How to Handle Social Anxiety at Family Gatherings | Banyan Mental Health
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How to Handle Social Anxiety at Family Gatherings

How to Handle Social Anxiety
 

How to Handle Social Anxiety at Family Gatherings


You may have lots of reasons for skipping family events. Experiencing social anxiety around family is more common than you may think.

Loved ones sometimes aren’t shy about asking you too many questions or meddling in your personal life. You may even have family members who are disrespectful or rude. If you struggle with social anxiety, the thought of dealing with any of these scenarios can convince you to just skip it and stay home. Fortunately, our residential mental health program in Boca offers some tips on how to handle social anxiety at family gatherings that may benefit you.

What Is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is a disorder in which a person will completely avoid interacting with other people if they feel too anxious, stressed, or uncomfortable in social situations. Especially in social settings, these individuals may experience symptoms of social anxiety including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle tension
  • Loss of consciousness

While the occasional feeling of discomfort in social situations is normal, it’s considered a problem when it keeps you from carrying out your day-to-day responsibilities. Some people may experience hidden symptoms of anxiety disorders without realizing it.

At Banyan Mental Health, we offer anxiety treatment that teaches patients healthy coping strategies for social anxiety disorder.

How to Cope with Social Anxiety at Family Events

Have a Plan

One of the best coping strategies for a social anxiety disorder at family gatherings is to have a plan. Making a list of things and people you should avoid can prevent you from getting caught in an uncomfortable situation. You can also write out a list of topics you feel comfortable talking about.

Choose a Safe Place Where You Can Escape

Know where you’re going ahead of time and pick a spot in the area that can be a safe place you can go to when you feel overwhelmed. Choose an alternate location, away from the family festivities, where you know you can take a moment to recollect yourself and calm down without anyone interfering.

Don’t Take Negative Comments to Heart

A lot of us have that one family member that likes to criticize a little too much. While this is wrong on their part, you don’t have control over other people’s actions or words. The key is to not take negative comments to heart. It’s easier said than done, but doing so can decrease anxious feelings.

Don’t Agonize Over It

It’s common for people with social anxiety to overthink the situation to the point where they don’t even go. Don’t create false scenarios in your head that haven’t happened. Be prepared for the worst, but don’t anticipate it. The more positive you are, the better.

Small Talk Is Not Your Enemy

Small talk can be awkward, but it’s good practice for social situations involving people you don’t know. Small talk is a great way to be reacquainted with a family member you haven’t seen in a while or someone you want to get to know better. Don’t feel pressure to always know what to say, just enjoy the conversations that happen naturally.

Talk About Things You Enjoy

Handling social anxiety at family gatherings is easier when you’re talking about something you enjoy. Whether it’s your pet, spouse, or a movie you recently watched, don’t be afraid to talk about things that make you happy.

Create Boundaries

Lots of us have nosy relatives that ask one too many questions or deeply personal ones. If you are caught in a situation with a loved one who pries too much, you are under no obligation to answer their questions. Politely steer the conversation in a different direction or kindly tell them you’d rather not answer.


Anyone suffering from social anxiety should receive professional treatment to learn not only how to handle social anxiety at family gatherings but other healthy and effective coping strategies as well. Getting help can prevent you from experiencing the various short and long-term effects of anxiety on the body.


If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental disorder and don’t know what to do, Call us today at 888-280-2360 for more information about our mental health care in Boca Raton.



Related Reading:

Self Help Books for Mental Illness

The Best Mental Health Quotes to Keep You Inspired

The Difference Between a Panic Attack and An Anxiety Attack 

How Do I Treat My Anxiety Disorder?

Common Myths About Anxiety Disorders

Alyssa
Alyssa
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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