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Stressed out? Millennials report social anxiety is making them dread holiday parties



Instead of being an opportunity to blow off steam, for many, holiday parties are another source of stress.

You might notice friends or co-workers on their phones scrolling through Facebook at the holiday parties you attend this season. Or, there may be those who choose to spend the majority of the night with a drink (or a cookie) in hand while socializing.

A new survey from Joyable, an online program that offers coaching to overcome anxiety, found that 70 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 reported experiencing social anxiety — which is far higher than any other age group.

And almost half of that group said holiday parties stress them out.

“The 45 percent of millennials for whom holiday social events are a source of stress often depend on their smartphones or social media (51 percent) to make it through holiday celebrations,” said a press release about the survey.

The survey also found that people who experience social anxiety are more likely to use food or alcohol to help them get through parties.

Joyable CEO Pete Shalek said increased social anxiety is not exclusively a millennial problem, however millennials “bear the brunt of it” due to increased use of technology.

When it comes to social interactions, he said many millennials are simply out of practice.

“The challenge is that technology allows us to avoid certain interactions, making things that once felt natural feel increasingly uncomfortable,” Shalek said. “For example, a number of our clients report anxiety when they have to make phone calls. When phone calls were required on a daily basis — to connect with friends, make appointments, or order pizza — they were less daunting to most.”

Another reason millennials are uncomfortable? Social media breeds feelings of inadequacy.

“For most, social media platforms like Facebook capture the happy moments in peoples’ lives. As a result, the world we see online is an idealized version; most often, we don’t see the difficulties people experience. The result is that people increasingly hold themselves to unrealistic expectations with social interactions. When they have a terse or awkward interaction with someone, they don’t realize that’s normal in day-to-day life.”

Although the survey found social anxiety is most common among 18- to 29-year-olds, the symptoms aren’t limited to just millennials. The Joyable survey found that 54 percent of Americans overall reported experiencing social anxiety.

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