Ho, Ho, Ho, here it is — the most extroverted time of the year.
As a self-proclaimed introvert (someone that is re-charged by alone time), you might be surprised not to hear me say “Bah, Humbug.” The holidays are actually one of my favorite times of year. The crisp stillness of winter, the general merry sentiment in the air, and the opportunity to see and remind the important people in your life of how much you love them are just a few things on the top of my list that make the holidays so special.
On a scale of celebrations though, call me old-fashioned but I prefer a simple Silent Night: a good meal with one-on-one conversations followed by a cozy fire, wool blanket, and good book. What makes me want to run over elves with Santa’s sleigh are the Jingle Bell Rock of back-to-back holiday parties and mingling in uncomfortable sequined cardigans.
Nevertheless, social festivities and family get-togethers, not to mention the busyness and stress of closing out the year are inevitable. So what’s a girl to do? Hot cocoa can only get you so far.
A quick internet search of “introverts and holidays” brought up pages upon pages of how to’s for introverts to survive the holidays. But the thought of us introverts having to grin, bear, and persevere the holidays just doesn’t seem fair, does it? After all, our extroverted counterparts are enjoying the parties, or at least seem like they are. Surely, there must be a way for us to enjoy it in our own way?
So, I write this introvert’s guide to enjoying the holidays, mostly as a reminder to myself, a permission of rules to break for my own version of an introvert’s merry and joyous holiday. A great many from this list have been generously shared to me by others over the years, while others I’ve made up. I’m sure there is more to add to the list. Read through them and then please share your own in the comments below.
Avoid being the Social Butterfly
It might be tempting to let go of routines in December in favor of fluttering to one event after another. But when your schedule and to-do’s are an overwhelming length, nothing is more comforting that your daily routines and rituals. Whatever it is that you always do (exercise, yoga, meditation, the 30 minutes of journaling) carve out the space necessary to do so. It’s extra grounding, especially when traveling.
Having a set of non-negotiables is also helpful. For example, I know that I can’t go longer than about 6 consecutive days without have an alone day so I make sure to schedule it into my calendar. I also know that 2-3 events a week is usually the most I can do, so I choose the nights out to commit to and allow myself to decline the others guilt-free. Whatever your non-negotiables are, get to know them and follow them. It’s not about being judgmental. Understanding your capacities is one of the best self-care acts you can do for yourself.
You don’t always have to be merry
Contrary to the image of us dashing through the snow and making proclamations of joy to the world, the holidays can be a time when quite the opposite happens. So first, let’s bust the myth that all of December requires one to be cheerful without a care in the world. It’s an unrealistic ideal that especially stings during the holidays. If you are feeling lonely and sad, don’t dismiss it. Look at the gunk. Dig deeper.
The solution to a blue Christmas for an introvert is not as easy as forcing yourself to accept more invitations. It might be helpful to honestly look at why you don’t want to go out. In some cases it may be that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Do you have a deep seated fear that if people were to get to know you as you are that they might be disappointed? Is it that some part of you still doesn’t feel like you are good enough in some way, shape, or form in a social setting? Whatever it is, accept it, explore it, and get support if needed.
Skip the party
It’s about connecting after all. If the large party doesn’t jive for you, it’s okay. Do an honest gut-check: is it that your couch is too comfortable, or that you really need some alone time? If it’s the former, commit to going with a friend, buying that ticket, or sharing your plans with others.
If its the latter though, get creative with ways to connect outside of the party: have your own intimate holiday gathering, schedule hot chai latte dates, talk on the phone, send a holiday card. Try and find ways that feel comfortable for you to connect with the people you care about. Let your extroverted friends know that you’d rather catch-up with them in a different setting and make a few suggestions.
And if all else fails and you don’t have mutual time in December, do the holidays after the holidays. Plan for something in January when things are less frantic.
You don’t have to always talk
At some point growing up, I was told that being a good conversationalist, required one to be a good listener. Oh, the relief I felt when I heard this! Try to explore similarities and ask open ended questions that get others talking more. It breaks the ice and allows you to get to know the interests of the other person.
The tendency of introverts, at least for me, is a small intimate conversation. The topics don’t have to be intimate, but feeling connected is vital. But bringing the same standards to the large office party or holiday mixer with loud music is unrealistic. Not all conversations have to be life-changing, life-illuminating, and inspiring. Try just listening.
Have a list for your post-party cures
Schedule for post-party energy depletion. If possible schedule the big outing on days that you know you will have the following day off.
It’s hard to imagine now, but when you are drained it’s even hard to think of things that you would usually do to rejuvenate. There is such a thing as quality alone time (versus non-quality, unconscious alone time). So write down the things that really refuel you and keep them handy: taking a solo walk, bathe with your favorite oils, a stack of books you’ve been meaning to read, some affirmations that stop your mind from dwelling on that comment you said or that uncomfortable wall-flower moment. Be gentle with yourself.
Are you an introvert and, if so, how do you manage your energies during the holidays? What are some of your post-party energy cures?
Comment below to share your tips (no itchy lamé holiday dress required). 😉
Photo by State Farm on Flickr