CBT and Dealing with Xmas Party Nightmares
Have you ever woken up after an office Xmas party and thought what a boring that party it's confirmed I am not going next year' or 'Did I really do that'? What if you dread these dos and something embarrassing or worse is in prospect? CBT and talking to a CBT Therapist can help you but here are some points you can consider for some self-help before and after your office Christmas party.
I can’t bear work parties
Everyone else seems to be looking forward to your Xmas party, but you’re loathing the idea of it. You're anxious with big groups and maybe don’t especially like the people you work with.
The thought of a party / big group makes me anxious
You feel OK with one or two trusted people but talking to a larger group or colleagues/clients you know less well leaves you feeling like a quivering wreck. You would do anything to get out of it.
Some people let their hair down so much at the work Xmas party that they up being the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. You may feel the urge to tell your boss what you think of them or launch yourself into a striptease or smack someone in the face the fact that you can’t stand.
Recognise any of these? Here are some CBT based suggestions on what to do
If you hate parties/don’t care much for your colleagues (these are not appropriate if your issue is anxiety):
- Don’t go! It may sound obvious, but often people feel compelled to attend these events because of “how it would look” if they don’t. If you really can’t bear the idea make an excuse, but do ensure it’s plausible.
- Limit the time you spend there – decide your limit in advance. Remind yourself what a short period this is to spend on activities you don’t enjoy compared with the rest of the day/week/month.
- Rope in a sympathetic colleague. If you don’t enjoy socialising in large groups, focus most of your time talking to one or two people whose company you enjoy most.
If the prospect of being in groups of people leaves you feeling like a bag or nerves (advice based on best research evidence for anxiety):
- Catch your thoughts about the event ahead of it. Are you telling yourself it will be awful and you’ll look/sound ridiculous or worse? Try to redirect your thoughts to what might be enjoyable about the event / who will be there that you like. Turn your thoughts away from what you might imagine other people are thinking of you.
- At the event, focus on what people are saying to you. Ask them about their Xmas plans or other relevant issues. Again, keep your focus on the other person and not what you might imagine they think of you.
- Afterwards, remember the bits you enjoyed rather than focusing on anything you believe you may have done / not done wrong.
- Do not avoid events because they may make you nervous or anxious. Avoidance is what keeps anxiety going and makes it worse.
If you tend to get up to drunken/embarrassing antics:
- First aim for prevention. Decide a sensible limit in advance for alcohol intake and stick to it. Try to avoid drinking alcohol (especially in excess) on an empty stomach.
- If it’s too late and you’ve already done it, your best bet is probably to try and ride out the storm. So long as you didn’t do anything that might be a disciplinary offence or worse (like attacking someone), just accept that colleagues are bound to want to tease you a bit. The best plan is probably a mild reaction like “Yes I did go a bit OTT but we all had a laugh didn’t we?” With a bit of luck, workmates will quickly get bored of the topic.
Enjoy the party!