It’s that time of year.
The time when we can finally breathe. The time when we can rest. The time when we turn inward.
When my husband John and I were considering a u-pick farm back in the fall of 2016, one of our biggest concerns was how I (Lori), a hard-core Introvert, would be able to handle to constant stream of visitors, the demands of always being “on”.
When your place of business is also your home, any concept or notion of “privacy” or “personal space” or “down time” is thrown out the window.
In true Introvert form, being around people has a draining effect on me. Don’t get me wrong - I LOVE being with people, meeting new faces, making connections! My work brings me so much joy and I truly look forward to our U-Pick days, when I get to meet and greet customers, new and old.
However, I must be VERY intentional about creating time and space afterward to “recharge my batteries” so I don’t burn out and fall to pieces. For example, on mid-summer Saturday afternoons/evenings, after grueling week, you’ll likely find me here:
I need that time and silence as much as the air I breathe. I need a time to refresh and renew (by myself!), after being around groups of people for hours on end.
Maybe you feel the same way. After all, according to Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” (an EXCELLENT read, by the way! I highly recommend it!), at least 50% of the world’s population identifies themselves as Introverts.
Hint: Here is a simple test to determine if you are Extroverted or Introverted. Of course, there are many different factors or situations, but it’s pretty straight forward.
Extroverts: Gain energy from being around other people.
Introverts: Lose energy from being around other people.
In order to balance months of constantly being surrounded by people, we find it vital to have the quiet winter months where we can replenish our energy and build up our “reserves” to do it again next season. We call it our “Hibernation Period”.
How to Survive the Holidays as an Introvert
As we approach the holidays, we Introverts start to panic a bit.
It’s not that we don’t enjoy being around our family!
It’s simply that social situation drain our limited energy. The constant parties and gatherings, on top of an already busy schedule, can easily push us past our breaking point…. causing stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
I clearly remember one Christmas when our children were very young. We had 5 separate parties/gathering to attend in less than 48 hours. Of course, we went to all of them because we were young ourselves and didn’t know how to say “No” and didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
There was no joy that Christmas. Just exhaustion, stress and crying (mostly me, but the kids were crying too).
Since that year, we’ve worked hard to create healthy boundaries around the holidays, so it can truly be a time of joy and peace.
Even if you are not an Introvert, chance are someone in your family IS, so respecting their needs and limitations is a true gift to them.
Here are a few strategies that can help!
Healthy Holidays for Introverts
Know Thyself: Hey, go easy on yourself! There is nothing “wrong” with you. Remember, 50% of people feel the same way you do - they just aren’t talking about it, because the extroverts are ruling the conversations. ;) Ha! Now, don’t use your Introversion as an excuse to sit there like a stick in the mud. You can CERTAINLY learn skills to help you enjoy social situations more… and you might even find yourself looking forward to them! But please… be kind to yourself (and your fellow Introverts!).
Keep your hands busy: This is a great trick to keep you calm and collected. Offer to help your host/hostess. Be in charge of kitchen duty. Be in charge of serving. Give yourself a role to stay relaxed. You’ll find that conversation comes more easily and naturally when your hands are busy, instead of sitting around awkwardly. Our family loves to work on puzzles during parties/gatherings. I know - it sounds weird, but it’s become a tradition that everyone looks forward to… and you’ll find all the introverts gathered around the puzzles chatting happily!
Minimize stimuli: Many Introverts are more sensitive to stimuli that extroverts. Some may even fit into the category of HSP’s (Highly Sensitive Persons). Bright lights, loud noises, crowds… all of these can be a nightmare for Introverts. Try to find a quieter, less stimulating place at the party. Move to a different room. Hide in the bathroom for a few minutes to regroup, if needed. Recognize the very real effects of this stimuli, such as: buzzing in ears, increased heart rate, eye twitches, desire to get up and move, feeling as though your brain can’t absorb anything else… which leads us to our next strategy…
Have an escape plan: People, if you have kids that need to go to bed or babies that need to nap, use that as your escape plan! Or maybe you have dog that “needs” to be let outside and you need to go home because of that. It’s wise to discuss what time you want to leave with your loved ones, so you know there is an end in sight. Maybe you just go for a short walk or “breather” if you can’t leave quite yet…
Practice self care: During the holidays, it’s important to take care of yourself so YOU can be at your best. Prepare yourself. Get enough sleep. Limit alcohol, sugar and caffeine. Make time for exercise or take a walk (by yourself, ideally!).
Come prepared: When you are attending a gather that you KNOW will mentally exhaust you (like your spouse’s work party or a party where you don’t know many people), it’s helpful to come prepared with some good open ended questions that will mitigate the awkwardness and get other people to do the talking. ;) Questions such as “What do you like to do in your free time?” or “ How did you meet ______ (the host/hostess of the party)?” or “Tell me about your family!”
Find Your Safe Person: Remember, 50% of people feel the same way you do. I bet you can find someone to connect with and you’ll probably even enjoy it! Just look for another quiet, lost looking person, sit down beside them, steel your courage and start making conversation (using one of the questions above). Some of the best conversations of my life have started this way!
There. Are you feeling better already? I am! After employing these strategies the past few years, I can honestly say that I look forward to holiday gatherings… and I also look forward to my time of “recharging” afterward. ;)
Try out one or two of these strategies this holiday season and let me know how it worked!
Now, I’d love it if you’d tell me: How do you handle the holidays as an introvert? Do you have any words of wisdom to share?
Thanks in advance!