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5 Ways to Prepare for Office Party Anxiety

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The dreaded holiday anxiety is right around the corner! Busy schedules are bombarded with traveling, 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 overthinking:

“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 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 you can prepare:

1. 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 that. No one will judge you for bowing out early.

2. 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.

3. 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 you find these parties challenging. This way, they’ll be able to check in on you and keep an eye out for any symptoms you may experience. Just knowing there is someone there for you can be a lifesaver.

4. 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 you and find out interesting things about your co-workers you wouldn’t generally know.

5. Go.

Some people with anxiety would think it’s best to stay home and avoid the office party altogether. This is probably the worst thing you can do. It’s important to acknowledge and understand your anxiety but avoiding situations will only debilitate 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 and bustle!

A version of this article was originally posted on the author’s blog.

Photo by Kevin Curtis on Unsplash

Originally published: November 29, 2018
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