Holidays are a time for creating beautiful memories.
But for Highly Sensitives, holidays can sometimes be challenging.
Not just because 70% of HSPs are introverts and holidays are a time for celebrating and socializing.
But even for the 30% of HSPs who are extroverts, too many social events can be draining.
Feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and anxious is not how we want to remember our holidays, though, right?
We want to enjoy the holidays, and we want others to enjoy themselves.
So here are eight holiday hacks for Highly Sensitives.
1. Turning down invitations – politely.
Be picky about what invitations you accept and which ones you decline politely.
One way to politely decline? “Thank you for thinking of me. I appreciate it. I can’t make it this year, but I’d love to get together with you to catch up after the holidays.”
Other ways to respond? “Thank you for thinking of me. I’d love to be there but can’t.” Or, “Wish I could, but it’s not possible for me to make it.”
Please respond to the invitation as soon as possible, so they have time to invite someone else.
2. Scheduling downtime.
Holidays are a time when we can find ourselves rushing around to meet with family and friends.
Often, we can become overwhelmed if we don’t limit how much time we’re spending around others or in highly stimulating environments.
One way to avoid overwhelm is to make sure your day is padded with extra time (however much time you feel you need) to decompress between activities and during activities.
If you have a busy few days scheduled, make sure to schedule an “upkeep” day the day after your “busy” days where you can focus on relaxing, decompressing, and enjoying your time.
3. Setting realistic expectations for yourself.
Consider how you’ve felt after the holidays in the past.
As yourself these key questions;
- Have you felt burnt out after the holidays?
- Did you enjoy yourself?
- Whose company did you enjoy?
- Did you have enough time to connect with the people who matter to you?
- Did you have enough time to decompress during and after the holidays?
Once you do this, you can decide how you spend your time, focusing on quality time, not quantity.
It’s about spending less time doing activities you don’t enjoy and more time doing activities you enjoy with the people who matter the most to you.
4. Setting realistic expectations for others.
Does your significant other expect you to spend the day and evening with their family?
Do your parents expect you to visit with their friends for extended periods?
Do your children expect you to be engaged with them non-stop over the holidays?
Take some time ahead of time to talk with them about what you feel you can realistically participate in without stretching yourself too thin.
You can also suggest activities like playing board games instead of going to the mall or spending some quality time outdoors with them instead of cooped up in a house.
5. Keeping your routine (as much as possible).
While a holiday can entice us to ignore the routines that keep us balanced the rest of the year, it’s important we stick with them as much as we can.
Exercising, sticking to our sleeping schedule, drinking enough water, and eating healthy, are all ways we can stay balanced during the holidays.
Keeping as much to your routine as possible makes it easier for you to get back into your routine after the holidays.
6. Limiting sweets and caffeine.
The holidays are a time for sweets and caffeine in all forms.
But for a Highly Sensitive nervous system, too many of these stimulants can be the difference between enjoying ourselves or not.
Try passing over that sweet tray for the veggie tray and see how you feel.
You can always find healthy, natural treats to satisfy your sweet tooth.
7. Staying connected to your breath.
We automatically and naturally notice everything in our environment, but this can cause us to forget to pay attention to how we’re feeling.
Set up a vibrating alarm on your phone to remind yourself to check in with your breath.
When your alarm vibrates, check your breathing. If it’s shallow, it’s a sign you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
You can quickly remedy this by slowly taking in deep breaths (through your nose) and exhaling (through your nose) for ten breaths.
You may want to experiment with this strategy and try it at the moment, and later by removing yourself from the environment for 5-10 minutes to breathe deeply. See which one works better for you.
8. Noticing loud environments.
We expect the holidays to be loud, festive events, but as Highly Sensitives, we don’t often consider how overstimulating this is for our nervous system.
There are ways you can mitigate this, though.
You could politely ask to lower the music volume, or you can limit how long you stay in that environment, and while in that environment, you can take “quiet” breaks.
We can summarize this list of eight hacks into skills we can practice; communicating, negotiating, advocating for what you need, setting boundaries, scheduling, and paying attention to your body and breath.
We may need more practice in any of these areas.
And while there’s no getting it “perfect,” the goal is about practicing creating as many positive environments and moments as we can.
Have you tried any of these hacks? Did they make your holidays more enjoyable?