How to Survive Holidays as an Introvert
If you can't "people" for longer than a couple of hours at a time...
If answering the question, "What are you up to these days?" from your grandmother one too many times makes you a little crazy...
If your favorite saying is, "One is perfect...two or more is way too many"...
You might be an introvert during the holiday season.
We're in this together, and we will make it out of the holiday season alive, even if we have to skip out on "coffee and conversation" just to keep our sanity.
I love my family. But a chick's got her limits. And I'm betting you do, too, or you wouldn't be here reading this.
So how does an introvert navigate all of the holiday cheer without coming off anti-social?
3 Ways to Survive Holidays as an Introvert
1 | Insist on "me time."
Get your life together and be demanding—just this once, okay? You've probably heard the phrase, "You’ve gotta go after what you want." Well, you have to demand that you get some space and time to yourself. Politely, of course. But this is not the time for people-pleasing.
You can make some space for yourself without being rude about it.
Look for a discreet opportunity for some "me time" and snatch it up.
Take a walk or a short drive.
I've noticed a couple of my family members doing this over the years. Maybe they, too, are just looking for a reason to get away from the chatter of a big family during the holidays or maybe they're trying to burn off some of those holiday snacks (to make room for more, obviously). Whatever the reason, it works.
If you can't get too far by car, you can still find some peace and quiet just by getting outdoors. Take in some fresh air, renew your mind, and try not to kill anyone.
After all, an introvert's time spent by themselves is for everyone's protection.
Offer to help out.
Yeah, holidays are supposed to be relaxing, but with all of the extra people around, there's a lot more work involved to keep things running smoothly. And unfortunately, that work load usually falls on the shoulders of only one person. (Poor Grandma).
There's no reason why only some people should be doing all this work. Instead, it would make a lot more sense if a group shared in the effort. Give your parents or relatives a rest and pitch in. Tell them to go relax and catch up on a conversation with others; you'll clean up the kitchen from a previous meal or straighten up the living area from your teenage cousins' impromptu wrestling match.
This is a good way to ease the pressure off whoever has been shouldering the load of caring for everyone else and also to steal a few quick moments to yourself.
Catch some Zzzz's.
I thought I'd end with the most likely option, because when all else fails...take a nap. I'm pretty sure there's a quippy slogan in there somewhere.
Sometimes the best cure for a long day filled with excess socializing is much-needed down time. No one needs to know your family makes you exhausted.
It can be our little secret.
2 | Buddy up.
You may not be able to find that precious solitude, but you can still de-stress even if you're hanging out with another person. I present: the buddy system.
Find your person and escape the chaos together.
Even though introverts recharge by being alone, most of us do have that one person who is easy to be around, and instead of draining us, they can actually recharge our "relational energy." Seek this person out and maybe get away from all the family-loving-togetherness and escape to a local coffee shop to soak in the ambiance and chill vibes, sip on your favorite latte, and have a quick chat with "your person."
Or that walk I mentioned before? It can still be enjoyable with someone else. Take your favorite cousin along for some quality time. Don't feel pressure to keep a conversation going; talking isn't always necessary. They may have been looking for an opportunity to get away for a little while, too.
Play a game.
And no, before you say it, I'm not talking post-Thanksgiving-meal football. There's no way I'm coordinated enough for that mess.
If you just aren't able to slip away for a quick breather, try a low-energy game for a different way to spend your time. Choose a game that requires only two people—any more than that, and you risk drawing a crowd, which is no good.
Cards and checkers make great choices. Neither game is loud—unless you're very competitive—which is great for introverts, and there's no need to talk very much while playing. These are both good options because they don't necessarily require a lot of thinking. They're games you've played so many times that they can almost be played on "autopilot.”
Even drawing, though technically not a game, is a perfect way to unwind but still be in companionship with another person. Spend an hour in silence, drawing whatever comes to mind, and I can guarantee you'll feel ready to join in the crowd again.
Growing up, my cousins and I would always be together for one of the two major holidays of the year: Thanksgiving. After eating our fill of everything pumpkin flavored and watching way too much t.v., we'd eventually find ourselves pretty bored.
