The Introvert’s Guide to Surviving a Houseful of People

published Dec 15, 2014
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(Image credit: Andrea Sparacio)

As much as we welcome extended visits with family and friends, many introverts can attest to the fact that sometimes the nonstop noise and people stimulation can be draining — regardless of how much we love our loved ones and enjoy being with them. Sometimes we need to catch a breather or we find ourselves running on empty. Here are a few tips on how to recharge if you get your energy from being alone (but you are currently surrounded by people).

Get out of the house.

You might need to get out of the house to get some time to yourself, and that’s fine. Slip out for a walk or volunteer to run an errand, like picking up some extra half-and-half or a box of pastries for the household! Be mindful of the fact that others who may not share your propensity for alone time might offer to go with you and that your response should be both kind and clear, something like, “Oh thanks so much, but I could really use some personal time. Let’s have a cup of tea together when I get back, though.” But don’t insist. Rebuffs that lead to hurt feelings are definitely not worth a few minutes alone.

Get up early.

If you really need some time at home (particularly your own home) without having to attend to others’ needs or listen to any noises, you may have to rise before everyone else. While getting up early could be hard, having that peaceful time in the morning will go a long way in making you a more pleasant and recharged person for the day so you have more to give those around you.

Put on some headphones.

Sometimes the only way to avoid outside stimulation is to retreat into your own little world for a bit, even in the midst of other people. Again, be extremely mindful that this type of action could be construed as rude and standoffish. Communicate your intentions to those around you with something like, “So sorry to put my headphones in, but I’m just going to take care of something without distraction for about twenty minutes,” and chances are no one will be offended.

Be flexible.

Especially when we’re spending valuable time with loved ones we aren’t always with, we need to be flexible. Realize that while our own needs being met often helps us be our best, sometimes we need to put our needs aside, stretch our hearts and our capacities, and be our most generous selves even when we aren’t able to recharge. Particularly when it comes to gatherings made possible by the holidays, the time is temporary and soon we’ll all be back to our own routines, quiet alone time and all. All this is to say that sometimes people like me just need to look on the bright side and be mindful of enjoying — to the fullest — what’s right in front of us.

Re-edited from a post originally published 12.19.14-NT