With Halloween parties almost at an end, the dreaded holiday anxiety is right around the corner. Busy schedules are bombarded with travelling, decorating, cooking, wrapping, and parties. It’s easy to get overwhelmed during this time of year and attending an office party in most cases doesn’t alleviate the stress.
Work parties can feel different for others, instead of excitement you feel stuck out of obligation. The social expectations that you should feel joy clouds with over-thinking:
Who would want to talk to me anyway?
Will there be enough seating for everyone?
Should I eat beforehand, so I don’t look like a goblin?
Will they judge me for having more than one drink?
Where do I put my hands?
One of the ways that I combat work party anxiety is by making a plan ahead of time. Being in control of any situation will decrease your anxiety. There are several ways in how you can prepare:
- Set a Goal for yourself
Take the pressure off your expectations and give yourself a timeline. If you’re not comfortable with forcing yourself through a full night then why do it? Give yourself an allotted time frame, and check in with yourself to see how you’re doing. You can then base your decision off of that. No one will judge you for bowing out early
- Find your exits
If your office party is at a different venue, I recommend scoping out the area to gain familiarity. I always need to know where my exits are, in case I need to go outside for a quick breath. Don’t be afraid to take breaks when you need them, too. Realigning yourself after any symptom of anxiety is always better with fresh air.
- Confide in someone
If you’re lucky, you can bring a plus-one with you but what happens when you don’t have that safe person? If you’re on friendly terms with anyone at work, it’s best to let them know that you find these parties challenging. This way, they’ll be able to check in on you and keep an eye out for any symptoms that you may experience. Just knowing that there is someone there for you can be a lifesaver
- Prepare Questions
In my experience, I know people love talking about themselves. I try to bring up specific personal questions to avoid the common workplace talk: Where they’re from, pets/children, vacation, bubble gum preference, etc. Asking questions is a great way to take the spotlight off of you and find out interesting things about your co-workers you wouldn’t generally know.
Some people with anxiety would think its best to stay home and avoid the office party altogether. This is probably the worst thing that you can do – it’s important to acknowledge and understand your anxiety but avoiding situations will only cripple you. Even if your anxiety does make an appearance, at least you’ll be prepared and in control. Know that It’s best to push through your comfort zones so you can grow as a person.
I wish everyone luck in the forthcoming hustle & bustle!