, loud, or just plain stupid you were at an event. You think about how all your friends must hate you because you were so odd. This sometimes limits me to talking only to a close friend as 'weird' as I am. I push myself to a corner and just say light conversation, instead of getting into actual details, and making closer friends. I've got a piece of information for you, and it's one that I just started getting over. Now, you probably already know this, but might need a little reassurance about it. Nobody's gonna remember.

When I'm thinking back to how weird I was, I never think about my friends. I barely remember what they were wearing, let alone how they acted or what they said. Chances are, the same thing's happening with your friends. Most people are too focused on what they're going to say next, where they're going to go next, to even take into account what you're doing or saying. (Trust me, I've been awkward enough times to know that this is true). And even if they were paying attention to you, the awkward comment or gesture that you made didn't phase them, or stand out to them.

Make a checklist/'plan of attack'

Click Pen on Notebook Beside Chronograph Watch · Free Stock Photo

If you're already spiraling down, you need your focus away from the center of your anxiety. Make a plan or a goal about where you're going to go, what you're going to do, who you are thinking about talking to. It could be a mental checklist, or you could write it in the Notes app on your phone. It doesn't matter where you put it, but it will probably help if you make one. The plan helps your brain because a.) it distracts you, and b.) gives you a goal; a structured order of events. It's not a big, scary party with no organization or aforethought. Having a goal also makes you feel more accomplished, as you're able to look at the small victories you made. You could also make a plan beforehand so that if things start getting bad, you'll know what to do to calm yourself.

Take a step back

Frozen Trees during Winter · Free Stock Photo

Stepping away for a minute can do wonders. Feel free to slip out the door into the cold winter air. I find that this does so much for mental rejuvenation. I step outside and think about how calm it is. If we're in a neighborhood, you can look at the beautiful lights and decorations that other people set up. There's no shame in stepping back. Whenever you're ready you can head right back inside!

Have no fear of leaving early

Green and White Wreath on Black Door · Free Stock Photo

If the party gets to be too much for you, and all else has failed, there is no shame in leaving early. If you watch the door, people are probably coming in and out frequently. You're not locked into the room, and you're not trapped by social etiquette. Don't stress yourself out more by feeling like you cannot leave. You can. Don't feel ashamed or awkward about it, just nod and wave to the person hosting the party, and exit. If it's easier, of course, you could wait until a person, or a family is walking out, and join them so you're not the only one leaving. Again, it's better to leave early, than to stay, and make yourself more anxious or stressed.

Christmas is a great time, and there are lots to look forward to. While parties aren't the most fun thing to do when you have anxiety, maybe these tips will help you to feel more comfortable. I hope that they gave you a little more confidence, and helped you get a new perspective. Maybe you'll even see parties as fun after this! Finally, remember that this party is not the end of the world. Even if it was the worst party you've ever been to, it's probably more enjoyable than say, spilling boiling hot cocoa on your arm. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all!

Popular Right Now

9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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