The holiday season bustles with activity. Gift-shopping, decorating, to-do lists, cooking, baking, hosting and attending social events make this is the most active time of year for many. If you’re an introvert who craves peace and quiet and tends to be emotionally sensitive, you may find all of this overwhelming. Below, find a list of holiday headaches that stress out introverts, and some tips on how to put back the peace, love and joy in Christmas time.
Holiday Stress Factor 1: Shopping = sensory overload = stress.
Introverts tend to be overwhelmed by too much sensory input. Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and joy. Yet these sentiments are often forgotten in the chaos of the shopping season.
Head to the mall or a big city with lots of stores, and you might find your senses assaulted with Christmas overkill – too much music, too many blinking lights. Competing TV ads play in stores, and crowds of noisy people hurry past. And let’s not forget traffic woes – delays on the roadways, accidents, sirens blaring, honking horns. All of this means stressed out feelings for introverts, who crave peace and quiet more than most.
How to cope if you’re an introvert:
The best way to not feel overwhelmed and overstimulated at Christmas is to avoid retail parks, big cities and of course, crowded events. Online shopping is an excellent option if you prefer to avoid stressful traffic situations and don’t care for crowds. If you do plan to catch the cyber sales while avoiding physical stores this year, just be sure to get a head start early – or you could be looking at some stressful situations related to mail-order gift delays, lost packages and such.
Another, even more introvert-friendly option is to give homemade gifts from the heart. Photo collages, hand-knit scarves, home-baked spice breads, and other items you make with your hands will likely be well received by friends and family. Taking the time to work on a handcrafted gift can also give you the peace and quiet you need to relax and unwind after a busy day.
Holiday Stress Factor 2: Big parties, big personalities.
Did you know that while extroverts typically feel happy and satisfied after a lively social event, introverted people feel drained and tired, or stressed and emotional? As an easily overwhelmed introvert, you may find yourself faced with big, loud, clashing personalities at Christmas time. Relatives with whom you prefer to maintain minimal contact typically surface at this time of year. Being in their presence can leave you feeling depleted.
Introverts also tend to mentally process things in greater detail than the average person. You may come home after a “fun” holiday party with the weight of the world on your shoulders as you mull over things like what people really meant by what they said, what emotions they were having, and how you fit into it all.
How to cope as an introvert:
One fun way to clear your mind after a too-lively holiday party is to journal it after you get home. Writing is great therapy for sensitive people, and if you’re an introvert you may already be a writer anyway. So make a fun exercise of analyzing the different personalities and conversations that played out at the party. You can put a humorous spin on it, you can employ sarcasm, or you can just ponder on paper what each person’s inner thoughts might have been.
Also, tipsy party guests say and do funny things (or not-so-funny things that we laugh about later) – so write down what you heard and saw, and don’t forget to find the humour! Just be sure to leave out names, shred any incriminating evidence or offensive portrayals, or keep it anonymous if, for instance, you write in a blog online.
Holiday Stress Factor 3: Social anxiety.
Some people may see introverted people as anti-social, but in fact, the opposite is typically the case. Introverts are not satisfied with surface chit-chat the way that many extroverts can be. Rather than talking about the weather, or always saying everything’s going great when maybe it isn’t, they seek deep connections and meaningful exchanges.
Another obvious problem for introverts is that they hesitate in social situations. Shyness can have an introvert wondering, “When is it my turn to talk? What if people think my story is weird or boring?” Because of this social anxiety, they may miss their chance to connect with others, which is what they really desire in the first place.
How to cope as an introvert:
If you feel unsatisfied while mingling at a party, ask yourself why and how you can deepen your connections while interacting. One skill introverted people seem to innately have is the ability to listen and observe. So while the more gregarious and outgoing partygoer might have spent the entire time storytelling, the quiet and pensive introvert might get more out of it by paying attention to others, including more subtle cues such as body language and facial expressions.
With this in mind, if you’re introverted but feel self-conscious at being in the social spotlight, you can warm up by asking other people questions. You might also seek out that other, shy introvert who is hovering on the sidelines and gently strike up a conversation with them.
Finally, make time to be with your tribe this holiday season. You likely have a few special friends with whom you have a soul connection. Being in the presence of these gentle souls lifts and support your spirit rather than crushes it. So if you can, ditch the big bash, and instead host that small, cosy gathering with your special people!
Holiday Stress Factor 4: Not Enough Time to Do It All
At Christmas, there never seems to be enough time to fit in all that you have to do. Married people and singles alike will find themselves busy from the early hours of the morning to nearly midnight, as they attempt to juggle all the oughts and shoulds of the holiday season.
If someone catches wind of an open day on your calendar, they quickly swoop in with plans. People also tend to be impulsive and excessive at this time of year. So a friend of yours might catch the giving fever, and next thing you know, you’re involved in a charitable effort that, while a noble idea indeed, is something you didn’t really have time for in the first place.
How to cope as an introvert:
Self-care and me-time is essential for an introvert to maintain their wellbeing – particularly if you’re a parent of tweens and teens! If you’re stressed, you’re more likely to wear yourself down physically and become susceptible to colds and flu – which is the last thing anyone needs during the holidays, introvert or not. So if you’re a quiet, sensitive and easily overwhelmed individual who does not thrive in chaos, then you’ll want to pencil in that downtime right on the calendar right along with the celebrating, shopping, visiting and sightseeing.
Also keep in mind that all the big plans everyone tends to make in December don’t have to die after New Year’s Day. So if someone suggests that you do something outside the realm of possibility this holiday season, remind them that the next two months of dreary winter leave tons of room for ideas to develop and bloom.
More tips for introverts looking to avoid stress at holiday time:
Always drive your own vehicle to parties. This way, if you start to feel socially overwhelmed or drained, you can make a polite yet swift solo exit without feeling like you’re cutting short someone else’s good time.
Try to reserve one “day of rest.” This doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything on, say, a Sunday in December. But making the conscious effort to leave a day open for whatever, can give you the freedom your introvert soul needs to go with your inner flow.
Self-care themed gifts are welcomed at this time! Imagine if family and friends started giving you introvert-friendly holiday gifts such as knitting needles and yarn, stationery and pens, paint sets, yoga books, herbal teas, essential oils, soft music, and all the things that quiet people love to make part of their self-care ritual?
If you’d like people to think of peace, quiet and cosy downtime when they think of you, then start by offering these things to others as holiday gifts.