How To Feel Calm When Your Family Makes You Socially Anxious

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
It's no secret that family can be stressful, especially around the holidays. But if you're someone with social anxiety, then the marathon of family parties and holiday obligations can feel like one long, terrible performance.
It sounds counterintuitive that your family could be capable of contributing to your social anxiety, because they're supposed to love you unconditionally and all that. However, for certain people, family triggers an especially uncomfortable blend of stress and anxiety. "Social anxiety is really that fear of doing something that would be so bad that you would get kicked out of the tribe in some way," explains Jennifer Shannon, LMFT, co-founder of The Santa Rosa Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and spokesperson for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. And around your nosy aunts and far-flung cousins, you might feel especially unsure of yourself and nervous.
The good news is that the stakes aren't as high as they can seem, and there are strategies and tips that will make every family party around the holidays feel like less of a pressure cooker. Ahead, Shannon explains how to feel calm during the most high-strung holiday parties.