Don't Feel Stuffed at Thanksgiving

12 Introvert Strategies So You Thrive This Turkey Weekend!



Thanksgiving can be a joyous reunion for family and friends, a brief respite from work and school to relax and recharge.


Then why can Thanksgiving holiday, a traditional favorite, be filled with so much anxiety and exhaustion, even prompting some to wish for an early return to work or school?



Disrupted Habits

Introverts are often creatures of habit and control. We like the familiarity of our routine, our surroundings, and the people we interact with. We relish control through planning and the execution of those plans.


Holidays are far from the routine and control we struggle to reserve the rest of the year. November and December are filled with company holiday parties, vacation time, that is filled with more family interface, congested travel, touring activities in strange places, and catching up with relatives and friends far beyond the fifteen minutes our curiosity and energy can often justify.


Don't get me wrong, most of us love our family, extended relatives, and celebrating meaningful holidays that spark memories of gatherings past. But truth be told, even close family is not always easy to converse with or falls short of generating the interest level to invest the time in a lengthy conversation with people we may only see once a year.


With a little help, we can change our objective from just how we can survive Thanksgiving to how can we thrive this holiday season. Somehow, we need to balance truly enjoying the downtime and also becoming more involved in the conversation?

It's hard to gather conversation interest when we are exhausted, stressed, or under pressure.


We need to prepare - prepare to relax and to engage. The answer to the challenge of enjoying ourselves AND engaging in more conversation starts with the same antidotes - preparation and leaning on our strengths.


  1. Manage energy: Create breaks for you and others. No need to have the full day all together.

  2. Deep dive: Chitchat can be annoying. Prepare one topic for each person at the gathering, something you are curious about - their background, their travels, hobbies, or work... Approach this as an interesting learning experience.

  3. Networking Intimacy: We prefer small groups, for shorter times, in familiar places. Even if the gathering is large, break it down into groups of 2-4 people to spend time with.

  4. List of 4: In advance, jot down (i) questions for each person, (ii) some interesting highlights of your last year, (iii) some quirky news items from your phone's morning briefing, and (iv) some fun adventures you have in store for the year ahead. Even tuck them into a pocket and refresh your memory on a break to help get you in the flow.

  5. Home field advantage: Consider hosting an event so you can decide on the time and activities. You can also take breaks with host duties (prepping, cooking, cleaning). It is harder to ask people to leave, but consider a hard end time (perhaps you have somewhere else to go?).

  6. Plan activities: Avoid the draining chitchat. Bring board games, old slideshows, or plan a kickball game at the local park.

  7. Bring props: Consider costume dinners or memorabilia sharing to increase engagement.

  8. Table topics: Offer a topic in advance or at the beginning of a meal. It could be what we are thankful for or past holiday memories. It makes the time pass and you learn something new along the way.

  9. Exit strategy: If you are a guest, create an exit strategy. Another commitment or just time for a nap or walk.

  10. Create solo time: Plan alone time to take a walk, go to a museum, grab a coffee out, or meditate. These are like gold.

  11. Journaling: An introvert's stalwart friend. Jot down your concerns. Prepare for the events and some of the tips above. Vent any frustrations during the holidays. Having an outlet helps calm the nerves and avoids staying in a dark, unhappy place too long.

  12. Take notes: Make notes for next time. Remember where you left off on conversations or unique stories or hobbies you learned this year so that the next holiday season is even easier.


Oftentimes these events are much more memorable in the rearview mirror. The great memories are clouded by the stress or exhaustion of the moment. What a shame we can't enjoy them in the moment. Try some of the strategies above to make this year different.



Sharing & Compassion

I do believe Thanksgiving is intended for sharing and compassion. Show some interest and empathy for others, but also extend compassion to yourself. Recognize what you need to not only survive but thrive during the holidays.


There is no need to compete with the more outgoing relatives around the table. Embrace yourself and respect your own boundaries - even if others may not. Don't hesitate to share your personality - what makes you you, what you enjoy, and what you have a passion for. Like any group of people, some will be curious, others uninterested. That's okay. But you can take pride that you've stretched yourself and shared your true you.


Don't take the burden of the whole conversation. Conversations are two-way streets. If you prepare and make the effort, you are doing your part. If others don't choose to engage, perhaps they are distracted and it's a bad time, or you two just aren't clicking. That's okay. Everybody doesn't click, even relatives!


Try a few new approaches. Prepare and share self-compassion, and this could be your best holiday season ever!



The Lighter Side of Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is my favorite time in all the year

But I must be balanced to enjoy family cheer.


We are all ready to stuff ourselves with plenty of foul

And sit back watching some football with a scream and a howl.


We get a big scoop of cranberry sauce and chunky stuffing

Saving room for the green bean casserole and cornbread muffin.


If your custom is to share at the table all your thanks

Plan your points in advance to avoid aggravating angst.


To top if off could be pumpkin or pecan pie a la mode

Then we're sure to spend hours in line for the family commode.


My dad, sisters, and I used to lie on the floor to digest

Rolling in misery, barely able to move I must confess.


Finally picking myself up from the overeating floor

I escape with my journal to write behind closed door.


Later, it's great to catch up with parents and kids

Uncles and aunts and siblings a smidge.


But endless chitchat can become a bit too much...

Us introverts must be careful not to let the holiday gobble us up.


It's really okay to carve out some downtime

To relax and renew so we can return to shine.


Find a comfortable, cozy little nook

And enjoy a chapter of your favorite book.


Go for a walk to stretch your legs and mind

It's one of the best ways to refresh that you will find.


Escape the house and bring the gang to a park

For open air football or kickball to start.


Build a snowman if you happen to be cold

Or take a nap if, like me, you are getting a bit old.


Friday is shopping for the extroverts to get out and play

So we can enjoy peace and quiet for a few hours that day.


Museums are open throughout the weekend

To stroll through art without have to spend.


Sign up for a 5K Turkey Trot for exercise and peace

Take deep breaths and enjoy the run along fall-colored streets.


If, like me, socializing can be agonizingly hard

Jot down some questions and topics on an index card.


Stash it in your pocket, to be frank

To peek at when your mind starts to go blank.


Find a corner to delve deeper with a small group

To share your list and get the interpersonal scoop.


You can also help cook or wash the dishes for a welcome reprieve

Without always showing your exhaustion on your sleeve.


Just keep in mind Thanksgiving weekend is a marathon not a sprint

So pace yourself with "me" time in between the social bent.


Continue to recharge your battery throughout the day

Small doses of everything are a much better way.


Enjoy the food and family but put YOU on top

So on Thanksgiving weekend won't be so stuffed you flop!


 


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