Renee Winick mug

Renee Winick

We are in the middle of the season of hustle and bustle. So much to do, so much to see, so many things to do in preparation for the holidays. Add in the office parties, dinners with friends, plus family gatherings and you’ve got yourself a calendar that’s jammed packed with fun. That is, if you’re someone who enjoys an abundance of holiday socializing.

As someone who is fairly introverted, I have to say that this time of year can be absolutely exhilarating, but it can also be absolutely exhausting. Here’s a quick refresher on what makes a person an extrovert or introvert.

Extroverts get their energy from the outside world, from being around other people. Introverts get their energy from within themselves, from being alone and recharging their batteries. Extroverts are talkers; introverts are listeners. Extroverts love being in large groups; introverts prefer hanging with one or two close friends. Extroverts can make quick decisions; introverts need to think about things for a while before making a choice.

Introverts sometimes get a bad rap. People envision us as anti-social loners, hiding from the public in our darkened rooms, surrounded by piles of unopened party invitations. That characterization is totally inaccurate. We’re not anti-social, we love spending time with our family and friends! It’s just that we prefer to have a break between events in order to have the energy to fully enjoy these festive get-togethers.

You may be surprised at how many introverts you actually have in your life. Many of us are “introverts in hiding.” When people meet me, they may not automatically think of me as an introvert. I’m a friendly person who greets folks with a smile and can make small talk with the best of them. When I worked in customer service and as a corporate trainer, I used to say that I’m an introvert but I play an extrovert at work. Those closest to me know that I love people, but I love my alone time as well.

I’d expect that a number of people fall somewhere in between the two extremes of extroverts and introverts — a group called ambiverts. Ambiverts show characteristics of both introvert and extrovert. Here is one explanation of the difference between the three: Ambiverts are able to listen while also showing that they understand where a person is coming from. If a friend is having an issue, an extrovert might try to offer a solution right away and an introvert might be great at listening. An ambivert will likely listen and then ask thoughtful questions to try and help.

No matter what your personality type is, it can be tough navigating the craziness of this “extroverted season.” It’s easy to feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions, always busy but not actually getting anything done. Here is a “holiday hack” that introverts have mastered but most others overlook: politely decline. Say no to overbooking yourself and say yes to enjoying the quiet beauty of this season.

The feelings of obligation and guilt can be incredibly difficult to overcome; but sometimes you need to prioritize your mental and physical health over others’ expectations. It’s difficult to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year if your head is throbbing and you’re popping antacids like they’re roasted chestnuts. I’m not suggesting that you blow off your family’s annual Christmas gathering, but maybe you can skip the second work happy hour this month. Or, just stop in for one eggnog and then quietly find the exit.

It’s not just adults that feel the exhaustion that comes from being over scheduled. Our kids may also need to take occasional breaks, even if they don’t want to admit it. Give them permission to decompress every once in a while, and teach them how to listen to their bodies and understand when it’s time to take a step back — or a good nap. That’s a life skill that’s worth is weight in golden rings!

When I started writing this column, it was going to be about how to take care of your introverted friends and family during these busy days; but actually, we all should take special care. Take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle and let your battery recharge every once in a while. In this season that celebrates the gifts of love and peace, remember to give yourself some love and inner peace with that popular, but hard to find gift of time.

Renee Winick has lived in Prior Lake for nearly two decades, where she resides with her husband and twin son and daughter.