5 Ways For Introverts To Show Up Authentically at the Holidays Without Getting Overwhelmed

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

Many people don’t know what to expect as the 2020 holiday season approaches. What does it mean to have socially distanced family meals? What if you’ve been hanging out with your cat? You're working from home, and Aunt Karen was thrown out of several stores for refusing to wear her mask. ...But your mother insists that the WHOLE FAMILY is TOGETHER.

If there were differences between people before the pandemic, they came out in 2020. People clustered into covid-bubbles with people who had a similar tolerance for risk. If you and your partner had different beliefs when to wear a mask, suddenly there was a lot of arguing. These differences collide on the center stage of family gatherings.

This is a BIG challenge for those of us who are introverts. Moreso, if you’re like me and are an empath. This means I am highly sensitive to people’s emotions and energies. Like you, I am not “oversensitive” with “lots of feelings”. In fact, I am simply practiced in naming my feelings as they come up. I can care about you as a person and not get pulled into your experience.

In reality, as an introvert, I have to confess. I am looking forward to COVID 2020 holidays (...and 2021. Is that hoping too much?).

If you’re baffled, it is because of this simple tool that has found widespread use in 2020: Zoom.

I am not encouraging you to mute your insufferable in-laws. But, I have created an energy-saving plan. Protecting the time and energy of introverts and tired people alike. These tips are to make the holidays easier for those of you who get drained by other people.

Step One: Say No. (Thank you). While I would encourage you to start this year by saying no to all events that drain you - it’s hard to break tradition. You can use COVID as a trial excuse to not be around the entire fam this year.

“Hey, I know we all hung out the other week. I didn’t feel like I was able to connect with people because of ...the circumstances. I would be happier to connect with people without masks and everyone can be in the comfort of their own home.”

“Hey, I know it’s important to you that everyone is together. But, I would prefer to spend our time together online. This way, we can ensure that everyone can gather in good health next year.”

Or, my personal favorite: “No thank you. Spending time close to other people is outside my comfort zone. I would appreciate your support of this decision.”

Step Two: Make all the foods you love and set up a really nice space for yourself to enjoy the meal with your family. (Doesn’t have to be traditional food - but it does have to be food that nourishes you.)

Step Three: Gratitude. Lead by example and create new traditions. You might be the family introvert. Yet, you are equally connected to other people in our global community. In that light, it is appropriate to hold space at the beginning of all shared meals for the land. You can learn more about Land Acknowledgements here. You can look up your local area with the Native Land app.

Step Four: Have a time-cap. My least favorite part of any gathering is not knowing when is a socially acceptable time to leave. When you are in your own home, you can leave the meeting whenever you want. For me, that might be 20 minutes after food. That is, if no one has guilted me into a virtual game. It’s not a bad idea to say yes to one or two things that fit within your time constraint. Usually my tolerance for games is 2 or fewer rounds.

This year is not about estranging your family. It can be a practice of maintaining boundaries. Focusing on what feels comfortable and available to you. Once you have broken the ice once, the next event will be easier to enforce those boundaries. You can create a new set of traditions where you feel included and heard as your introverted self.

Step Five: Have a post meal recharge plan. This can look like:

  • Saving your desert to eat on your own with your cat and favorite TV show

  • Bubble Bath and Face Masks

  • Video Chatting your one friend that actually pours into your cup for some reflection

  • 60-90 min slow relaxation yoga

  • Reading

  • Drinking Tea

  • Chilling on the couch and sitting with the silence. (I do this. A lot.)

And it really is that simple! Although the holidays can can sometimes feel a little overwhelming for introverts, these five steps are sure to help any shameless wallflower navigate and appreciate the true gifts of the season.

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Izzy Begej

Izzy is a career authenticity coach. She works with introverted feminists to show up as their authentic selves in work and in life. You are irreplaceable when you show up as your authentic self. Izzy is unintentionally hilarious when commenting on the state of the world. (Humor is a coping mechanism, y'all). She is obsessed with brunch, and loves creating new recipes that involve very little work. Everyone else thinks her food "tastes too healthy," but friends know that strong coffee is all she needs to face uncomfortable realities. Committed to community, Izzy has one big goal: building the foundation for a world that is equitable and worth living in for everyone.

Connect with Izzy on Instagram or LinkedIn.

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