Let me set the scene… music thumping, traditional party hits, with some of the people on the dancefloor thinking they look awesome, whilst you try and eat the meal that’s been plonked in front of you. Alcohol is free-flowing, and people are making rather liberal use of the open bar. Loads of people around that you barely say hello to in the kitchen whilst making a coffee are thinking they’re your best friend, whilst you’re still trying to stomach that last roast potato.
Does that sound a bit familiar? I know it does to me.
Let me let you in on a little secret of mine… I hate work Christmas parties! People tend to drink way too much, there’s always a load of drama, and it’s always just such a mess afterwards. But, it’s frowned upon if you don’t go… so I drag myself along for the annual do.
If you’re a bit like me and have been known to be “a bit Grinchy” for Christmas parties, there’s usually a reason behind it… and for me, it’s the fact that I have huge anxieties around large crowds, and around drunk people, who almost without fail are hugely unpredictable, and become an entirely different person. It’s always the people you think you know the best that become like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde!
Over the years, I’ve taught myself some coping mechanisms for getting through these things in one piece (and believe it or not, one of them isn’t to get steaming drunk!) – and I’d like to share this with you, to hopefully help you get through as well.
1. Put your phone down!
I know this seems almost counter-intuitive, as one of my coping mechanisms is to pick up and hide behind my phone. But it actually tends to be the opposite of what you actually need to do. People tend to react negatively when you hide behind something, but if you don’t and you start talking to someone you’re comfortable with, it does tend to make you feel better, and also lets you know that you CAN do this!
2. Take breaks
Socialising is hard work! Just like when you’re at work itself, you’re more than entitled to take a break. Pop to the loos, pop outside, give yourself 5-10 mins of time away from the masses, regroup, and take some long, deep breaths.
3. Set times that you can “allow” yourself to go home
Give yourself something to work towards. It’s much easier to do something if you know that there’s a defined parameter to work in. Set yourself two or three targets – one of them being the earliest acceptable time that you can go, and work up from there. Try your hardest not to leave before that!
4. Avoid alcohol – or take in serious moderation!
Yep, I really did just say that, believe it or not! Alcohol is fun in the moment, but it can trigger so many anxious thoughts, but also it can make your low mood worse. It helps you avoid doing embarrassing things, and keeps you in the right frame of mind to stay focused. Plus, it helps you remember what embarrassing things other people have done!
5. Tell someone that you trust, that you’re not okay
This is possibly one of the harder things to do, but it’s actually one of the most effective. By doing this, you can really have someone in your corner, who can look after you, drag you away from “danger” situations, and potentially act as a blocker from drunk annoying people! Even if they just say “Hey, you doing ok?” every half an hour, I’ve found it makes a huge difference, just to know that someone is there that knows what’s going on in your head.
These are my top five tips – but if you have any more, I’d really love to hear them in the comments below! Remember to keep your eyes peeled for next week’s blog on dealing with being at home with the family.
For now, peace, love and sparks,