Barbeque season….how to cope if you’re nervous at parties
When summer comes around, so do the cocktail parties, barbeques, and picnics. They can be wonderful and relaxing if you like to socialize…but a complete nightmare if you are socially anxious. What can you do if being at a group event feels more like torture than fun?
Most people would answer this question with a beer, but the truth is that alcohol is likely to bring as much trouble as help if you over-indulge and lose control. So before hitting the bottle, try a few cognitive therapy skills. Remind yourself that:
- Deep down, most of us are at least a little worried about rejection. Therefore, most people are also looking for someone to talk to, and will respond well if you smile and say hello.
- No one really cares if you have spinach in your teeth, or don’t say exactly the right thing. They are happy to talk about themselves, to comment on the weather, or to chat about the food. This party does not have to be the best party in the world – it just has to be pleasant. If you smile, you’ve already met 80% of social expectations.
- Breath. When anxious, your body will automatically go into fight or flight mode, including rapid breathing, muscle tension, and possibly an upset stomach. Taking slow, diaphragmatic breathes can neutralize your physical anxiety and help bring you back to the party.