Feeling a little out of practice with social gatherings? After a year and a half of limited interactions making small talk may feel more awkward than ever. But now that in-person celebrations are happening again, the holiday season is full of parties and dinners where you’ll need those casual conversation skills to be strong once again.
If it’s any consultation, you’re definitely not the only one feeling that way. “Everyone’s rusty, everyone’s feeling awkward, everyone’s feeling stressed and anxious,” explains psychologist JennySeham. She points out that the holidays already tend to be a stressful time and the pandemic has only added to people feeling like they don’t know how to socialize anymore. So if your social skills need a little refresher before your holiday gathering, Seham has an acronym to help with those social jitters: “GLAD.”
- Gstands for go slow and at your own pace. This includes resisting pressure from others and setting boundaries that make you feel more comfortable.
- Lis for “laugh about it or allow yourself to be lighthearted,” according to Seham. She says it’s all about accepting the awkwardness and knowing everyone is feeling some version of this.
- Astands for “acknowledge the weirdness” of this unusual situation. We all went through this experience and while there are lots of things in our lives that other people may not understand, Seham reminds us that people do understand this.
- Dis for “do things” to get out of your head, which can help. This expert explains that with social anxiety, it’s easy to get carried away with worrying thoughts and one of the best ways to manage it is to go and do something, instead of focusing on the worries. “Even though we’re like, ‘Oh, I may feel stupid’ or ‘I don’t know what to say,’ do it anyway,” she advises.
“Get it out of your head that something’s going to be perfect,” Seham says. “Know that something may be awkward, something may be difficult, and you will survive this.” And if some social setting feels overwhelming, she says “give yourself permission to leave.”
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