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Thread: Introverts and Holiday Stress

  1. #1

    Default Introverts and Holiday Stress

    It's Thanksgiving this weekend. (Up here we celebrate in October; we're such special snowflakes, I know). It's a good time for all, of course. Several family members have come to visit, we had our big dinner last night, and it was a full day of talking, games, and spending time together.

    Sounds wonderful, right? Actually, by the time dinner was served, I was ready to scream.

    Honestly, ever since I've grown up, I haven't enjoyed Thanksgiving or Christmas very much. This kind of goes off the thread on personality types that was just posted, but I didn't want to hijack that thread. Being really introverted makes these holidays very painful. It's not that I dislike social contact - I enjoy being with family. But uninterrupted time with others makes me feel very anxious and inadequate, like I'm the only one who isn't happy.

    The fact that it's Thanksgiving makes it even worse. People worked so hard to make it perfect. How dare I be anything other than happy! I can't let everyone else down! Being at that table, despite the wonderful dinner, was an hour of complete torture, because I felt like at any minute my frustration would be picked up and everyone's holiday would be completely ruined, and it'd be all my fault.

    I'm not just on here to complain - I've been able to get that out, thankfully, and I feel a lot better this morning, thanks to one wonderful individual . I'm also looking for advice. Fellow introverts, how do you survive the super-social holidays? What makes Christmas and Thanksgiving bearable for you? Again - I love my family, and I appreciate how much they put into holidays; it's the stress of having to be "on" the whole time with no time to relax. My relationships are fine. It's the stress and pressure of the holidays that gets to me.

    Any advice on how to survive, and ideally enjoy, these events would be deeply appreciated. Christmas is coming, after all.

  2. #2


    Luckily we don't celebrate Thanksgiving over here, would be quite silly if we would I guess. But I know how this feels from other festivals, especially Christmas, Easter, certain birthdays, etc and new year's celebration. Though the last can also be quiet luckily...

    Anyway it's nice to hear that you already feel better, especially due to some help from a lovable person.

    I still like M.D.Laney's quite funny definition in general: Introverts are like a rechargeable battery. They need to stop expending energy and rest in order to recharge. Extroverts are like solar panels that need the sun to recharge. Extroverts need to be out and about to refuel.

    So... figuratively speaking you need to be fully charged up anyway, in order to survive somehow. But still I know it's a hassle simply for trying to be a part of the whole thing, especially certain conversations where everyone is babbling and you don't even find the opportunity to say something, despite if you want or don't want to say anything anyway, so you end up kinda frustrated besides it's absolutely even more so if someone starts to ask like~ "You're kind of quiet, or seem to be a quiet being." ... aww, sorry that I rather love one on one or small group discussions about ideas and things that are interesting, which goes for every introvert. Furthermore depending on our energy level, we may even enjoy a larger social gathering. It's just that prolonged chitchat wears us down and we start to feel the need to withdraw.

    Uhm, to begin with, if you or anyone has some time to kill/is interested: There are a lot of books about this too, especially from psychologists. My favorite is "The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World" since it anyway has one of the best and most simple advice I think:
    Keep yourself occupied, so help preparing, collect the dishes from the table, volunteer to help out in the kitchen in general. That way you're interacting, but you're doing your own thing. "I call it pretend mingling." ;)

    Secondly, don't use the "come late - less time to spent there" tactic. In a way it surely makes sense, since it's simply less time you are trying to get along somehow, but you will arrive at the time most people are already be there. And that's one of the worst possible things to do for an introvert. You're simply overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people, which are also already mingling and that makes harder again for you to start to interact.
    So be early, one of the first people. That way you can adapt more easily, since most guests probably don't arrive at the same time, which gives you way more time, instead of being overwhelmed to begin with.

    Trying to find moments to get away for a few minutes to recharge yourself also works great in my opinion. Getting some fresh air, though mostly you will find the smoking folks there, or taking a small break in the bathroom whatsoever. And also, if possible don't try to mingle with the biggest crowd. Just look for a place away from the crowd and just sit, relax, and observe. People will drift by sooner or later and you can start to chat with them if you wish to do so.

    That's what works for me mostly... and the most important thing at last: Don't think and never let anyone tell you that you're worth anything less or shouldn't be there, since-or-if you don't act like the majority does. The world needs both extroverts and introverts, the two balance each other. And we can anyway be quite interesting, if we have the chance and want to show that.

  3. #3


    I've always survived by being able to locate a quiet corner to get away from everyone from time to time. When the gatherings are at my place, this is my room; elsewhere it may be outside or an actual corner in a quieter part of the room.

  4. #4


    Ooh, what a great thread! I currently am living in Spain and can only go home about once a year, in this case Christmas. Hence, there seems to be a lot of pressure on me when I am home to be a social butterfly. What's worse, everyone wants to hear the supposed stories I have about galavanting around Europe with nothing but a backpack and a bottle of liquor 'cause … well, that's what twenty-somethings do, right?

    Eh, that's not really my style. Or, it could be, but only if done in extreme moderation. So I tend to feel as though I disappoint the expectations of relatives—I mean, when your mother wants you to party and drink more you begin to wonder …

    But no, I can understand where these people are coming from, but that doesn't mean that I want to always be a part everything nor relay stories that have never happened merely to fulfill their expectations. I've often told myself that it's fine to just escape into my own world because that usually ends up happening whether I want to to or not. I've also told myself that it's fine to bring a book and just be myself at social events. You can't make everybody happy but then again, they're your family. If they truly have an issue with it, then that's their shortcomings, not yours.

    I hope this advice was helpful. At the end of the day, I think you can do things to help the situation, but your aversion to party-like activities will always be there and you'll just have to deal with it At least that's my personal experience.

    Also, DaLira, thanks for the book suggestion. I just finished reading Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, but I would enjoy something that's more advice-focused. I spent for years of uni wondering why I found weekends more stressful than weekdays. Finding some research on introverts and introversion was enlightening and comforting, but I'd still love to read more

  5. #5


    I just cant do family gatherings, too much drama, stress and bad memories. Being around people who dislike me because i married a boy and not some girl.. no, i stay home, stay cuddled with my man and have a few drinks. Watch bad tv. Thats my idea of a great holiday, being with those i actually love and care for.

  6. #6


    I'm as introverted as you can possibly be, and the holidays are the worst time of the year and nearly kill me. It's been a little better lately as families get older, people get married etc and go with different set of people. Thankfully, We usually only get together with my immediate family members, parents, sibling, grandma. Christmas is the worst of it for me though, My parents still have to get me things I don't Want or Need, can't ever get me the one thing I want but get me useless other things. I wouldn't mind them not getting me anything to begin with, its just that they need to save so we can move out of this dumpy house, it really gets to me. I also never do much talking or are expected to any more, so things are getting better for me but I can see how stressful it is for some other introverts with large family gatherings

  7. #7


    Thanks for your advice and understanding, everyone. It's over now, and thankfully I have tomorrow off to relax a little. DaLira, thanks for so many great ideas! I did quite a bit of "pretend mingling" this weekend - at least I was able to keep dishes clean if nothing else! I will keep your advice in mind for the next holiday that rolls around. And NomadSage, thanks for the wonderful reminder that it's OK to be an introvert. It's really easy to feel inferior for who we are, isn't it? Also, I just got a copy of Quiet today, and I'm finding it interesting so far. Thanks for your reply, and welcome to ADISC, since you appear to be new

    Thanks to everyone else as well! Just knowing I'm not the only line to find these holidays more stressful than fun is wonderful!

  8. #8


    I'm probably an in the middle-vert....whatever that is. I'm somewhat outgoing, but I really enjoy my quiet time. Because I'm a teacher and a music director, I'm dealing with kids and adults all the time, talking and teaching. But honestly, I enjoy getting home and having some quiet.

    My wife and I are now the older members of our family, except for my wife's mom. The kids and grandchildren either come to our house for holidays, or we go to theirs. I always feel a little uncomfortable when visiting, as I never really know what to do. I'll bring my laptop and my Nookbook, but I spend most of the time sitting and talking when the occasion arises. What I'm really thinking is that I can go home tomorrow.

    When they come to our house it's a bit different, but there's still pressure. I want everyone to be happy and entertained, to some degree. Things work out, but I never feel 100 % comfortable. I think it's just how these things go.

  9. #9


    My nerves and sanity cant take being around my family during the holidays, or even any gathering for that matter especially after what happened last year. (If you want to really want to know what happened, PM me).

    For the past couple of years ( I drive a semi truck for a living) I just haven't been home, I've just stayed out on the road.

    This year, I'm actually going to be taking a vacation and meeting up with a couple of friends from my old unit in the Army. I'd consider those of us getting together closer than any one in my actual "family".

  10. #10

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