Why I’m Not Losing It This Holiday Season: How One Introvert Beat Christmas Burnout

holiday stress management snowman

This is the time of year when I usually white knuckle it through jam packed days filled with holiday preparations and obligations. This is when I usually sleep erratically and smile minimally. This time of year is a push for me. It often feels like have to instead of want to, which makes me sad. It’s supposed to be joyous and celebratory. Because all three of my children have birthdays around the holidays and my extended family is far away, this season becomes a time of intense scheduling and infinite details.  As I mentioned in my last post, Intuition, Feeling, Men, Myers-Briggs and Snowblowers, intense scheduling and details wear me out. The logical and step by step section of my brain must kick it up a notch around this time of year, which is a nice challenge, but also an energy drain.

But this year feels different.

I still have all of the normal expectations to meet (shopping, wrapping, shipping, holiday cards, baking) plus a few added bonus stressors — financial uncertainty (house still for sale), one relationship softly ended and a steady stream of household repairs — but somehow it’s all good. I’m relaxed and enjoying the ride.

Why I’m not losing it this holiday season

1. I took a class doing something I love. As crazy as it was to schedule a week-long training session during the month of December, it was also a huge energy boost. I attended and completed certification ChristmasVactionHousetraining to become a Myers-Briggs practitioner. The instructor, fellow classmates and subject matter all lit up my curious mind like the Griswold’s house. I’m still pumped as I order training materials and think about all the ways I can apply this new knowledge. I get to help people gain awareness and validation about their personality type! I get to help people honor their temperaments and enhance their relationships and I have the tools and comforting structure to do it thanks to decades of research and application by Myers-Briggs. Learning and gaining competence do wonders for the spirit.

2. I asked for help. The somewhat new responsibility of clearing the driveway of snow is intimidating to me. Last year I shoveled my way through the regular dumpings of snow so true to Minnesnowta. I also felt my heart sink every time the forecast called for more than three inches of accumulation. This year I was pro-active and bought a snowblower to make life easier (?). The only problem — I was scared of the damn thing. I had no idea how to maintain and work it. I had to purchase a decent-sized (read: not  simple) one because my driveway is large enough to require it. Machines are concrete and logical and require deep concentration for me to understand. I would have to meticulously digest the owner’s manual and then pray all went as it should. I envisioned hours of apprehension and comprehension, not to mention the logistics of getting it bought and safely home. So I bit the bullet and deferred to my friends for help. One female friend helped me with what type to buy. One male friend went with me to be testosterone in the room when I purchased the snowblower. One other male friend actually made it fun to learn about and use the machine. He was like a kid with a new Lego set or a BB gun – all geeked about the engine and beast-like snow throwing capabilities. His enthusiasm was contagious. At one point we stood shoulder to shoulder in my garage staring at the Craftsman machine like it was a piece of art. He empowered me by showing me the ins and outs of how it works and then turning me loose on the driveway. I messed up and shot a load of snow all over the side of the house/windows/lights but instead of getting frustrated I laughed. I left the misplaced snow there because I think it’s funny and we should laugh at ineptitude occasionally. Again, competence and learning are a healthy rush I highly recommend.

3. I changed my diet. I haven’t eaten cereal in over two months!! In my mind I am imagining its heavenly texture and satisfying consistency right now, oh god I love Kashi, but I can abstain because I feel so much better without it. I have reduced, by more than half, the number of simple carbohydrates I ingest daily. I have added protein (turkey, chicken, BACON, eggs), good fats (butter, avocados, nuts, coconut oil) and vegetables (particularly greens) to my daily menus. I feel more alert and my energy doesn’t wane as much throughout the day. I also take more supplements now — primarily ones focused on mood balance and energy restoration, so amino acids like tryptophan and omega 3s (fish oil). I have a cup of tea every yogi teaafternoon. My favorite tea is by Yogi and has an ingredient called L-theanine in it which promotes calm focus. Perfect! I am working on all of this with a trained/certified nutritionist.  I don’t recommend you go out and figure this all out yourself. Your health is crazy important and highly individualized.

