How to cope with holiday party anxiety

Many people look forward to celebrating the holidays with family and friends, but for some, those festivities can make them feel anxious.

“There’s a lot of different reasons somebody might feel anxious anticipating parties. So, some common causes could be social anxiety. If you’re going to a holiday party with a lot of people where you don’t know some of the people or all of the people very well, or a party where you might be in some kind of hosting or performing role where you are making announcements, handing out gifts,” explained Dr. Dawn Potter, a psychologist for Cleveland Clinic.

Potter said someone who deals with perfectionism might become anxious if they want everything at their party to be just right.

Or, a people-pleaser might be worried about two relatives getting along or a family member saying something inappropriate at dinner.

There are ways to cope in these situations.

For starters, remind yourself there is only so much in your control.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are hosting.

And if there is someone you’re not looking forward to seeing, you could limit your interactions with them or even leave the party early.

She also advises against drinking to calm your nerves.

“It may make you feel better in the moment, however when you are anxious you are at a risk of drinking too much and then you may do things that you wouldn’t normally say or do because you’ll be disinhibited,” she noted. “And then, you’ll have more things to fuel your anxiety.”

Potter said if you opt not to attend an event, you don’t owe anyone a detailed explanation about why you’re not going.

You can simply offer an apology and say you have to do what’s best for you.