An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Excited children, holiday songs and family conversation: these are the sounds of general wintertime cheer, right? Well, that could depend on if you’re an introvert or extrovert.

While extreme shyness or isolation are stereotypes of introversion, one of the biggest tells of a true introvert actually lies beyond what we can readily see. It turns out there’s actually a difference in the brains of the two personality types.

Extroverts are operating with a lower level of arousal than introverts. In the physiological definition, this means that extroverts need more stimulation to get them to an excited state whereas introverts may find that level of stimuli overwhelming.

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During the holidays, there is certainly an excessive amount of stimuli. From the crowded shopping centers to the seemingly endless supply of merry tunes blasting from every corner, there isn’t a lot of room for introverts to shine. Whether you are an introvert or you are trying to look out for a loved one this holiday season, here are some things to keep in mind.

Be adamant about alone time.

It’s a misleading stereotype to say that introverts don’t enjoying being around other people. Often, they enjoy them just as much as their extroverted counterparts. However, for introverts, it’s essential to balance social time with alone time to unwind and recharge. This is particularly difficult during the holiday season when you may be staying with relatives. Taking a walk around the neighborhood, offering to run a few errands for your host or simply seeking solace in a quiet coffee shop or library are a few ways to escape. It can be hard to let your loved ones know that you need this alone time, but it will allow your personality to fully shine when you are with them.

Spend quality time with family one-on-one rather than in a huge group.

Instead of trying to talk to family members all at once at the dinner table or at large holiday gatherings, try to talk to them one-on-one. The small talk in large gatherings may make you uncomfortable, but talking to loved ones about topics one of you is interested in will enable you to make a better connection. This can be achieved by taking your niece ice skating, taking an aunt out for coffee or offering to treat your parents to dinner. By taking the time for your family in your own way, they get to enjoy your company and you get to enjoy an environment that suits you.

Utilize your strengths to offer help to others.

Does your mom or sister need help wrapping gifts? Does your dad need help putting up decorations? There are certain unglamorous tasks that may be required around the holidays. While others may not jump at the chance to spend hours alone in a room with no one but wrapping paper for company, this may be a chance for a small escape. After all, you may be needed for peacekeeping as well.

Be realistic about social engagements.

It can be hard to say no to friends and family when it comes to their parties and plans. Having a packed schedule with a dinner or get together every week is seen as regular protocol for the holidays. Instead of spreading yourself thin, be sure to give yourself a few days a week to take care of yourself. This way, you can avoid dreading any of your interactions and genuinely look forward to everything rather than wanting to avoid commitments.

Stick to a shopping list and try to shop online.

While anonymously browsing in shops or a grocery store might be a form of solitude any other time of the year, these activities are full of small talk and crowds during the holidays. Instead of aimlessly browsing and getting overwhelmed, try to stick to a list and find what you can online or in smaller, less crowded businesses.

While you may fall into one of the numerous categories of introversion, taking care of yourself is important in order to take care of others. Your loved ones know you well enough that they’ve probably seen your personality quirks, but these little changes in your approach to the holiday season is sure to enhance peace of mind for all involved.

Ashlyn Kittrell/

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An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays