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Holiday Survival Tips for the Introvert

holiday survival tips for the introvert

For most of us, the words to the popular Christmas carol “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” sum up pretty accurately how we feel about the the holiday season:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you
be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

But for some of us, we would rather the words read something like this:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the fireplace glowing while everyone’s going
and leaving you there
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With one intimate party and most days you hardly
Go outside at all
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

If my version of that song resonates with you more than the original, you’re probably an introvert. And the Christmas season, while being enjoyable, can also be a challenge. You want to see family and friends and attend all the gatherings and celebrations, but you find yourself becoming too emotionally drained and socially maxed-out to actually enjoy them. Friends become frustrating, family members feel burdensome, and you find yourself turning into the Grinch. And that definitely is not what Christmas is all about.

Holiday Survival Tips for the Introvert

But don’t despair, it is possible for an introvert to enjoy the holidays. You may just need to plan things out more carefully than your extroverted counterparts. With the right balance of social and solitary time, the month of December can be that wonderful time of the year that the Christmas carols boast.

Pay close attention to your calendar.

You RSVP “yes” to a Facebook event, make plans with a friend, and schedule a family gathering. Then you go to write these events down in your calendar and realize you’ve booked yourself three consecutive nights in a row. Has this ever happened to you? This happens to me all the time. I think I can remember my schedule, so I make plans without looking at my calendar. Before I know it, my schedule is packed and I’m crabby.

Record events as soon as you know about them. Try to space things out as much as possible. If plans are being discussed and you don’t have your calendar on hand, it’s OK to say, “I’ll have to get back to you about that.”

Be intentional about which social gatherings you attend.

During busy times of the year, like Christmas, there is just so much going on in our social circles. Everyone will have to say “no” to some things, and the introvert may need to say “no” more than the extrovert. Spend some time thinking about who you really want to see during the holidays. What relationships are worth investing in during the busy season? Which gatherings will provide meaningful conversation, and which will simply be a lot of small talk with people you don’t really know? These are all things to take into account when planning your social calendar.

Say “no” to FOMO.

Fear Of Missing Out is a real thing, and if you’re not careful, it can lead you down a path of stretching yourself too thin.

When my husband and I were first married, we didn’t want to miss out on any of our family’s Christmas traditions. We live in the same city as both of our families, so it’s possible for us to go back and forth between the two in a matter of minutes. On Christmas Eve, we would go to church with my family and have dinner with them, then go to Mass with my husband’s family and be with them for presents until the wee small hours of Christmas morning. On Christmas morning, we would spend about two minutes at our house exchanging gifts with each other before hurrying off to my parents house for stockings. We’d have a midday meal with my family, and then we would go back to my husband’s family for dinner.

We were so busy getting in on all the traditions we had each grown up with that we hardly had time to catch our breath, not to mention having time to forge our own traditions. Our house was beautifully decorated for Christmas, but we were never there to enjoy it. It wasn’t until our first child was born that we realized we could not keep up with it all. We decided, instead of going to church with both of our families, we wouldn’t go with either. We would just go to Mass at our own parish on Christmas Eve. It gave us the amount of breathing room we needed, and it allowed us to have some meaningful time with just our little family.

Make the most of your downtime.

If your downtime is limited, be sure to make it count. There are some solo activities that leave me feeling recharged and others that don’t fill me up. A prime example of something that does not leave me feeling recharged is scrolling through my social media feeds. I usually end up feeling frustrated with myself for not having used that time to do something more productive or meaningful. Social media can also contribute to FOMO, which, as we already discussed, can be disastrous for the introvert during the holidays.

So when you finally get an hour to yourself, do the thing that makes you feel the most recharged. For me, it is knitting, journaling, or reading a book. If I’m really maxed-out, it’s closing my eyes and taking an actual nap.

If you’re staying with family over Christmas…

So what if you don’t have the freedom of being in your own home for Christmas? Being someone else’s house guest can be incredibly draining for the introvert. But there are still ways to recharge alone. Offer to do the more solitary chores like grocery shopping, walking the dog, or rocking the baby down for a nap. Suggest watching a good Christmas movie, which allows for a break from conversation. There is nothing wrong with going to bed before everyone else. Remember, there will be plenty of time to visit tomorrow.

Don’t forget to recharge spiritually.

It is always important to have a life that is rooted in prayer, and it is all the more important when life is chaotic. Find a time that works for you to be silent, to reflect on Scripture, and to pray. And do it everyday. It will benefit your mental well-being as much as your spiritual well-being.

Quietness and introspection are incredibly energizing for the introvert. So what better way to be introspective this holiday season than to ponder, in silence, all it’s beautiful mysteries: the virgin birth, the Incarnation of Our Lord, and the gift of salvation that He brings?

Are you an introvert? How do you cope well with the busy Christmas season?

Anna Coyne is a Minnesota native, wife, mother, and convert to the Catholic faith. When not chasing after her two young children, she is probably making pour-over coffee, knitting, gardening, playing the piano, or sipping on a glass of red wine. Find out more about her here.

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