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The Joy of Christmas Parties: how to cope with social events

“‘Tis the season to be jolly” we’re told at this time of year as we face the office party, the family get-togethers, the social events.    Lots of us let our hair down, embrace wearing the silly hats, getting  a little tipsy and throwing a few shakes on the dance floor, listening to Ted recounting the same story for the umpteenth time, eating just one too many mince pies, and all the while attempting to avoid the unbecoming photos that may end up on Facebook…

For others these social events of the year are one long nightmare: the very thought of socialising can strike fear into their hearts and they will go to any lengths to avoid it.   If that’s you then here are some tips to help you cope and dare I say Be Merry.

  • First of all know that you’re not alone.  Many people are nervous in similar situations – some just hide it better than others.
  • Don’t focus on negative thoughts: if you think you’re going to have a terrible time, chances are you will.   Don’t set yourself up to be anxious.
  • Relax yourself before the event, find somewhere comfortable and, while you’re in a relaxed state, visualize things going well and how you’d like to be, feel, behave.
  • Arrive early rather than late so that you’re not walking into a crowded room or faced with an endless round of introductions.
  • Slow down and take deep abdominal breaths (when we’re nervous we breathe very shallow anxious breaths, so pay attention to your breathing).
  • Be aware of your body language.   Smile!   It’s good for your body as it releases serotonin (the happy hormone) and people respond to a smile.   Look for other friendly, approachable  faces and introduce yourself.   Ask open questions that require an answer.  What do they think of the venue, music, food, drink etc?   Have a few topics in mind before you go.
  • Be honest – if someone asks you if you’re enjoying yourself and you’re feeling nervous then it’s ok to say that.   People like people who are honest and don’t try to be someone they’re not.   You may find that they come back with a similar honest response and that can start a conversation going.  Remember, if you do make a mistake, or say something you didn’t mean to, don’t worry about it.  Nobody is perfect.  Everybody makes mistakes, even the really confident ones.
  • Remember that people are generally thinking about themselves too much to be bothered about judging others.   Engage with them, pay them genuine compliments to put them at ease and they are more likely to respond positively.   Others like to talk about themselves: listen to their likes and dislikes and ask questions.
  • Live in the moment: take in the décor, music, food, styles, etc.   Focus outwardly rather than inwardly, stop worrying about yourself and have the intention of making those you meet comfortable instead.
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