Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Coping with Holiday Social Stress

There are all kinds of stress around the holidays. One of them can be social stress. It's all about managing your emotional reactions to things.

This guest article is 8 Ways to Cope with the Social Stress of Holidays by Cecil McIntosh:

Indeed, stress is a part of contemporary life. The facts make this self-evident:

33 percent of employees have taken mental health days, costing business billions in lost revenues each year.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they were likely to seek help for stress management. That means stress is having a negative impact on work performance.

Stressed teens are 200 percent more likely to drink, smoke cigarettes and use drugs. 200 percent!

Extensive research and testing show that stress contributes to high blood pressure (hypertension), heart attack, strokes, depression, a weakened immune system (more colds) and chronic pain.

62 percent of respondents stated that work raised stress levels.

Stress at work and school is taking its toll emotionally, physically and spiritually, tapping our energy and focus, diminishing our capacity to enjoy ourselves. This contributes to a problem many people experience, some to extremes -- social anxiety.


In fact, there are people for whom attending a party is simply impossible. There are people who experience agoraphobia, a fear of leaving their homes. Some remain housebound for years with this debilitating emotional disorder. And traditional treatments for agoraphobia have shown varying degrees of success.

Today, the problem is most often handled pharmacologically with stress-reduction medications, many of which are addictive and all of which mask the underlying problem -- the root cause of the condition.

Anticipation Anxiety

For many, the stress begins long before the event itself. These people experience anticipation anxiety. They imagine themselves at the event and tripping or making a social faux pas. Over and over, they envision the worst possible scenarios for weeks before the event takes place.

So, by the time the "big day" rolls around, the internal stress levels have been elevated for days or weeks. This anticipation anxiety takes all of the fun out of what should be relaxation time.

Social Stress

Do you know that people fear public speaking more than death? But you don't have to be that evening's speaker to experience elevated levels of stress.

Even if yours is a minor role -- a member of the audience, for example -- you may still experience social stress brought on by imagined fears and perceptions. So, what can you do to lessen the social stress in your life?

Here are some suggestions I give to my clients:

When you receive a written invitation, RSVP immediately. Don't create additional stress trying to decide whether you can pull yourself together to attend. Just RSVP and ask what you can bring.

Before the event, don't self-medicate with alcohol, medications or drugs. You don't need these things to enjoy yourself.

Before the event, picture yourself at your best -- looking good and having a wonderful time. Block out all negative images to lessen anticipation anxiety. Even better, don't think about the event at all.

Ask questions. Whether you're at a party or some other social gathering, ask others about themselves. We all love to talk about ourselves and this takes the spotlight off of you.

Never over imbibe. Keep it to no more than two alcoholic beverages in a four-hour period. Keep yourself in control at all times.

Assume that everybody's a little nervous at the gathering -- especially when meeting strangers. It's stressful for some. Assume you aren't alone in your feelings.
Turn your focus outward. Don't worry about how you look or that you might say the wrong thing. Use this time for its intended purpose -- recreation. Recreation.
Finally, remember this: the more socializing you do the easier it gets. You get better at it. You worry about it less (lower levels of anticipation anxiety) and, believe it or not, you actually start to enjoy yourself.

The statistics concerning school and work stress clearly indicate the need in our lives to recreate -- to laugh and have fun. Socializing shouldn't be something to fear. It's the antidote for all of the other stresses in your life.

It starts with a single RSVP or just a get-together after a long day at work. The more you interact, the stronger your support network -- and the happier you are.

About the author: Cecil McIntosh, Relaxation and stress relief, Cecil McIntosh a Hypnotherapist, NLP Trainer and Energy worker specializing in providing Tips and Tools to transform your stress into success. For a free 40 page report on the 21 formulas for a healthy and happy life visit this site now.

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