Surviving the Holidays as a Highly Sensitive Introvert

Do you get overwhelmed during the holidays particularly when there’s a lot of noise and people?

Do you feel like you’re running on empty after socializing?

Does small talk feel painful and boring to you?

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You may be a highly sensitive introvert. For those of us individuals who are sensitive it can be particularly challenging to navigate the holidays when there’s so much socializing and commotion. Let’s look at some of the ways we can support ourselves during this holiday season.

Tips for Surviving the Holidays as a Highly Sensitive Introvert:


  • Incorporate downtime into your schedule

    -Scheduling downtime to allow yourself to rest and recharge before, during, and after holiday events. You know yourself better than anyone else, do you need a day or two to recuperate from visiting with friends/family? If so, schedule those days now as they are going to be very important for helping you feel prepared to transition back into your daily routine. Downtime is vital in protecting your energy. When visiting family/friends, incorporating downtime might look like going for solo walks during parties, staying at a hotel, or having a private room for yourself to retreat to before/during/after gatherings.

  • Set healthy boundaries with friends and family

    -This idea of setting boundaries with people, especially people you care about, can feel very scary. It can bring up insecurities around hurting someones feelings or letting someone down. With that being said, if you are always saying yes to others, then you are saying no to yourself.

    -As a Highly Sensitive Introvert, it’s vital for your well-being that you set healthy boundaries with the people in your life. If you don’t, you end up feeling burnt out because there’s no energy left to attend to your own needs.

    -During the holidays, setting a boundary for yourself might be saying no to a gathering, or figuring out beforehand how long you want to stay at an event. Maybe you want to stay one hour instead of three hours. It’s okay to say no, and it’s necessary to say no in order to take care of yourself and to prevent overwhelm. If you practice saying no, I bet you’ll find yourself feeling more present with friends and family when you are able to interact with them from a centered place, not a depleted place.

  • Mindful check-ins with yourself throughout the day

    -Checking in allows you to figure out what you really want or need in any given moment. How are you feeling? Are you ready to go? Are you starting to feel really overwhelmed? This is all helpful information to let you know what you need to do next in order to support yourself. Do you need to go for a walk? Do you need to call it a night and head home?

  • Escape small talk

    -We’ve all been there. You’re heading to a party and you feel some anxiety surface as you think about having to engage with people in small talk conversation. Highly Sensitive People would much rather have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone.

    So how can you escape small talk at a holiday gathering?

    -Think about if there are questions you could ask someone to prompt the conversation to move towards a deeper level. If someone is talking about work, maybe you ask them what they love about their job most? Maybe you ask what they find the most challenging about their job? These are more vulnerable questions which could lead to deeper conversation which will be both energizing and interesting.

    -Another option in order to escape small talk would be to help with setting things up at the gathering or taking things down. It allows you to focus your attention on a task and feel helpful to others while hopefully (fingers crossed!) being able to avoid some of that small talk.

    -Lastly, give yourself permission to end the small talk conversation by saying something like, “I’m getting thirsty excuse me please I am going to go get a drink and some snacks.”

  • Do what makes YOU feel good!

    -What are things that make you feel happy, excited, and recharged? What are you looking forward to during your holiday break? Do you need to schedule some yoga classes? Work on an art project? Go see a movie? Make sure you schedule in some fun things to do that you really enjoy!

  • Soothe your inner child

    -Spending time with family can bring up all of your past wounds and hurts from childhood. We often slip back into our behavior patterns and become triggered when interacting with family. Our inner child is very present with us during these challenging times, and they need to be supported. Saying something like, “I’ve got you, we can get through this together” will let them know you are protecting them. Only you know what your inner child needs to hear and what you’ll need to do in order to support that part of you who is feeling scared and hurt.

  • Know yourself and accept your limitations

    -Everyone has environments that they thrive in. Ours just doesn’t happen to be huge family gatherings with lots of loud noise, kids running around, and people feeling stressed. As HSP’s we often notice subtleties and feel things deeply. If everyone around us is feeling stressed, then we start feeling those overwhelming feelings. Once we are able to accept that we have limitations in this type of environment, we can support ourselves by making the necessary adjustments. We can make these overwhelming environments work for us. By tuning into what WE need as Highly Sensitive Introverted individuals.

  • Spend time with people who make you feel loved and accepted

    -Schedule visits with those friends/family members who lift you up and accept you for exactly who you are because YOU are awesome. Just the way you are. Meet with those friends who understand you and can support you especially if you are having a hard time around the holidays.

When you tune in to listen to your own needs, you’ll know what to do in order to take care of yourself. It may not feel easy to do things like set healthy boundaries or leave a party earlier than others but it’s necessary to protect your energy.

As a reminder…

  • It’s okay to say no

  • It’s okay to leave the party early

  • It’s okay to listen to your needs and honor them

  • It’s okay to feel however you feel when visiting family

  • it’s okay to cancel a commitment

  • It’s okay to want to be alone

  • It’s okay to change your mind

  • It’s okay to do nothing

Be gentle with yourself.

You’re doing the very best that you can in this moment.

Sending you warm wishes this holiday season

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Please visit www.hsperson.com to learn more about the Highly Sensitive Trait. You can take a self-test to determine if you’re an HSP. Supporting HSP’s is a specialty of mine so please reach out if you’d like some support.