The holidays can be tough and overwhelming for many people, but especially introverts. As an introvert myself, I've included a few tips for managing the holiday season for my fellow introverts out there.
At the party
My self-care goal this year is to listen to my body's needs during parties and watch my breathing. I start by doing a brief meditation before leaving my house to get connected to my breath and body. I use the InsightTimer meditation app because it’s free and you can choose the amount of time and type of meditation you want to do. There are often mental, emotional and physical signs that you need a break. A warning sign for me is when my shoulders start creeping towards my ears or feel tight, and I’m not as present when talking to others.
I recently went to a holiday party where an introverted host had a quiet room. First of all, I love this idea! Second, I was surprised to see that many people used the room to get away from the hustle and bustle of the party. I went in the room to meditate for 10 minutes and used the room again later to stretch and look at all of the amazing books the host owned on her book shelf. I felt refreshed and more present when I rejoined the party. Even if there isn't a quiet room, you can be creative with other recharging ideas. Some people will leave the party and go for a walk, or some people will go to the bathroom to breathe, do a quick body scan, or just to get away from the crowd for a moment.
It's also okay to plan your escape route. I find I usually have a 2-3 hour social window and then I start to feel drained. Say your goodbyes early and leave the party when you feel ready. Plan what you'll say to the host as your goodbye line before the party and give yourself permission to duck out early.
“No matter what you do, please invite some kindness into your journey.”
After the party
There's a great term I've seen floating around the internet called an Introvert Hangover. After spending a lot of time socializing, you may notice that you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and anxious. Your brain may feel fuzzy. It may be a sign that you are needing self-care and time to recharge. Some ideas for self care include:
- Reserve a day to recharge. For example, if you have something on Friday and Saturday night, Sunday may need to be a day to recharge.
- Take a nap between social events.
- Push off all non-essential appointments, chores, or social events to January.
- Plan ahead. Look at your calendar before the holidays and note any expected holiday gatherings. It will give you a realistic idea of what to expect and you can intentionally schedule time for self care and be realistic about the events you can attend.
- Take breaks. Ask yourself: How am I doing right now? Take a breath. Drink tea. Listen to music.
Open space in your calendar
Leave time in your calendar for rest, play and self-care. It can be helpful to honor these breaks by actually blocking off the time in your calendar.
Be selective about the holiday parties you want to go to. Each holiday, I find there can be an overwhelming amount of invitations. Whether it's 3 or 10 invitations, you may feel overwhelmed. Contemplate how many holiday events you can attend. Some people can only have one event on the weekend or may need to have a rest day in between events. Explore which social events you want to prioritize and if there are certain family members or friends you want to make sure you carve out time for or you want to avoid.
Practice watching the "shoulds":
- We should be social
- We should spend time with certain people
- We should be chatty and outgoing
- We should attend all parties we're invited to.
There is no right way to do things! You're allowed to put more of an effort into connecting with the people that are meaningful to you. You're allowed to be quiet. You're allowed to need space. You're allowed to have boundaries.
Learn to communicate your needs
From reading articles online and talking to other introverted people, as well as from my own experience, it helps to have language to communicate your needs to people. One of my favourites, for example, is "It's not personal if I'm saying no. I am introverted and I have been out socializing a lot and need time to recharge."
Permission to go slow
This one is tough in a society that moves quickly, has high expectations, and experiences constant FOMO (fear of missing out). It's important to be kind to yourself and honor your own pace. We are still worthy human beings when we don't attend all social functions and prefer small groups over large. I love Brene Brown's quote from the Gifts of Imperfection: "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough". This is a hard time and you may be trying to just get through. No matter what you do, please invite some kindness into your journey.
A lot of these tools can be challenging to enact. They may involve practicing more direct communication and setting boundaries. When you're practicing some of these tools, it can be helpful to have the support of a friend, family member or a therapist.