Surviving The Holidays As A Highly Sensitive Person
Clear boundaries, communication and planning can save YOUR holidays!
Christmas 2011. Me in a car with two toddlers, stuck in traffic, crying my eyes out because I was so exhausted and I had to prepare Christmas dinner for 24 people.
Christmas 2012. I refused. People got mad and insulted. I was happy in my pj’s in front of the tv with my husband, kids and a glass of wine.
Christmas 2013. Back to doing Christmas dinner, clearly stating my needs, asking for help and planning well, well ahead. Had a decent time.
Christmas 2014. Small set back. Got suckered into a family holiday and I ended up taking care of 15 people for 10 days. People pleaser and all…
Christmas 2015. Back on track. Clear communication, clear planning and great friends…Awesome time!
Christmas 2016. Things are in motion, boundaries are clear. Actually looking forward to it!
Being Highly Sensitive around the holidays can be extremely overwhelming. Yes, we want to create magic for our loved ones but the only magic we crave is our bed. Or a spa, I wouldn’t complain if I got a spa day during Christmas! But you get my drift, if you don’t get your energy from constant stimulation and people around you, the holidays can be exceptionally harsh on your system.
But, like everything in life, it’s vital that you communicate to those who matter to you what you need. Around me I’ve seen people who seem harsh, antisocial or non-responsive about invitations to social gatherings. And they are being judged by it. But I know that it’s just too much for them and it’s tough not only on them, but also for the people around them, who just don’t understand.
The thing is, we must really learn to understand our own energy limits AND then communicate this effectively to our family so that the holidays become a pleasant time for ALL of us .
First, it is important to know if you can add a few more nuances to your temperament: are you a shy highly sensitive person? An introverted/extroverted highly sensitive? Are you an empath as well? Or are you also a sensation seeker? By understanding the nuances of your personality you can better understand (and predict) which circumstances make you feel overwhelmed and which types of situations make you thrive.
And then, I suggest that you start tracking your energy levels in an energy journal:
- At the end of the day, note how tired you feel and what kind of activities you took part in during that day. Become aware during the day if you felt your energy level changing at any particular point. What were you doing that made you feel more tired or more energized?
(Don’t try to track in your head…tracking on paper (or computer or phone) makes us focus on that what we want to focus. And too much in your head is never good! Just more overstimulation.)
- After tracking for at least one week make take note on the things in your journal that revived you the most. Create a list and put in a place where you can see it easily. This exercise will help you not only during the holidays but in many aspects of daily life.
Now that you understand yourself better, it is time to TALK to your family. On time. Don’t spring it on them crying or screaming because you are already pass all stages of sensibility.
So yes, talk, if you are one of the lucky ones, your family wants to understand you. Explain to them how certain circumstances make you feel. Keep it on the ‘I’. It has nothing to do with your love for them. It’s about your love for yourself.
Educate your significant ones about High Sensitivity. If the ones closest to you back you up then you won’t feel so alone while standing your ground. With understanding comes acceptance and they will probably be more understanding if you choose to decline a party during the holidays. Don’t be ashamed for protecting yourself.
Also, make sure that you plan enough down time between activities or visits from family members. Be realistic about how long people will be staying and how much time you need to rejuvenate.
Things won’t change right away, but if you take control of your energy and your life, people will follow…
To contact Karin, click here. For in-depth information and actionable tools then download her free Ultimate Self-Care Guide for Highly Sensitive Parents.
Originally published at www.yourtango.com on November 16, 2016.