6 Holiday Conversation Starters to Ease Anxiety in Social Situations

6 Holiday Conversation Starters to Ease Anxiety in Social Situations

"For people with social anxiety, the holiday season sends anxiety symptoms into overdrive."

Holiday Conversation Starters

The holidays can be triggering for a person with social anxiety. Office parties, family events, and crowded malls may make you want to press fast forward on the holidays and wake up when the fanfare is over.

Many people turn to alcohol to ease the anxiety of the holiday season. But this solution is faulty. Like other central nervous system depressants, alcohol may initially appear to have calming effects on stress levels, but once it leaves the system, your symptoms come back full force.

Read on to find out more about how to deal with social anxiety during the holidays, including conversation starter examples to help make socializing less frightening.

Social Anxiety During the Holidays

Social anxiety is not the same as shyness. People with social anxiety have an intense and persistent fear of being watched and judged by others, especially when interacting with or performing for others. This may include the most ordinary situations like attending a meeting at work, chatting with the clerk at the local grocery store, or even sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with your relatives. 

Common symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Fear of interacting with others
  • Fear of rejection
  • Anticipating the worst outcome, such as tripping and falling in front of a room full of people
  • Fear that others will be able to tell you’re anxious
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Fear leading up to the situation
  • Physical symptoms like blushing, shaking, and sweating

For people with social anxiety, the holiday season sends anxiety symptoms into overdrive. This is caused by the pressure to attend large social gatherings and interact with strangers or people you find intimidating.

Conversation Starters When You Feel Awkward at a Party

One strategy that can be helpful when navigating social situations is coming up with conversation starters in advance. These are questions that are typically open-ended and allow you to get to know another person in a friendly, low-pressure way. 

Here are some talking points to get you started. 

1. How Have You Been / How Has Work Been?

This question may seem extremely basic, but it can tell you a lot about a person’s current life. Even if you can’t relate to their work or current life events, the question gives you a peek into how another person lives, which can be interesting in and of itself.

2. Are You Watching or Reading Anything Good Right Now?

This question allows you to discuss shared interests, which can create a sense of connection and camaraderie. When people find out they have common preferences, it eases anxiety as it provides a natural and non-threatening topic of conversation.

3. What are Your Holiday Plans / NYE Plans?

Everyone is bound to have some sort of holiday plan, even if the plan is to stay home and do nothing at all. The question can also lead to discussions about cultural traditions or travel, which can be fun to learn about and enjoyable for the person to discuss.

4. Any Favorite Memories from the Last Year?

This question encourages people to reflect on positive and memorable experiences from the past year, which can be an uplifting conversation starter. Learning about someone's favorite memories also provides insights into their values, which may foster a deeper connection.

5. What Kind of Holiday Decorator Are You?

When it comes to decorating, do they go all out and truly deck the halls? Or do they get nauseous at the sight of tinsel? Finding out what a person thinks about holiday decorations may give you some insights into their taste, style, and maybe even their family traditions.

6. Did You Purchase or Receive Any Funny or Bizarre Presents?

Who doesn’t love talking about gifts? Maybe they participated in a white elephant gift exchange or received a handmade treasure from their kid. Maybe they don’t celebrate with gifts at all. Try this conversation starter to get them talking about what some consider the most fun part of the holidays.

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How to Cope With Social Anxiety in Unfamiliar Situations

Social anxiety can be triggered anywhere, but it is most common (and intense) when it happens in unfamiliar situations where you may not have an escape plan. Instead of escaping, try the following tips, ranging from mindfulness to homeopathic medication

Practicing Mindfulness

From meditation to mindful breathing, mindfulness practices can help increase self-awareness so you can become more cognizant of your social anxiety triggers and patterns and challenge them. Mindfulness also eases rumination, which is characterized by all those “what ifs” circling around your head. By refocusing your attention to your breath and body, you realize that the worry is separate from you and can be controlled. Mindfulness can also calm the physical manifestations of your anxiety, like rapid heartbeat, shaking, and sweating by reducing the stress hormone cortisol.1 

Explore some mindfulness practices here.

Prioritizing Sleep 

You may be tempted to stay up too late during the holiday festivities, but neglecting your sleep will only make matters worse. Sleep deprivation is known to worsen anxiety, and when it happens too often it can create a negative cycle involving insomnia and anxiety disorders.2 Try your best to stick to your usual sleep schedule, waking up at the same time every day and going to bed at the same time, and aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep. This will keep your body’s circadian rhythm intact, your emotions balanced, and severe anxiety at bay.

Explore some sleep tips here.

Following a Healthy Diet 

There are so many opportunities to indulge over the holidays with excess alcohol and sugar. While substances and sugary treats may provide some pleasure in the short-term, they are also notorious for exacerbating anxiety symptoms. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. If you drink, remember to pace yourself and hydrate consistently and use moderation when feasting on desserts. 

Explore some nutrition tips here.

Taking Homeopathic Anxiety Medicines

Many people turn to prescription medication to cope with social anxiety. At Brillia, we recognize the value in these types of medications and know they are the best solution for some individuals. But we also prefer to see prescription medication as a last resort after gentler options have been explored first. This can help you avoid the many side effects associated with prescription anxiety medication, such as drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, and dependency. 

One alternative to prescription drugs is Brillia, a homeopathic medication clinically proven to reduce anxiety and stress without harsh, synthetic chemicals or harmful side effects. Consisting of antibodies to the S100B protein, which plays a key role in interneuronal communication and mood regulation, Brillia offers a gentle and impactful route to feeling calm and focused without masking your personality or affecting any other systems in the body. 

It’s important to note that Brillia is not a quick fix. You can’t just pop it before a social event and feel immediately at ease. Once you find your correct dose, you must take Brillia consistently in order for the active ingredient to build up in the system and work. This takes around two to three weeks for some individuals, and longer for others. To maximize your results, Brillia works in tandem with healthy lifestyle habits like proper nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness. This holistic approach addresses the root cause of anxiety through behavioral management and antibody support, providing a strategic plan to reduce anxiety long-term.

Find out how to find your Brillia dose.

Seeking Professional Help

If you need more support for your social anxiety, consider talking to a therapist or counselor. They will work with you to uncover the roots of your anxious thoughts and come up with tailored strategies to reduce your anxiety long-term. Whatever you decide to do, taking action is the first step in the right direction and the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season.

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References: 1https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/mindfulness-meditation-associated-lower-stress-hormone, 2https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/anxiety-and-sleep
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