I want to give you one example of how what I eat has affected my well-being.  I started wrapping presents the other night at 10 o’clock.  I told myself I was only going to do a few because it was already late. I got into a complete zone, watched two episodes of Mad Men and finished all my wrapping, even the tiny little gifts that go in stockings. Afterwards I felt soothingly energized. Normally, a set up like that would have left me worn out and crabby.

4. I sleep better. I believe the supplement I take before bedtime (another amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter) promotes a relaxed mind and muscles. I have also been practicing a form of meditation when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning.  It’s simply breathing techniques and a clearing of my mind. Sleep is a miraculous elixir. Like a magician who removes knots from handkerchiefs without touching them, sleep removes the knots in my mind without my consciousness. I always find resolution and peace in the morning after a solid night’s sleep. Quite often ideas and answers come to me as I emerge from the haze of sleep.

I hope this trend continues.  I kinda like this joyous stuff.;)

How do you deal with the commotion of Christmas? Do you have any introvert strategies? 

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How To Be Lively, Energetic and Vibrant When Your True Nature Is Thoughtful, Introverted and Reticent

While looking up synonyms for energyI discovered what I have desired my whole life…

VITALITY.

Vibrancy, spirit, liveliness.

People with vitality are magnetic, exuberant and passionate.  They have oomph, moxie and verve.  They are leaders. They are adventurous. They can do anything.

Unless you are a member of my inner circle or tossed back a few with me in my 20s, then you most likely would not picture me when pondering the words vivacious, exuberant, or bubbly. I tend to hang back and listen in a group.  I am not quick on my feet with witty rapport.  I digest information and report back later. I don’t bop up and down with bursting enthusiasm (much). I love adventure but am dedicated to responsibilities. I’m happy reading a book for hours. I’ll feel every note of a song but would feel absolutely naked and nervous on stage as a musician. I have many friends but often feel sheepish about my inability to keep up with effusive emails and frequent texts.

In short, I am an introvert.  I genuinely like myself.

But I still wish to be more lively, vibrant and full of energy.

How to do that?

I’ve been doing research (consciously and subconsciously) on this question for years.  I have found  six ways to create extroverted energy, enthusiasm and even effusiveness.

6 Paths to Vibrancy and Big Energy

1. Fitness: I see all of you rolling your eyes. No lectures, just personal experience here.

Hours on the treadmill dogging it are not going to make you sparkle, but challenging yourself and surviving are. I was fortunate enough to have my @ss kicked by a personal trainer for over a year. He pushed me. I fatigued, wanted to throw up and darn near peed my pants during some of our sessions. But I got stronger. Developed agility. Gained confidence in my body.

My trainer also talked me into running (which I never dreamed I could do).  I am more Clydesdale than graceful deer but I love the zone I enter when running. Ideas and daydreams bubble up as my feet pound the ground.  For introverts I highly recommend personal training (one on one or small groups for maximum comfort levels) and running (can be a solitary or group pursuit and truly revs up the creative juices).

I actually look forward to working out because I know the glow I will have afterward.  I know my fitness allows me to  move quickly and easily with kinetic energy. I feel alive, lively even.

2. Diet: You are what you eat, right?  Do you want to be a lifeless pile of mashed potatoes or a lean springy string bean?  We all have our feelings and attachments to food.  I love Cool-Whip and big wavy noodles (not together).

Five years ago I picked up a book called The Good Mood Diet.  It changed the way I eat.  I

Photo credit: Yougrowgirl.com

learned that food affects mood and energy levels.  I now consume food in combinations that will prolong my energy and make me pleasant to be around.  For example, if I desire to eat a heap of wavy noodles (and who doesn’t?), I  know to cut the carbohydrates with protein, so I  throw in some chicken or  a scrambled egg. Big tip: eggs and fish are brain food. Consume them and feed all the happy places in your grey matter. Eat a bag of jelly beans and become inert and crabby an hour later.  The exact opposite of bubbly and effervescent.

