With the festive season well and truly upon us, and all those Christmas meals and parties, your social anxiety may be getting to set to rise a few notches.

For some, just the thought of being around friends, relatives and work colleagues can create worry, anxiety and stress. After all, there is all that small talk to endure and all those 'what ifs?' about saying the wrong thing, messing up or being judged in some way.

And even if you decide not to go due to those fears, there may still be that nagging concern over what they will think if you don't show up. So you're kind of caught in a trap of worry about going versus the worry of not going.

Just like with presentations, social functions may lead to worry about making an idiot of yourself, perhaps by drying up during conversations, not knowing what to say, or worries about being thought of as boring.

So what can you do to lower social anxiety at social events?

When Social Anxiety Strikes

You may find that as the social event approaches, your anxiety levels rocket as you imagine those worst case scenarios and worries. The closer the time gets, the more vividly you think of them and the more real they become until you get there and your anxiety rockets.

You may be worried about how you will come across, running out of things to say, being uninteresting, making a fool of yourself or some sort of mistake in front of others.

You may even worry about appearing anxious - perhaps looking hot and sweaty or out of place or even about having a panic attack and having to run from the room. Some people may also feel anxious about eating in front of others and the embarrassment they will experience when others notice.

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And all that anxiety may lead to drinking too much and making poor decisions. Or you may avoid eye contact, refrain from speaking or asking questions and adopt a defensive posture that seems to say to others that you aren't interested (which just re-enforces your social anxiety).

Reduce Your Social Anxiety

So if you are fed up of your anxiety clouding social occasions then try these three simple techniques:

1) Smile - make a deliberate effort to smile and stand upright and you will come across as warm and approachable to others leading to more enjoyable interactions. If you feel on edge or shaky, tense your thighs and you will counter that adrenaline signal that is trying to get you to move. Don't fall into the trap of looking miserable and staring at the floor as though you are hoping that the ground will swallow you up any second.

2) Breathe - quickly feel calmer by taking control over your breathing. Breathe in and out for a count of three to calm everything down - you'll feel better and be able to think more clearly. Which leads to...

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3) Be interested - it's easy to become too concerned with coming across as interesting and funny, getting lost in what you will say next rather than actually listening to the other person and asking questions. Focus on being interested rather than being interesting. Most people are happy to talk about themselves so ask questions and listen to what they say.

And if you need help to get rid of all that social anxiety so you can enjoy the self-worth and self-belief that you deserve then get in touch today.

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket