Holiday Stress Factor 1: Shopping = sensory overload = stress.
Introverts tend to be overwhelmed by too much sensory input. Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and joy. Yet these sentiments are often forgotten in the chaos of the shopping season. Head to the mall or a big city with lots of stores, and you might find your senses assaulted with Christmas overkill – too much music, too many blinking lights. Competing TV ads play in stores, and crowds of noisy people hurry past. And let’s not forget traffic woes – delays on the roadways, accidents, sirens blaring, honking horns. All of this means stressed out feelings for introverts, who crave peace and quiet more than most.
How to cope if you’re an introvert: The best way to not feel overwhelmed and over stimulated at Christmas is to avoid malls, big cities and of course, crowded events. Online shopping is an excellent option if you prefer to avoid stressful traffic situations and don’t care for crowds. If you do plan to catch the cyber sales while avoiding physical stores this year, just be sure to get a head start early – or you could be looking at some stressful situations related to mail-order gift delays, lost packages and such. Another, even more introvert-friendly option is to give homemade gifts from the heart. Photo collages, hand-knit scarves, home baked spice breads, and other items you make with your hands will likely be well received by friends and family. Taking the time to work on a handcrafted gift can also give you the peace and quiet you need to relax and unwind after a busy day.
Holiday Stress Factor 2: Big parties, big personalities.
Did you know that while extroverts typically feel happy and satisfied after a lively social event, introverted people feel drained and tired, or stressed and emotional? As an easily overwhelmed introvert, you may ind yourself faced with big, loud, clashing personalities at Christmas time. Relatives with whom you prefer to maintain minimal contact typically surface at this time of year. Being in their presence can leave you feeling depleted.
Introverts also tend to mentally process things in greater detail than the average person. You may come home after a “fun” holiday party with the weight of the world on your shoulders as you mull over things like what people really meant by what they said, what emotions they were having, and how you fit into it all.
How to cope as an introvert: One fun way to clear your mind after a too-lively holiday party is to journal it after you get home. Writing is great therapy for sensitive people, and if you’re an introvert you may already be a writer anyway. So make a fun exercise of analyzing the different personalities and conversations that played out at the party. You can put a humorous spin on it, you can employ sarcasm, or you can just ponder on paper what each person’s inner thoughts might have been. Also, tipsy party guests say and do funny things (or not-so-funny things that we laugh about later) – so write down what you heard and saw, and don’t forget to find the humor! Just be sure to leave out names, shred any incriminating evidence or offensive portrayals, or keep it anonymous if, for instance, you write in a blog online;)
Holiday Stress Factor 3: Social anxiety: Some people may see introverted people as anti-social, but in fact the opposite is typically the case. Introverts are not satisfied with surface chit-chat the way that many extroverts can be. Rather than talking about the weather, or always saying everything’s going great when maybe it isn’t, they seek deep connections and meaningful exchanges.
Another obvious problem for introverts is that they hesitate in social situations. Shyness can have an introvert wondering, “When is it my turn to talk? What if people think my story is weird or boring?” Because of this social anxiety, they may miss their chance to connect with others, which is what they really desire in the first place.