Christmas for Introverts

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Christmas is both my absolute favourite time of year and the time I find most fraught.

You see, I’m an introvert and sometimes my expectations of what Christmas will be like (twinkly lights, rest, relaxation and fun) don’t match up with reality. Instead, my reality involves flying from Spain to England, dealing with ME/CFS, planning way in advance and finding it difficult to fit in everything I want to do. Add to that the fact that I naturally need a lot of my own space, and I stay with family for two weeks, and that restful Christmas seems a total wipe out, right?

Well this is my seventh Christmas living in Spain, and travelling back to England, so I’d like to think that I’ve got a bit better at addressing what I need, and so I’m sharing some of my tips today. These will be helpful to introverts, but could also help those of you who feel anxious about lots of time with other people for whatever reason. I’ve been there too.

Plan ahead

If you know what you want to do over Christmas, it’ll be much easier to share these plans for others. Offer up your time as you want to spend it, rather than letting others dictate your movements. For example, if you know that you need a day or two to yourself between Christmas and New Year, get that clear in your head now and make it clear to people that you’re not available.

You can prioritise this down time too. The first thing my husband and I did this year was make plans for the 30th and 31st December, booked a cheap hotel and made it known that we were doing our own thing for a couple of days. Based on how we usually feel by this point in the holiday, it’s the perfect time to take time to ourselves and knowing I have it coming up will hopefully be a boost to me on the more tired and busy days.

Your plans don’t have to be detailed, but if you at least block out when you need your own time, then it’s easier to survive and enjoy the busy days, knowing that you’ve got some down time to come.

No is complete sentence

Saying “no” to people is TOUGH, I get it. The only problem is that saying “yes” to everything leaves us introverts wiped out and resentful, so that’snot going to work either. I’ve been practicing saying “no” this year and I have 2 tips.

  1. When you don’t feel comfortable agreeing to a plan, listen to that feeling and allow yourself time to mull it over before replying. If I reply right away, I feel like I have to say “yes”, when in fact I do have a choice.

  2. Consider which bit you want to say “no” to, and decide if you can offer up an alternative. I was invited out to dinner just before Christmas which I couldn’t afford, so I offered a cheaper alternative plan which was well received. This felt so much better than saying “yes” to something I didn’t want to do (and didn’t have the money for) because I felt I had to.

I’m not suggesting you say “no” to everything that comes your way this festive season (unless, of course, you want to!) but it’s not necessary to say “yes” to everything either. Get a bit choosy and do what suits you.

What fills you up?

We introverts need time to ourselves to recharge, so what does it for you? Do you find your daily meditation practice gives you that boost, or maybe it’s an early night. When we’re busy and there’s lots of lovely things going on, it’s too easy to let these things slip and not notice that we’re feeling the effects until we’re worn out, grumpy and just over Christmas entirely. The chances are that no one will do this for you, so it’s up to you to prioritise what you need.

I realised recently that I was skipping my 10 minute meditations and making do with shorter ones and it didn’t feel good, so I’ve promised myself to carve out that 10 minutes each day over the Christmas holiday to ensure that I feel grounded and, well, just me. It’s my responsibility to fit this in and I’ll be aiming to do it every morning before I even get up. That way I start the day the right way for me.

I also know that I’ll massively benefit from curling up with a book when I feel overwhelmed by people and plans, so that’s exactly what I’ll do, just as often as I can.

Sleep

Let’s get basic for a minute. No one feels their best when they’re not getting enough sleep, but Christmas can mean lots of parties and late nights. Add in family squabbles and alcohol and you’ve got a recipe for feeling awful about yourself and others.

Knowing what you need and then taking yourself off for the odd earlier night can fuel you for more fun and, as a bonus, it’s also the perfect time to spend a bit of time doing what suits YOU. So pick up that book you get in your stocking, or watch a bit of Netflix. Switch off and refuel.

Put down your phone

It’s easy to get into comparing our Christmas with everyone else. Social media means we can see what everyone else is doing, but let’s be honest here. We only see the highlights and not the reality. It’s rare for anyone to talk about the fall outs, burnt dinners or spoilt plans.

This year I’m going to stay off Instagram on Christmas Day and focus on making fun memories with my in laws who I’ll be spending the day with. I don’t need to see what everyone else is up, no matter what my phone addicted mind will tell me!

Are you an introvert, and what do you suggest for staying relaxed and happy over Christmas? Feel free to add your ideas in the comments so we can all benefit!