Happy Friday! It’s 4th of July Weekend– one of my favorite holidays of the year! I love the food, the weather, and most of all, the fireworks!
Every year, we get together with my husband’s family for a big 4th of July party complete with lots of barbeque food, swimming, family, and of course, a grand finale of fireworks. Since mortar fireworks became legal in Michigan, our firework shows have gotten pretty spectacular. And at the end of the night, we wind down with a bonfire and camping on my in-laws’ 114-acres.
Truth be told, going to these parties used to really trigger my social anxiety. I love my family and always have a great time, but my brain likes to try to convince me that I’m going to be exceptionally awkward. I used to have thoughts like “what if they don’t like me?” or “what if I have nothing to say?”
Over time, I became more comfortable (and embraced my awkwardness.) Today I’m sharing some of my best tips for overcoming social anxiety this 4th of July!
[Related: 10 Tips to Help Someone with Anxiety]
If you’re planning to see a bunch of people you only see during the holidays, you can probably anticipate the questions they’re going to ask. For example: did you recently graduate? Get married? Buy a house? Prepare what you want to say ahead of time so you won’t be caught off guard. Don’t forget to prep for the follow-up questions!
2. Initiate Conversation
For someone with social anxiety, there isn’t much worse than feeling caught off guard. But when you start the conversation, you hold the control! Approach people first and ask them questions. If you don’t like to talk about yourself, keep the focus on the other person. Think about how you can use your own experiences. For example, “My husband and I just bought our first house! How did your home-buying process go?” Be relatable! Talk about the things that you have in common. If you aren’t sure what you have in common, talk about the party.
3. Change your Mindset
If you believe you’re going to have a bad time, you will. Thankfully, the opposite is true as well. If you believe you’re going to have fun, you will! Pay attention to your thoughts and see if you can make an adjustment. Look for black-and-white thinking. For example, “I am always so awkward.” Can you think of any times were you were actually pretty smooth?
Think about how you’ve rocked past parties. Have you ever had moments where you dreaded doing something that you ended up enjoying in the end? This works great if you’re attending a party you’ve gone to in the past.
4. Act the Part
Social skills are like a muscle. Confidence needs exercise to grow stronger. That’s why I don’t really like the term “fake it til you make it.” You’re not faking it if you’re doing it! That’s the real deal. You’re just still learning. So take this opportunity to practice your self confidence. Stand up straight, look people in the eye, and be the confident person you want to be.
[Related: Mindfulness for Self-Confidence]
5. Bring a Friend
Having a close friend with you can ease the social anxiety. Having a friend means you won’t have to make small talk the whole time. Just make sure you bring a friend who will stick by your side. Bringing a friend who also happens to be a social butterfly may not be in your best interest! If you don’t have a friend to bring, consider bringing your dog! Just don’t forget to keep an eye on him during the fireworks!
[Related: How my Dog is Helping Me Conquer Anxiety]
6. Take a Time Out
If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, it’s okay to take some time to cool off! Go to the bathroom and take a few deep breaths, rub on some lotion, and pull yourself together. Text a friend for a quick pep talk, or check out 30 more of my favorite self-care ideas! Don’t over-do your time out. Take just enough time to calm yourself down, and then get back out there. You got this!
7. Get Involved
Are guests playing yard games? Swimming? Playing with sparklers? Find something to get involved in. Occupy your mind with something fun! Not only will you worry less when you have something to do, but you’ll also have something to talk about! It’s way less awkward to talk about mutual interests than it is to make small talk.
8. Just Do It!
The Nike slogan is one of my favorite motivation mantras because it’s so simple. Just do it! The longer you put off the inevitable, the more miserable you allow yourself to feel. So instead, choose to feel confident and motivated. Try this: Recognize how you’re feeling, validate it (“parties make me nervous and that’s okay because a lot of people have social anxiety!”), and then jump right in. Worrying fixes nothing, but acting on your worry can. So just do it!
How do you overcome social anxiety? Let me know in the comments!