Holiday season relief for an introvert

It’s no secret, yup, I’m an introvert. I prefer long stretches of time where it appears to an uninformed person that I may in fact be catatonic and unresponsive to external stimuli. I’ve never drooled on myself and why should I, I’m actually rather quite busy inside my own head. I’m a calm lake, windless night, snowfall silence on the outside. I’m Grand Central Station at rush hour, a mosh pit at an Avenged Sevenfold concert, an erupting volcano on the inside. For someone who isn’t an introvert, it is hard to understand just how busy it is inside our heads and how a common affliction like Misophonia can rattle our thought process like a California earthquake (noise cancelling headphones for the win!). This will be my 40th holiday season on this great planet, 22 of which have been spent as a bonified “adult” in the eyes of the law. I can’t say with honesty that all 22 years I would have described myself as an adult, but I digress. I’m going to share some of my tried and tested methods of relief, ranked in order of effectiveness (at least for me).

Solitude

This is often hard to find during the holiday season as its typically a time when you see family that you normally would never want to see under normal circumstances. I love my family, but taken in all at once, in the same house, with kids added into the mix; its pure torture and a Hoover Dam spill way in terms of an energy drain. Anyway, solitude is the most effective, yet most time-consuming method for me to get back to a comatose exterior and a New York interior. While its first on my list, during the month of December it’s shocking to everyone that you’d rather spend time alone over spending time with that Aunt that makes that one dish you mentioned as “good” 10 years ago and she continues to make because she thinks it your favorite….. A man can only have so many Spinach Parmesan squares before it’s “No sir, I don’t like it.”

Passenger Staring

This is by far the easiest thing to find especially when family is 1-2 hours away from your home. My wife already knows that either I drive TO our destination or FROM our destination, but not both, so she decides upon leaving which it will be. As a passenger, I can slip into a self-imposed hypnotic trance where it feels like I’m looking outside windows that really are my own eyes. The trance doesn’t need to last long to be highly effective, but can be troubling to someone witnessing it as it sometimes appears I don’t blink (but I do.) I’ll get the tap on the leg paired with “Are you okay?” even though I’ve been like this for many years. Making sure I’m alive and dashing the hopes of an insurance payout, LOL. Depending on the time of day, this can be a highly effective recharge.

Toilet Time

I struggled with a title for this section, cut me some slack. Finding a bathroom, whether you have a requirement or not, is always a good way to get in a quick reset. In a house with only one bathroom, this is obviously harder as it almost certainly means you will be interrupted. However, in a house with more than one bathroom, the chances you can get 10-15 minutes of decompression is much more likely. While this isn’t ideal, and similar to plugging in your phone for 30 minutes, it can give you an hour or two more of energy to deal with the holiday party or family get together. The success or failure of this method will be determined by how practiced you are at micro-meditation.

Alcohol

My least favorite and often least effective, it does have an almost guaranteed benefit of making time go faster when it really hasn’t. A mildly intoxicated brain isn’t as sharp or aware of its fatigue (energy drain) and of course it’s called “liquid courage” for a reason. I’m not a drinker, so when I do partake in some bourbon or beer, I make sure to carefully monitor my intake in relation to absorbing foods to ensure that I don’t go too far down the road to drunk. This might not work for others, but for me, it does help when there are a lot of people and things going on around me that demand my observation and sometimes, my interactions. I had a few at my parents house over Thanksgiving before dinner, I’ll most likely have a few at my parents house for Christmas Eve dinner, and I’ll definitely have a few at the family get together planned for after New Years. Other than these few times in the year, I rarely have more than one drink per month, if any.

Last Resort

Throw an angry tantrum and demand that it’s time to go. While this works in 100% of the cases, the residual effects can linger for hours and even days afterward. This method is to be used as a last resort, hence the title, so use at your own risk. There is always the tried and true “I’m not going” demand that, if accepted, could potentially leave you at home with an empty house for several hours, see Solitude.

What works for you to help keep your sanity during the holiday season?

11 thoughts on “Holiday season relief for an introvert

  1. My granddaughter…she wants to learn and we spend lots of time on many subjects…I keep my mind busy with reading then making notes for future stuff….a nice glass of wine makes somethings tolerable…my “lew” is a library more books there than in most homes…just want all this craziness over….cannot end soon enough…chuq

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  2. Your last section made me LOL. The fallout can indeed last for days, as I’ve witnessed! (Fortunately, the one time I bolted from an event, Anthony didn’t fault me; we later agreed what had happened was a panic attack after three-ish hours as an introvert crammed in a tiny, closed room with a bunch of strangers. Now, we both know what signs to look for, though that very particular convergence of circumstances makes me think I’ll usually have plenty of chances to mini-discinnect.)

    I also zone out into a trance-like place for a quick recharge. J does not like this, so if he sees me, it’s lots of admonitions to come back, Mommy.

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    • After 16 years of marriage, my wife knows that certain things just aren’t for me and she never bothers asking. When in situations already, my facial expressions tend to give me away, and when I say “tend”, I really mean all the damn time 🙂 Sometimes I push through, other times I just find a place to go to until she’s ready to leave.

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  3. As the mother of 2 adult versions of yourself and their father who was much the same, I see both sides of this. I struggle with social anxiety so a glass of eggnog and rum got me through many a holiday gathering with difficult people. I found a very sweet novel written from a mans perspective most helpful in so many ways. “Breakfast with Buddha” by Roland Merullo to be a delightful take on that. My daughter, a serious introvert uses a little pot on occasion that makes her downright loquacious. My son can sit for hours or days and not say a word. Too much social life leads to a long bike ride or a run. Hope you find a gentle solution.

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  4. I stay sane over the holiday season because I’ve learned to say “no” to just about everything and everyone. I used to do it all: big house party, cookies, dinners out with friends, travel. Then after one harrowing December I decided never again. Now I do about one activity per week, buy cookies, invite only a few people over to the house… and try not to travel. Never been happier about the holidays than I am now!

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  5. Lol! Omg, this can so easily describe both me and my hubby! I get so grouchy when my husband has days off during my work days (I work from home), and keep feeling like my solitude is being encroached on… I need my me-time. Heaven forbid someone interrupt zombie-shower.

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      • Lol! Sometimes! Usually I just have my routine, and that shower is the one time I just empty my mind and don’t think about anything. It’s my reverie. Usually, and it sounds like we’re similar, my mind is constantly mulling over things, and my shower is my “zen” or “zombie” time.

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