Dealing With Anxiety During the Holidays

social anxiety baltimoreThe holiday season is accompanied by many emotions and expectations. Gifting, family gatherings, office parties, school programs, social events and more are at an all-time high during this time of year. It is quite common for social butterflies to surface and make a grand attempt to attend almost every festivity. This is not the case for those who live with social anxiety. While some may encourage sufferers of the disorder to simply get over it, those who experience it understand that it is not an easy thing to do.

When does Perfection become Unbearable?

Adaptive perfection has been defined as striving for reasonable and realistic standards. Socially this would mean that one follows the rules of conduct and adapts to different social situations in a flexible manner without being too concerned about minor slip-ups.

In nonadaptive perfection, there is a tendency to strive for excessively high standards which is motivated by fear of failure. Socially this would mean that rules of conduct are applied in a very rigid manner which is driven by fear of being judged. As a result, social interactions become very stressful. Higher the distress the greater the indication that nonadaptive perfection is playing a role.

The Costs of Nonadaptive Perfection

Imagine facing the stress of going on a first date, especially during the holidays, and also having to ensure that you meet very high standards to ensure that nothing about you could be judged whether it is your weight, appearance, grooming, quality of your conversation, etc. Trying to be perfect in this manner is exhausting and can make one feel tense and anxious.

When one is trying to be perfect, the tendency to be hypervigilant of one’s errors increases. The focus on one’s imperfections can cause them to seem much worse than they really are. It will not allow one to get absorbed in or enjoy conversations.

The process of self-monitoring to ensure high standards results in conversations that lack spontaneity. People who experience social anxiety are usually trapped in a situation where they want to have closer connections but all that they do to make sure it happens tends to actually prevent it from happening. Their need for perfection inhibits them from being themselves which hinders authentic connections that lead to belonging and acceptance.

What people with Social Anxiety are often not too cognizant of is the fact that everyone has deficiencies. They do not really see others as flawed and human as they are. They make unfair comparisons and their thinking is often distorted.

The Adjustment from Nonadaptive to Adaptive

It is clear that nonadaptive perfection has several costs. Reducing high standards of perfection can be scary but if done in gradual stages the costs of the unhealthy perfection will diminish and you will gain the freedom to be yourself.

Seeking the help of a professional like Dr. Neal Ranen, M.D. in Baltimore County would be good, since you will have an ally and an expert in your corner who will guide and cheer you on.

Acknowledge your imperfections and make them uniquely perfect for you!

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