Social Anxiety and the Holiday Season

You may have already heard Christmas music playing in every store and all over the radio. You might have friends or coworkers telling you exactly how many days are left until Christmas, as they could not be more excited about it. We have entered the holiday season in full swing and for people with social anxiety, this could not be a more stressful time of year.

“Social anxiety is (affecting) about 12 percent of the population. Its actually the fourth most common mental health difficulty.” – Judith Laposa, Psychologist at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.[1] Social Anxiety can be defined as a fear of social interactions that require interaction with other people. More specifically, social anxiety refers to a person’s fear of being judged negatively, and it is a pervasive disorder that can impact all areas of a person’s life. Social Anxiety requires treatment such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (which can change the brain) to help people overcome it.[2]

Another misconception regarding this type of anxiety disorder is that people who have a fear of social situations are shy or “anti social”. This is not the case, as many people living with social anxiety can still have very interactive occupations such as being a lawyer or teacher. While psychotherapy is proven to be the most effective method of treatment, there are some small adjustments that can be implemented when confronted with holiday parties or family gatherings. Consuming less alcohol is important to keep in mind, as many believe “loosening up” is a helpful measure when anxious. Using this as a coping strategy can lead to more serious problems. Setting a small goal for yourself to start a conversation with just one person whom you haven’t met is another effective step that can take you out of your comfort zone and have a positive impact on easing fears of social situations.

At The Therapy Centre, our team of experienced and dedicated clinicians work with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to assist clients struggling with social anxiety in addition to other concerns such as panic attacks, phobias and depression. With Master’s level Social Workers as well as Clinical Psychologists on staff, our clinic tailors to various client needs.  With two offices located in Oakville and Hamilton, our services extend to individuals living in Peel Region, Toronto, Halton Hills, Guelph and the Greater Niagara Region.


[1] Cuttler, Marcy, (2017, December 28). Social anxiety sufferers find ways to cope during the season of parties. Retrieved from Accessed 2018, November 24.

[2] Richards, Thomas A, Ph.D., Psychologist. (n.d). Social Anxiety Fact Sheet: What is Social Anxiety Disorder? Symtoms, Treatment, Prevalence, Medications, Insight, Prognosis. Retrieved from: Accessed 2018, November 24.

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