I’m an introvert and an idealist. That means that I love the holiday season and the idea of holiday gatherings. I often want to attend them, but once there, find myself overstimulated and frazzled. I’ve learned how to avoid melting down and ruining all of my holiday celebrations by using a few hacks to keep myself in check.
- I prioritize. Work parties and extended family and friends are my secondary, and I only attend if I am sincerely excited to do so, otherwise I simply decline. My immediate family gatherings always take priority.
- I have social anxiety as well, so I often find it easier to attend and enjoy a holiday gathering if I connect with a friend or two ahead of time who will be there as well. If I know my friend is planning to arrive at 6:30, I will plan to arrive 10-15 minutes later so that I can hook right up with them.
- Prepare by relaxing at home as much as possible in advance, and planning alone time afterward. If I have to work all week, head to the store, and go play soccer mom the next morning, I will be toast. If I’m going to enjoy interacting in a group, I need to sandwich the outing between two less intense days (or more).
- One of my introvert superpowers is discovering something about people that will get them talking, which takes the social pressure off of myself. If I can ask a couple of questions and get another person into storytelling mode, I’m off the hook for small talk, and often enjoy the interaction.
- Ask the host if there’s a quiet room where you can make a phone call. You don’t even have to actually make a call, but knowing where there’s a room that you can catch your breath will make an outing more manageable. If all else fails step outside for some air or make liberal use of the restroom. I also offer to help with food prep and cleanup. If my offer is accepted, I can steer clear of the hullabaloo and get lost in my head for a few enjoyable minutes.
- Work the perimeter. Most extroverts prefer the middle of the room, with us quieter folks staying along the edges. If there’s someone sitting quietly on the couch you can join them in silence or for a more intimate conversation.
- But really, you simply don’t have to do more than what makes you happy. Holidays are stressful enough as it is, take care of yourself and avoid overextending to the point that you’re completely frazzled. Part of self care is knowing who you are and when enough is enough.
The holiday season is the culmination of everything that takes us introverts right to the edge. Nobody can keep you in balance except you, so do what it takes to get through the holidays with your emotional and mental health intact.
Follow Alethea at Ben’s Writing, Running Mom.