Being an introvert during the holidays can be a challenge.
Participating in all the family festivities can be a lot of fun, but it can also be draining for an introvert. Introverts generally get energy from being alone or from being with just a few people they feel comfortable with. Holiday celebrations are often very full. Even though I am an introvert, I love being with my family. I can also get drained from too much festivity.
The holidays are a difficult time to find time and space alone. Quiet time is the exception and not the rule at my house. I love the holidays. I especially love Christmas, but I can easily find myself exhausted by the end of the day. I’ve found that I enjoy my holidays more if I find ways to keep my soul filled. If I’m able to stay charged throughout our celebration, I’m much better at giving to my family, and they have a better time as well.
My goal is to give to my family through the holidays. I’m so much better at doing this when I follow these five strategies:
1. Remember the difference between available time and available energy
One of my biggest struggles is I confuse my available time with my available energy. When someone wants to fill my time, I feel compelled to go along. If my time is open on the calendar, I have an issue saying “no.”
I’ve realized that my energy does not always match how much time I have available. I may be unscheduled for a block of time, but if I have been busy before and after that block of time I will be completely drained of energy. I’ve learned to look at my schedule as a whole. If I have a very busy day, I make sure that I block off time afterwards to decompress and recharge.
This strategy is especially important during the holidays. We have six different family celebrations or traditions in the month of December. I enjoy them all, but only if I am careful to guard my energy during the season.
2. Create a schedule in advance
Talk with your immediate family members and create a schedule together. Find out their favorite parts of the holiday season and find room in your calendar.
It’s also important to talk about what traditions your family don’t enjoy. Perhaps your children have outgrown certain traditions or are ready for a new one. Talking through the schedule before the holiday season starts, can keep expectations reasonable while making sure important traditions aren’t missed.
3. Spend time alone before the festivities start
Recharging my energy at the beginning of the day helps me to be more available to my family. An effective strategy is to start the celebration a little later in the day so we can have some quiet before the festivities start. I often don’t have control over when a holiday begins, so that means if I want some alone time I have to get up early.
It isn’t always easy for me to get up early. I’m in the parenting season with little children and I am often up a lot in the night. Whenever I am able to accomplish getting up before my children are awake I always enjoy this time to my self but if I can’t get up early because of lack of sleep I try to use other strategies.
Finding time alone can take some adjustment of schedule or expectations but it is worth it.
4. Find recharging moments in the day
Being in close proximity to a group of people can be draining for me in a pretty short amount of time. This is especially true in celebrations with my in-laws. My comfort level is not very high in these situations and there is often a great deal of small talk. One of the traits of my introversion is that I detest small talk. It’s a struggle for me to stay engaged in small talk with other people. When I’m at a party or a gathering with people I haven’t seen in a while I try to take breaks.
My plan of action is to find little moments to escape the crowd. Having small children to take care of can be very handy for finding some moments alone. When I had babies I would find a private place to nurse, change diapers, rock them to sleep, etc. Now with my youngest being a toddler I have to be a little more creative in finding those moments. Sometimes I will take a child for a walk or to our car for a few moments.
When I don’t have children with me I will help with serving or cleaning food or find some other way to help behind the scenes. I always have books with me so if there’s an easy way to read without being rude to our hosts I will take a few minutes to recharge. Sometimes I have to be creative, but when all else fails there’s always going to the bathroom for a few minutes!
5. Leave events before you are completely drained
Leaving any event seems to take a long time. There’s always one more person that needs to say good-bye, coats or purses to gather, or children to find. My children are with me at most holiday events so I have to consider that it will take at least 30 minutes to 1 hour to actually get them all out the door.
Generally, we don’t start the process of leaving until I am at the end of my energy rope. However, I’ve found that all the little extras that come as we are leaving can really push my ability to remain engaged. By starting the leaving process while I still have some energy left, I am able to head home in much better spirits.
It’s always good to remember that once I leave the holiday gathering I’m not done giving to people. I’ll be heading home with four other people that also need my love and attention. I don’t want to shortchange their needs so leaving while I still have energy to give to them is my best solution.
Being an introvert during the holidays can be challenging and rewarding. I love the holidays and I love spending time with my family. By following these guidelines I am able to make sure that I am able to fully engage in all the holiday fun and give my family my attention and love.
What about you? Do you have any strategies for making it through the holidays?