Breathe in peace. Breathe out chaos.
Thanksgiving, also known as the beginning of entertaining season, is almost upon us. And even in these Covid times, people will be hosting gatherings and parties, albeit on a smaller scale than usual. Introverts can probably already feel their stress levels rising as they think about all-day-long get-togethers, forced socializing, painful small talk, and people with no boundaries—not to mention no masks. As someone who has spent wayyyy too many unhappy Thanksgivings (it’s a long story), I have perforce devised methods for minimizing the misery. Here are my top 10 tips to help introverts survive, and even thrive, during Thanksgiving.
- Spend Thanksgiving alone. The easiest way to survive Thanksgiving is to not do it at all. If it is at all possible, consider spending Thanksgiving by yourself, or at least in a much smaller group at your home. This might be easier this year than in previous years, given that a lot of people will be social distancing and/or avoiding their elderly/at-risk relatives. I personally love skipping the shenanigans entirely, avoiding people/awkward gatherings, and instead ordering in, snuggling on my couch, and enjoying a book or movie. Make sure to order your food, snacks, libations, and other supplies in good time.
- Pace yourself. If you can’t skip Thanksgiving completely, the next best thing is to make it minimal. Be a good steward of your energy and turn down as many invitations as you wish to. You don’t need to attend every gathering to which you’ve been invited.
- If you must travel, drive yourself. Have a means of escape. Knowing you have this way out will make you a bit more relaxed to begin with.
- Guest, don’t host. If you know that you don’t like entertaining, don’t force yourself to do it. Be the best guest there ever was. Try not to do an overnight visit unless you’re visiting people that you are completely comfortable with. If you must spend a night or two (or three!! The horror!!), then book a hotel so that you have a safe, solitary space to escape to at the end of each day.
- Arrive late on purpose. That automatically cuts down on the amount of time you have to spend socializing. Mention a prior commitment that you can’t get out of. Your host does not have to know that your prior engagement involves you, your pet, Netflix, snacks, and your couch. Arriving late on purpose also applies to virtual celebrations. Cut down on Zoom fatigue by joining the call late, or jumping off early. There is one caveat, though: please don’t be rude. If you are running late, planning on being late, or have to leave early, let your host know in reasonable time.
- Take breaks. Identify a safe space (Bathroom? Garden? Your car? Your old bedroom?), and hide out there for a few minutes if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Do a little meditation or deep breathing. Or stare out of a window and ponder why you did this to yourself. Again.
- Bond with kindred spirits. Instead of trying to be the extroverted life of the party, find one or two people that you can enjoy some meaningful, peaceful one-on-one convos with. #nosmalltalk
- Avoid people and topics that are triggering. You do not need to answer rude or intrusive questions, and you do not have to attend every argument that you are invited to. Mindful, purposeful avoidance is the order of the day. You probably know the people who push your buttons, so do yourself a favor and give them a wide berth. Similarly, if you sense that a conversation is about to go sideways, make a strategic exit. It’s simply not worth the aggravation.
- Perform a solitary task. After the main event is over, I often offer to do the dishes. This might not be for everyone, but it works for me. That’s one chore that pretty much guarantees you a big block of beautiful solitude, and you’ll score “great guest” points.
- Plan a decompression day. Devote Black Friday to YOU. Relax, relate, release. If you’re going to shop, do it from your couch. Again: knowing in advance that you’ll get to “switch off” will make any Turkey Day socializing a whole lot easier.
Text/Images ⒸLisa Hurley/@happyhappyphoenix.