An Introvert’s Guide to Staying Sane over the Holiday Break


Sydney Gager, Editor

Regardless of what holiday(s) you might be celebrating this year, there’s a good chance your two weeks off from school are going to be filled with family members. Whether they’re invading your home or you’re going away with them, it’s important to remember the importance of time to yourself. I’m mostly focusing on ways to conserve your social energy, which basically refers to how introverts loose charge the more social they are (while extroverts are energized by social interactions). Just think of yourself as a battery that will go into melt-down if you force too much human interaction on it. 

Use the grumpy teen stereotype to your advantage. If you’re like me, you might feel obligated to spend every minute with family. But other than the fact that you’ll overload your social capabilities, nobody is expecting you to stick around that long. Most adults don’t want to be around family 24/7 and teens are even more notorious for disappearing. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping until 12 (or later), but if you don’t you can pretend to. Even once the day is in full-swing, there’s nothing stopping you from taking a nap (watching Netflix), doing homework (watching Netflix), or reading a book (watching Netflix). Don’t get me wrong–you should also spend time with your family, but well timed appearances (whether that’s helping prepare a meal, playing a board game, etc.) will make your family appreciate you a lot more. Staying on your phone in a common area is not doing anyone any favors. You’re much better off recharging in your room and then reappearing to fully participate in specific holiday festivities.

Stuck in a conversation you don’t have the energy for? Smiling and nodding makes you a well-loved conversationalist; often you don’t need to speak much. Whatever extrovert is grilling you on your college-plans would probably rather talk about their own college stories than listen to you. Give short, friendly answers and slowly let them take over the conversation. Soon enough you won’t need to say anything more than “yeah” and “that’s so cool,” rather than trying to answer a billion questions about college.

Expected to hang with a group that you don’t have the energy for? Often parents don’t understand the suffering of introverts. If you’re forced into a situation you’re uninterested in, find something good to focus on. Whether that’s steering a conversation with your grandma to your favorite TV show or convincing your little cousins to play a board game, there’s always some way to make social interaction a little less miserable. If you truly cannot, take out your phone. It’s not ideal (as many adults will go on their “phone bad, book good” rants) but it’s better than pushing yourself too far and arguing with your family. Use your phone sparingly and intelligently. Will social media recharge you or distract you? 

Find the people–or pets–that use up the least amount of social energy. In large events, you can usually choose one (or two) people to engage in conversation. Find your favorite family member and choose a corner of the room. Absolutely cannot find the energy for conversation, but can’t escape to your room? Find the nearest furry animal and sit on the floor. Depending on how social the animal is, you might be able to go unnoticed by the nearest human for a long time. No animals? Babies–as well as being adorable–don’t know how to talk yet. Even little kids (although energetic) usually use up less introverted energy because they just need a little encouragement and they will start talking, you’ll only need to half listen.

Don’t forget that you can leave. Whether you’re home and can go visit friends (well-chosen, non-energy-draining-friends) or away, there’s always some excuse to get out. Go for a run, walk the dog, go to the library, or do some last-minute shopping. Use your creativity or join small groups (like a favorite cousin or a quiet parent) to do something that will get you out of the house. 

Many introverts will feel trapped this holiday season. Don’t be one of them. Use these techniques–and whatever else works for you–to escape. Remember your well-timed appearances, to smile and nod, and to find ways to enjoy yourself. This break is for you, don’t let family obligations ruin it. Spend time with your family, but be gentle with yourself. There’s nothing wrong with needing time away; burning yourself out will make you and those around you miserable. Know yourself, know your needs, and have a great holiday break!