3. See Value in Your Traits: Stop beating yourself up about what you are not or what you can’t handle.  Focus on where you shine.  Growing up I often felt like I was less than enough because I wasn’t as confident and popular as my sister.  I wasn’t as magnetic as my father. No one showed me the value in my strong listening and observation skills.  No one gave me an award for intuition or a rich inner life.  Honestly, I didn’t even really appreciate my intuition and imagination because I thought everyone possessed the same, if not more, depth.
A weight was lifted from my shoulders when I realized 25 – 50% of the population are like me.  They gain energy from within.  I have the deepest gratitude for Marti Olsen Laney and her book The Introvert Advantage and for Susan Cain and her recent bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  They make it clear that an independent nature is valuable and that a few deeply fostered relationships are worth as much as hundreds of acquaintances.  Most of all I learned I am not alone in the introspective universe.  I can connect with other inwardly focused individuals. I can be useful to those who need help filtering or making space in their life to find meaning.
Once you see the value in your temperament, the world is your oyster.  That is crazy exciting!  Excitement is grand energy.
4. Work You Love: Ever notice how you skip down the office corridor or stay up until the wee hours of the morning when you immerse yourself in a project that lights up your whole being?
We can and do act out of character in the service of  ‘core personal projects.’
~ Susan Cain
I know you are probably sick to death of everyone touting the, Do what you love! mantra. Easier said than done.  Time is a factor.  Money is another.  Maybe you don’t know yourself well enough to know what fuels your soul.  All valid arguments.  But I’d like to go on record saying that you cannot afford NOT to invest in a dream or passion.
4 key elements to finding and tasting bliss – Pay attention. Reflect. Evolve. Take action.
Pay attention to what makes your heart leap and time melt as well as what makes your stomach tighten or your shoulders tense.  Reflect on what gave you great amusement in the past. What memories make your face soften and your eyes twinkle?  Use your (budding) self-awareness to grow.  To conquer fears and learn from mistakes.  Lastly, move forward. Change is quick but fighting change is a LONG slow process. According to Jonathon Fields of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, there is no sideways in life.  Sideways eventually leads to being behind.
Space2live is all about creating time and self-awareness so that you can experience moving, ballistic, joy. Amazing vibrance comes with that.

5. Surround Yourself with Spirited People: This does not mean that all your friends can do backflips or play ten minute guitar solos on stage.  This means orbit around folks with inner lights.  The ones who get all geeked about their latest discovery.  The ones who know themselves and feel comfortable in their own rumpled jeans.  These people are better than caffeine.  They don’t have to have the same temperament as you either.  Mix it up – introverts, extroverts, ambiverts = all good.  Hint: Look in places where you feel at home.
Truly life-enhancing companions will draw out your gifts as they practice their own.
My bet is that once you find this kind of tribe you will want to chatter away.  You’ll have to hold yourself back so you don’t monopolize the floor. You’ll be effusive and bubbly all over the place.
6. Music: A short note about the power of music.  Introverts seem to be extra sensitive to art and music. Although, performing musically might rattle me, listening to it is nirvana.  It never fails to lift my mood.  Marianne Williamson once said that musicians are like priests as they put everyone in the room on the same heartbeat.  Scientifically, it has been proven that levels of dopamine increase when people listen to music they enjoy.  A real rush. Who hasn’t went a little bonkers at a concert?
Music can motivate you during a workout. Health clubs have figured out members burn more calories during cardio classes when there is a real drummer playing during the workout.  Music is a trigger for more energy. More vitality.
Although I have desired more vitality my whole life, I can truthfully say that I have never felt more energy-filled than I do now.  I have employed the above elements.  I don’t bounce off the walls (most days) but I do have a consistent source of warm, vibrant energy to draw from. I can lead.  I make my own adventures and I feel like I can do anything.
What gives you a burst of liveliness?  When was the last time you were effervescent?  What would you do with boundless energy?
 Further Reading: