Don't Be Shy This Holiday Season
Health & Fitness|December 2015

If you feel like hiding in the corner at Christmas parties, you’re not alone – but it’s time to come out of your shell...

Jane Murphy

Not relishing the thought of making small-talk with people you barely know at Christmas parties? That’s perfectly understandable. We all suffer from shyness to some degree – but for many, the default response is to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. You know the drill? You feel a little uncomfortable at first, but then you find some common ground and start to relax – and your shyness gradually fades.

That’s the ideal scenario. But for some people, the fear of social situations or being in the spotlight takes more of a hold, and can seriously affect their health and happiness. This is known as social anxiety. US social psychologist Dr Signe Dayhoff (effectivenessplus.com) explains the difference between the two.

‘Shy people feel anxious but check rationally to see how others around them are reacting to the situation. If other people’s behaviour doesn’t support their fears, a shy person will stop these thoughts as they have no basis in fact. But when socially anxious people check out the situation, they irrationally look specifically for negative cues to support their unhelpful thoughts,’ she says.

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