How to deal with social anxiety at the holidays

Written by Dade Hayes, CNN

All kinds of people end up in a state of acute anxiety during the holidays: demanding employees dread bossing them around, too few presents for kids, too much working.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are a tricky time of year for many social observers of the stressors and temptations that humans naturally gravitate toward. As a result, millions of people suffer — and some even commit suicide.

Compounding the problem is the pressure of being around others who are vulnerable and drowning in their own misery. Research has found that those who are in a bad mood may feel the need to seek stimulation to try to end their pity party.

In other words, the pressure to be sociable fuels the distress of others, so people feel the need to get out and have fun, thereby perpetuating the cycle.

My Reason for Happiness — the independent nonprofit founded by motivational speaker and creator of #46Pronouns Dave Rubin — commissioned research from Claritas on the state of the World’s Happiness Index and offered these recommendations on dealing with social anxiety and the pressures of the holidays:

1. Make a playlist.

If you want to maximize your happiness when you are face-to-face with others and engage with them, all you need to do is make sure that you are in the mood to connect and share. And when you are feeling satisfied, there’s plenty of music that will work for you.

“You can make yourself laugh. Music has powerful aphrodisiac powers and can take you away to a better place,” says Carol Isom-Hart, a registered nurse and mental health support specialist who runs her own company called Successful Living and Community Mediation.

You might be surprised at the depth of emotions people can hold when they are happy. On the other hand, if you’re feeling nervous and anxious, you need to be able to express those emotions — and you also need to be able to take criticism when someone (a relative, coworker, someone to whom you’re single) asks you why you are unhappy.

These will allow you to better cope with the social pressure ahead of time.

2. Have fun with the people you care about.

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