So, out came all the craft supplies. Over the years, we’ve done—and glued—it all. Now, I'm wishing I had pictures of all of our craftiness. They were such fun memories.
Crafting is an easy-going, quiet activity, and one of my favorite things to do to unwind for this very reason.
Before you panic, here me out. I'm not recommending you fight your way through the pure, unadulterated hell that is in-your-face retail shopping during holiday season. What kind of friend would I be if I did that?
I'm talking the only type of shopping that should be done during this time of the year: online.
Okay, so a little back story:
My family has braved the holiday crowds before but decided that really wasn't our scene. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I mean, elbowed someone in the face for the t-shirt. We’re talking Black Friday, after all.
So now, we shop from the safety of our home, like the professionals we are. It's a perfect picture of us sipping coffee and stalking Amazon—in silence.
Was there ever anything more beautiful?
I know you were probably quick to nix this shopping idea, but it's starting to sound a little more appealing, right? I've found it to be the perfect way to get in some quality family time and be "in the mix" without actually needing to interact quite as much.
It’s holiday season. Here’s how to survive it if you’re an introvert.
3 | Get outside your own head.
Sometimes, the worst part about being introverted is that we have a knack for getting caught up in our thoughts, and we let our negative mindset bring us down. So, how do you avoid this? If you find yourself going to a gloomy place, the best way to combat this is to get your thoughts and feelings out in a way that feels most comfortable and helpful to you.
Write down your thoughts.
When you're around a large group of people or have a lot of family together in one place for an extended period of time, all of your relational energy can get used up fast, and it can be overwhelming. If you find that you're overextended, you may want to try journaling.
Often, it's helpful just getting thoughts down on paper; you may even write things down that you didn't know you were thinking or feeling. Some of the best advice I can give you if you decide to journal is to don't think; just write. Even if it's nonsense at first. Even if you feel a little silly doing it.
I know when I write, I feel a lot more clear-headed, and it helps me to separate my emotions from my thoughts and get more clarity on a situation. Use your journaling time to write down anything and everything: random thoughts or goals, wishes, or troubles.
Talk to someone.
If writing isn't your thing, try talking to someone who you're close to and can trust. I know it can be really hard to be vulnerable, but in my experience, it's so worth it.
You deserve to voice how you're feeling, and you deserve to have someone listen to you. It doesn't have to be a serious conversation, unless you want it to be. It can be light-hearted and still leave you feeling refreshed and ready to be sociable again. Sometimes all it takes is a few moments of being understood by someone, someone who hears what you're saying and makes you feel like you matter.
Listen to music.
Music is one of my favorite escapes. There's just something about putting on my favorite song and soaking up all that goodness that leaves me in an extremely happy state of mind.
No matter my mindset, music almost always puts me in a better mood—a mood where I'm nice to other people and say nice things. Isn't that what we all need a little bit more of during the holidays? I know I do.
So whip out that secret playlist you've been hiding.
I get it: exercising is probably the last thing on your mind. You're trying to indulge in #allthefood, and thinking about jogging or push ups is going to totally harsh your vibe.
But I know whenever I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, those exercise endorphins get me feeling good again.
The good thing about exercise is that you can do whatever you want to fit your body's or your mind's needs at the time, and you don't need a lot of space to do it. You can stretch it out, get all bendy in your room or you can go for a short run to get your heart pumping and shake off any negative energy.
I hope you found some of these ideas and tips helpful for you or got some inspiration for your own ways to take time for yourself during this season. I want to also take the time to point out that even though we may look for opportunities to get some peace and quiet, let's remember that the holiday season only comes around once a year. Some of us only see certain family members during the holidays—some even less.
The holidays are for loving on each other, enjoying fun activities, and taking time to remember what's truly important to each of us. When you're seeking out those moments to have to yourself, just remember to be respectful of others when voicing your needs and above all, be kind.
How to Navigate the Holidays without Being Anti-Social
What do you do to survive the holiday season and unwind during busy times of the year?