As a highly sensitive person, I find the holidays to be overwhelming. Loud music, large crowds and enormous emotions come at me like tidal waves. Sometimes it’s too much to bear and I have to leave an event early, head home and hide under my blankets. But despite my introversion, there is a part of me that has major FOMO. I want to participate and socialize but when overwhelmed I want to hide. Of course this leads me to miss out on a ton of fun activities and important experiences.
A highly sensitive person is someone who feels and experiences the ways of life very deeply and personally. Check out this link to see if you may be highly sensitive. If you are, or even if you’re not but you still feel overwhelmed during the holiday season, these 7 tips can bring peace and enjoyment back during highly stressful times.
1. Take a time out
So important. Instead of leaving the party all together, take five to ten minutes alone to regroup. This can be in an unoccupied room at the event or even outdoors. During this time you can meditate or think about what you’d like to do next at the party or who you will talk to. Time alone will give you the break you need without completely isolating yourself for the rest of the night and missing out.
2. Go out in nature
We celebrate Christmas in our family; however, my family’s Christmas is broken up between four different places and events on Christmas Day. Rushing around from place to place seeing different people and racing against time to fit everything in turns me into a miserable zombie. Not who I want to be on Christmas. By midday I don’t even have the will to participate in the rest of the day’s activities. I’m completely cached out. We have this “tradition” of sorts (more like just something that always seems to take place), that when we get to my Grandmother’s house we walk down to the water and around her neighborhood while dinner is in the oven. It’s a 15-20 minute break, but sometimes we go down to the bay and take our shoes off to put our feet in the sand (I live in Bermuda—no snow for me!). Connecting with nature like that can completely negate overwhelming feelings. It’s very centering.
3. Play a game & Laugh!
We all know having fun and laughing reduces anxiety, but playing a game with a group of people gives introverts like me “something to do” and a way to connect with others.
4. Participate in Cooking & Cleaning
Using your hands to knead dough or washing dishes in warm soapy water is supremely relaxing. Cooking and cleaning may sound like a nightmare to you, but using your hands to do something useful gets rid of stress and anxiety. It can also be a quiet time or a time you connect with others.
5. Avoid Social Media
Scrolling through dozens of others’ parties, Christmas morning experiences, pictures of gaudy gifts, proposals and the like—whether we admit to it or not—puts a damper on our own experiences. The holidays aren’t about presents and parties, of course, deep down we all know that. But we live in the age of comparison. Comparisons that are 6 inches away from our faces and visible at all times of the day thanks to social media. Even the people most confident in their “single status” can feel a chord of jealousy and comparison run through them after seeing five different friends announce their engagements. Social media is just one more stressor on top of a hectic day we just don’t need.
6. Plan your day
Feeling out of control? Giving your day some structure will help with that. Plan what you will be eating, drinking and doing. Mindlessly eating sweets is totally okay if you feel comfortable with it, but often it makes me feel out of control of my day which in turn makes me uncomfortable and I draw inward. I find avoiding alcohol is best on busy days, so if that’s what you want put it in your plan and stick to it.
7. Be Grateful
Being grateful is something I’m hearing a lot more of lately. It’s a way to focus on all the amazing things in our lives versus what we don’t have. Just the fact that you’re at a holiday event surrounded by friends or family is something to be grateful for. There are so many who are going through the holidays alone. If possible, reach out to someone who may be struggling this holiday season and invite them into your life.
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Photo: Zhyvchik; Nickson; Heath; Unknown; Marshall; Emmanuel; Shevtsova via Unsplash