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8 Ways to Deal With Anxiety Before a Social Event

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I am an introvert, but sometimes I don’t mind being out and about for bigger events. I go to concerts, festivals, birthday parties, weddings and so on. I almost always enjoy myself, but by the time I get home, I am exhausted and look forward to my alone time.

I am also a person who struggles with anxiety. Prior to these events, even the ones that I’m excited for, my mind starts to get anxious.

“Will I have fun? Will I be able to find my friends? Do I look OK? What if I have nothing to talk about?”

These are the types of thoughts that begin swirling in my head. As they churn around, I begin to panic and eventually, I have a panic attack. As of yet, I’ve only opted out of one or two events because of my anxiety. Through my experience, I’ve found some ways to lessen the likelihood or severity of such an attack. 

1. Have your clothing and accessories laid out well ahead of time. Try them on the day before. 

Doing this helps you to avoid the mad dash to find the right shoes or earrings. It also prevents unnecessary worry over fit, style and so on.

2. Prior to getting ready, gather your necessary items and put them in one place.

Putting things like your keys, purse, wallet or invitation in one place is another way to lessen potential anxiety. Personally, I sometimes become unable to find things right in front of me once I begin to panic. I’ve found that having my belongings in a designated spot relieves any worry.

3. Find creative solutions to the things you are worried about.

Worried you won’t find your friends at the event? Organize a carpool. Afraid you’ll get tired and overwhelmed before the event ends? Let the organizer know you need to leave at a certain time; you don’t even need an excuse. Unsure if you look good? Get ready with a friend, and give each other the once over. 

4. Wear light and breathable clothing.

If you are anything like me, anxiety can make you sweat. One of the worst parts of having a panic attack while you are getting ready is the possibility of sweating through your outfit. Try to wear clothes that are breathable or turn on a fan as you get dressed. If your outfit needs a cardigan or suit jacket, keep it off until you arrive at the destination.

5. Do short breathing exercises.

When the nervous system goes into high gear, it’s fairly common to forget to breathe properly. In the midst of getting ready, take a few moments for some deep breaths. If this is difficult to remember, set an alarm on your phone or download a meditation app for some guidance. 

6. Give yourself plenty of time.

This tip works in two ways: it lessens the anxiety caused by rushing and it gives you time to collect yourself if you do end up having a panic attack.

7. Take your anxiety meds as needed.

If you are prescribed an anxiety medication, be sure to discuss the appropriate way to use it with your doctor. If getting ready for events causes significant distress and limits your ability to do things, it may warrant thinking about if you’ve taken your meds. 

8. Do some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

This requires some more research but could be something to look into. If you have negative or unhelpful thoughts surrounding social events, it’s worthwhile to look in CBT. Reframing these worries can significantly reduce your anxiety.

These are just a few ideas on how you can hopefully lessen or stop this type of anxiety. I hope they help and make getting ready for social events a bit easier. Do you experience this same type of anxiety? What have you found helpful?

Unsplash via Septian simon

Originally published: September 19, 2018
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