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“So, what are your plans for Christmas?”
When posed by a family member, this question used to send me into an anxiety spiral: mind blank, armpits sweating through my shirt, and a hot blush creeping up my neck and flushing my face.
Why would this question cause such an initially negative reaction in me?
For this introvert, the holiday season can be a challenging time.
It usually means a jam-packed social calendar filled with to-dos, familial obligations, and unnecessary amounts of repetitive small talk (an introvert’s least favorite form of conversation).
As many introverts have experienced, an overbooked schedule is a direct route to burnout. Wherever we may fall within the spectrum of personality types, from hermit to social butterfly, certainly we’ve felt the pressures and stress that can accumulate during this time of year.
Whether it’s the pressure to get everyone on our list the perfect gift, or it’s just the “busyness” that gets us, we can all relate in some way.
So, what can we do to avoid the inevitable breaking point of an overbooked, people-pleasing introvert?
Here are three tips that can help the most introverted individual still enjoy their social festivities:
1. Be Proactive: Planning may or may not be your forte, but regardless, proactively planning your holiday gatherings and to-dos can drastically reduce stress.
Whatever it is that seems to trigger your stress levels the most (gift shopping, how to fit in all the events), be sure to plan ahead. For example, when you schedule your social engagements in advance, you have the opportunity to space them out. Especially for introverts, this is a key strategy to allow yourself that “recharge time” before the next outing. Having back-to-back social engagements is a surefire way to burnout fast.
2. Say No: This may be difficult for the people-pleasers out there (raises hand), but it is essential to have healthy boundaries.
There are a number of different reasons why you may want to respectfully decline certain invitations, but the ultimate goal is to not overbook yourself. This is key for the introverts!
Perhaps you have some toxic relationships with immediate relatives that require you to keep your distance. If you and your spouse both have divorced parents, it soon becomes impossible to accept all holiday invites. Be sure to complete step one and proactively schedule the time with the people you cherish most. That way, you can build other events and to-dos around these.
You may be thinking right now, “But what if I disappoint or offend someone by declining?!” So what? Their feelings are not your responsibility. You cannot make everyone happy, and to think you can or to try is unhealthy and unrealistic.
3. Self-Care: In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, self-care is usually the first thing to fall by the wayside.
Purposefully schedule your “me time” in between all of your calendar events and errands. Whether it’s reading a book, a hot bath, or playing your new favorite video game, allowing yourself this time is paramount to recharge those batteries! This means that if you have to say no to an invite so that you can take care of yourself, do it.
Filling your needs this way can significantly reduce stress, not only during the most wonderful time of year, but throughout the remaining months of the year as well.
Putting these tips into action myself has shifted my perspective so that I no longer have a minor panic attack when someone asks what my Christmas plans are. Simply being proactive, saying no when needed, and exercising self-care has alleviated much of my stress and perhaps it can do the same for you!