Ah, the holiday season is upon us. The holidays can be a time of great hustle and bustle as everyone prepares for many of the things that come with this time of year including shopping, traveling, invitations for gatherings, holiday office parties (with endless small talk), preparing for visitors, and the increased expectation of being around people.
The fast-paced nature of this time of year can feel overwhelming for many, but especially for introverts who thrive off time alone to recharge. The demand for constant togetherness can put a strain on well-being, as well as relationships with people who may not understand the introvert’s needs.
While there are many definitions of what an introvert is and is not, one theme remains constant -Introverts are people who replenish their energy by spending time alone. Introversion is not to be confused with shyness or social anxiety (although these things can co-occur), but it is more so focused on how people feel the most energized.
Introversion, like many other personality traits, lies on a spectrum that includes different attitudes and behaviors with the common theme of turning inward for replenishment.
I consider myself an introvert, and I enjoy spending time with loved ones during this time of year. I have my own tips and tricks of how I try and navigate the season in a way that considers my needs and well-being. Here are some tips that I like to use to survive the holiday season.
4 Ways to Survive the Holiday Season As An Introvert
1) Set Clear Boundaries with Friends and Family
The holidays are a time when many people are expected to be together. It is important to communicate your unique needs to the people in your life so you can take care of yourself. Lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and avoidable conflict, so share your needs with loved ones so everyone is on the same page.
Setting boundaries may look like:
- Informing loved ones that you may need some time alone after events or sharing that you need time alone for a while is not avoidance, but time to recharge.
- Staying at a nearby hotel (if feasible) if you know staying with others is overwhelming.
- Not staying for an entire event but attending for a pre-determined amount of time.
- Informing loved ones that you cannot attend every event planned.
- Saying no to obligations or events that will negatively impact your mental, financial, or physical well-being.
2) Decide What Events You Will Attend Ahead of Time
Your social calendar might be more demanding than usual this time of year, so try to make sure you don’t overcommit yourself. Consider which events you will and will not attend so you are clear on how much energy you’ll need to be able to have a good time.
For example, if you receive 10 event invitations, perhaps choose to attend a few events that are meaningful to you and say no to the others. Introverts often need time to recover from social experiences, so consider taking the day after the big office holiday party to yourself to relax in ways that help you recharge.
3) Be Aware of Your Personal Cues
When you are out in the world socializing, keep track of how you are feeling by checking in with yourself. Notice if you are feeling tense, overwhelmed, or overstimulated.
Personally, I know that once I start tripping over my words and feeling spacy, I know it’s time for a break to go collect myself and recharge on my own. I also know that if I have an event I plan to attend in the evening, I try to make sure I catch a nap so that I can feel refreshed and ready to interact with others.
Figuring out these signs for yourself can help you be proactive in taking care of yourself. I’d also suggest creating cues for you and whoever you plan to attend events with ahead of time.
You can create some type of non-verbal signal or phrase that indicates your social meter is running out and you need to either step away or leave the event. Having these signals ahead of time can help you leave when you need to versus feeling completely drained.
4) Show Up In Ways That Feel True For You
If you know being in the center of the holiday party chatting it up with everyone is your personal nightmare, find ways to be present that are still meaningful to you. You can offer to help set up/clean up, take on a designated role at the gathering, or show up after the party has started.
There are a few examples of ways that you can still interact, but maybe not feel as overwhelmed by social expectations. If someone is asking you to do something that you know would be draining for you, offer alternatives that can still create meaningful time and memories.
For example, if your friend wants you brave the last-minute crowds to go shopping at multiple stores with them on Christmas Eve, you could offer to have them come over to your place for refreshments after they have finished shopping instead.
The holidays can be a demanding time for us introverts, but with these tools, I think we can make it! I’d love to hear your ways of surviving the holiday season down below!
And, as always, visit Psych Bytes for more practical psychology and mental health tips to enhance your life and the lives of those you love.