If you are suffering from depression or social anxiety, your therapist may recommend that you seek out social activities. However, there are times when it is important to say “no” to a social activity invitation. Some people find saying “no” very difficult – they can get anxious or guilty or even irritable when asked to attend an event. If you are in a situation where the healthy solution is to say “no”, here are a few tips to avoid the activity.
- Be sure to RSVP. You may need to avoid the social activity, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid the RSVP. A simple RSVP demonstrates respect for the host. It can also help reduce some anxiety caused by avoiding the invitation. For example: “Thank you so much for inviting me to your birthday party. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend. I hope you have a great birthday!”
- Understand your reasons for avoiding the activity. Sit with your feelings and thoughts about the invitation. If you feel overwhelmed with too many activities, remind yourself that you need time to rest and recharge and it is OK to say “no”. If the activity brings up negative emotions like sadness, guilt, fear, or anger, it may be worth further investigation. Try talking with a trusted neutral friend or a therapist about why this social activity is bringing up so much negative emotion.
- Take a raincheck. If you do not want to attend the activity but you do want to see the host or others at the event, ask for a raincheck and schedule a later activity. For example: “I am so sorry I am not able to attend your birthday party. I would love to get together another time – are you available for lunch next week?”
Live Mentally Healthy,
Dr. Jennie Byrne