Yes… We are here again. The Holidays… (said in my best Eeyore voice) With Christmas quickly approaching, so is the anxiety for your friendly neighborhood empath. What is this ’empath’ you speak of? Well friend, let me break it down for you before we dive in to my own personal survival techniques.
Most of the time, people consider empaths to have this unnatural, almost paranormal, “sixth sense” that allows them to sense and physically feel the emotions around them. For me, this category also includes your introverts, quiet folk, peacekeepers, shy ones, and the Meyers-Briggs INFJs, so this is really for anyone who falls under those labels. We simply have more empathy in our souls than most, and that makes us painfully aware of our surroundings. In other words, you will not find us throwing elbows at your local big box store for a cheap television on Black Friday. I shudder at the thought.
So, that sounds pretty harsh, right? The one time of year when emotions are running at their highest, a little family drama is inevitable, and we are destined to feel every single eye-roll at the depths of our soul. Never fear, my friends. We will survive, and here’s a few tips to keep your tinsel from getting tangled.
1. Avoid guilt-tripping yourself.
Let’s just start off with a big one… Say it with me friends, “I cannot please everyone!” I am from a family with several divorces and remarriages. I have never seen this as a hinderance, but more of, “I just have more people to love me!” And it’s true, but the problem is that I had to teach myself that it is not possible to attend every single family gathering. It is not your fault that time travel hasn’t been invented yet…probably. Do your best to focus on the gathering you have chosen. There’s no use in feeling guilty the entire time you’re at one party because you will likely subconsciously distance yourself from the people you chose to be with. That’s no fun for anyone!
2. Book, but don’t overbook.
Going along with the last tip, you really do need to schedule your holidays to avoid the anxiety that goes along with being pulled from all directions. Decide. Make it known. Stick to it! If you volunteer to bring or make something, plan ahead of time and choose something simple. My husband and I planned the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner a week ahead of time. We ordered our groceries via Walmart Grocery Pick-up* and had them loaded into our car by an employee the Sunday before. It was truly a life saver!
3. Master the art of smalltalk.
Total cringe. Being an empath has made me so incredibly aware of things like awkwardness, mistakes, embarrassment, silence, tension… Trust me. If it’s uncomfortable, I’ll feel it. You really have two options when it comes to smalltalk when you’re not good at it and your BFF isn’t available. One, stick to the most extroverted people in the room. While the conversation can be a little overwhelming, you won’t have to do much talking. Just listen and be present. Now, if for some reason the extroverted people are engaged in a conversation or activity you don’t want to be a part of and you’re stuck with awkward, quiet cousin Bob, remember that there’s a good chance he feels the same way you do. Instead of focusing on how YOU feel, try making it your goal to make Bob feel more comfortable. Ask questions. People love to talk about their hobbies. Find out what they are and become genuinely interested in learning more. Even if something might not sound cool to you, it might mean the world to cousin Bob and this is the quickest way to give people the opportunity to open up. If cousin Bob’s quietness isn’t wavering, it’s ok embrace it in silence. Somehow our society has decided that silence is awkward. Personally, I am a firm believer that can be beautiful too. It all depends on your perception!
4. Don’t be afraid to step away for a moment.
I am the QUEEN of sneaking off for a moment at holiday gatherings. My head will often become a jumbled mess, and I can’t even speak if I don’t take a breather from a crowd. I have learned over the years that this is totally fine because it’s what my mental health requires. While the family is playing a crazy party game that sounds like pure torture to your quiet soul, go grab a slice of Mema’s semi-famous coconut creme pie, bundle up if it’s cold, and head to the porch for a few moments. Take a walk. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to (guilty), but one way or another, give yourself a few moments of peace. Your brain will thank you later.
5. Do something for YOU!
If you don’t take away anything else from this post, please consider this most… People will tell you the holidays are about family right? While I do agree, I also believe that the holidays are also about love, appreciation, and peace. You deserve all of these things, even if it’s coming from yourself. For real… Treat yourself! Have a favorite menu item that you decided not to make because you’re afraid no one else likes it? So what?! Make it anyway. You might be surprised at who might like it, and remember that even if it is a bust with your friends and family, you get to take home all the leftovers! Feel as though you have nothing to wear? Find a new-to-you outfit. Even if you don’t feel like you have the money to purchase something brand new, check out your local thrift stores for a deal, or ask a friend if you can borrow something fun! Still dreading gathering because you know you’ll be drained afterwards? Set aside some time to do an activity you love that very same day, even it means you need to leave a little early.
Friends, if you’ve paid attention, you’ve probably noticed that there’s really one common trait amongst all my tips. Focus on controlling your thoughts and actions instead of focusing on how you feel. Emotions are a wonderful thing, but sometimes they can get the best of us. Especially for those of us who not only feel our own feelings, but the feelings of others as well. The holidays are absolutely the most emotional time of the year, and our environment can truly be overwhelming. I hope that I was able to give you a few tips to help you survive the chaos, but if not, please don’t be afraid to open up to a friend about your concerns. Remember, you deserve love, appreciation, and peace, and I hope you are able to not only survive, but thrive this holiday season!
*Note: This post is not sponsored but by clicking “Walmart Grocery Pick-Up” in the text above, my friends and family can save $10 on their first pick-up order of $50 or more (pre-tax)! Walmart does all the in-store shopping. It’s so easy! You place your order online, pull up to a specially marked parking spot after scheduling a time for pick-up, and an associate will load the groceries your vehicle! How awesome is that?!