Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Survival Guide for Introverts

If you're an introvert, celebrate the holidays YOUR way! None of that dancing on the table with a lampshade on the head for YOU! The holidays are a stressful time, but especially so for introverts (roughly 10% of the population).

One of the most important things you can know about yourself is whether you're an introvert or extravert, and how to enhance your life according to your natural tendencies.
If you're an introvert, here are some tips for a more enjoyable holiday season.
Allow extra time for sleep, rest, and quiet relaxation so you can recharge. When the world reves up even higher, it will get to you even more than usual.
Nobody has to accept every holiday invitation, in fact it's best to be discriminatory so you don't overdo. If you're an introvert, this applies double for you. It's okay to turn down party invitations!

Get PROACTIVE. If you sense an invitation coming, or if you want to, or must, celebrate with someone, jump the gun (which isn't your style) and channel it YOUR way. Invite someone to a concert, or the ballet. Think "time-limited." If you invite someone to lunch and then a concert, you know when it will begin and end and this eliminates some stress. Not so an Open House! Christmas Eve is also a good time to take your turn having the family over, as it's usually more peaceful, and nobody stays late.

When an introvert must attend a party or family gathering, it's best to plan ahead. Sometimes it works well to work out just before the gathering or take a nap. Whatever refreshes you. Experiment and find out! Then arriving at the party on time and greeting everyone makes your presence known and then you can disappear. It's also good to smile and reassure people you're having a good time, or else they'll become concerned -- since introverts show it different and are often under stress -- so people will be reassured and you won't get any more unwanted attention.
There are little tricks like bringing your camera and appointing yourself the official photographer, or being in charge of the music and spending a lot of time changing CDs. Also, then, the introvert can choose their own style of music.
What to do about the dreaded OFFICE PARTY ? They are really command performances and can be a strain. Volunteer immediately to do a job that requires working alone (such as being in charge of the invitations), or volunteer to sit at the sign-in table, which can take half the night. It allows for the kind of structured socializing that introverts often prefer.

After a party or family-gathering, take a warm bubble bath, or a nice evening walk - something to help you unwind and self-soothe. Your extraverted husband may drive home talking all the way and then plop into bed and start snoring immediately. Not you!

Everyone's entitled -- of course! -- to celebrate the holidays in ways they like. Another option is to save up vacation time and leave town -- a quiet cabin in the mountains with some good books and music and a loved one (or not), or maybe taking a cruise. You don't have to put up lights and frenzy - you can enjoy other people's when you get the urge, and you can shut it down, tune it out, and turn it off. You can choose your own level of stimulation.

Introverts also need to be alert to protect themselves from boundary violations. They are often "ready targets" at parties for loud, aggressive people, simply because they're quiet and often sensitive and considerate. Also for people who are agitated and want to be around a soothing person, or anyone looking for an "audience". Sitting alone in a corner leaves you prey to people you may find annoying and you can get cornered; getting up and moving around and choosing with whom you interact is the proactive way to handle this. Be a moving target!
You can also find ways to busy yourself at a party or gathering that allow you time alone -- helping out in the kitchen, passing hors d'oeuvres, taking out the wrapping paper trash and garbage, taking coats and wraps to the bedroom, or disappearing to the playroom with the children are some options.

Another part of the holidays that's stressful for everyone but may be more so for introverts is when multiple family appearances are required on one day, such as hitting every relative's house on Christmas Day. Best to establish the policy that you're going to do it one year at a time -- this year this house, next year the next.

There are many things introverts can do to help themselves enjoy the holidays more. Get proactive and make decisions early on!

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