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Introvert ME: Feeling the Holiday Stress?

As the holidays are approaching, it can be a stressful time for introverts. Just thinking about the friends and family gatherings, holiday work parties, the crowds during both holiday and grocery shopping, traffic, etc. can be overwhelming and it can be a feeling that is dreaded before the holidays begin. Even if you’re not an introvert, it can be stressful to think about when it comes to planning and preparing so imagine the mind of an introvert. Here are a few tips to help yourself during the holiday season.

Try not to decline an invitation right off the bat. It is less stressful to attend a party or gathering when you aren’t the one planning it. I’m sure you will be concerned or anxious about it being a huge crowd, but it may turn out to be a light crowd of just close family or friends. Don’t feel obligated to stay the whole time if you start to feel anxious and overwhelmed.

Managing your times and activities. With all the holiday events just around the corner, it is a great idea for you to manage the gatherings and events you will be attending and the time that you’re going to keep to yourself. As a reminder, if you get an invitation to attend a gathering and you do not want to go, please decline the invitation in a nice way so it doesn’t seem you just want to avoid it all together. As mentioned in the previous blog, do not feel obligated to say yes and don’t be embarrassed or guilty if you say no.

Practice conversation starters. Attending events is a great place to meet new people so why not engage in conversation. Starting a conversation with someone or a group of people can be a great distraction for your mind to help you not think about your surroundings. When you are engaging in conversation, you will be surprised at how fast time will pass. Practicing or thinking about conversation starters is an excellent way to stay in control.

Go grocery and holiday shopping earlier. We all know that everyone may wait till the week or day of the holiday to get last minute gifts and groceries. If you dislike the huge crowds like me, plan to get the groceries and gifts ahead of time. If you want to stay home instead of going out, online shop and let the packages come to you. When it comes to grocery shopping, curbside has been my best friend! I just order online, pick the time and date, and just drive on over to pick it up without having to get out of my car. That way I can take my time and if it is done early, I will just put it away until it’s time to bring it out.  

Making yourself useful. I was raised to be one a person that will offer to help when I am invited to a gathering. I will ask the host if they need help setting up the table, if they need help cooking or preparing anything, washing dishes or help clearing the table. It is a great way to not only show hospitality, but it is a great way to keep yourself busy and drift yourself away from everyone if you need a few moments to yourself.

Limiting house guests and be aware of who you will be surrounded with. If you are planning to have a gathering at your home, limit the number of guests you invite. For someone who deals with anxiety, imagining many people in your home can be overwhelming. It isn’t about how many can fit into your home, but how many people you can realistically surround yourself with. However, if you do need a breather, just step outside to catch some fresh air or go straight up to your bedroom for a few minutes. Great friends will be extremely understanding in you needing to leave early or needing a breather.

Arriving either late or early can have a great advantage. If you arrive early, you can easily leave earlier, but if you end up having a great time, you can always stay a bit later. If you arrive late, your visit will be shorter since the gathering will end shortly after you arrive. So whichever decision you make, it will still be a win win.

Bring and plan games. Playing games is a great and fun distraction without having to worry about having long conversations with someone.

Taking breaks. Taking mini breaks or meditating for 5 to 10 minutes can make a huge difference because you will be recharging your mind and give yourself that time to reenergize. Take as many breaks as you need and if you need to leave early, don’t be afraid to do so.

Making time for yourself. You can still celebrate the holidays and have the holiday cheer even if you are at home. Make some homemade cookies, put on some cute holiday pajamas, make some hot cocoa with marshmallows or whip cream, turn on your Christmas tree, light a log in the fireplace, and watch a holiday movie. Just add in the fuzzy socks and that is exactly what I am doing this weekend!

Planning intimate gatherings. Planning a holiday gathering yourself doesn’t have to be stressful, extravagant, nor do you have to go all out. Plan it the way that you want it. Keep it light, keep it casual, keep it low key with a few of your close-knit friends. Doing this can still be relaxing without throwing yourself into an overwhelming situation. I personally love close-knit gatherings with just a few friends because not only is it calm and quieter, but it is more intimate.

Just continue being yourself because, again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert and there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is yourself. Jumping out of your comfort zone and rocking around the Christmas tree can be fun and great, but don’t exceed your limits nor push your boundaries. You want to enjoy the holidays each year, not dread it. Please, respect your needs and don’t overwhelm yourself.  

Happy Holidays!

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