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Surviving Christmas – advice from an introvert

14 December 2018


The Christmas party season can be hard going, especially for introverts. As part of our ‘Wellness at Work’ series, we asked Georgina Chui of Octopus Energy Investments to share some of her tips on how to make the most of the festivities. 

Are you excited for Christmas or are you already tired of the never-ending versions of ‘All I want for Christmas is You’?

The most wonderful time of the year?

For someone like me, who is quite introverted, all the Christmas parties and festivities are a significant drain on my overall energy. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that everyone is cheery during this time of year. It is because they are likely taking a long break away from work.

Party season can be draining

I have just survived my team and office-wide Christmas parties. Our team is roughly 60 people and I know them relatively well, so I didn’t have to engage in any dreaded ‘small talk’. On the other hand, the office-wide Octopus Christmas party, featuring more than 700 people, was very different. I did not try to engage with anyone I didn’t know. Not very festive, but it was just too overwhelming.

After these two parties, I was thinking – surely, there must be something on the internet that might be able to provide some helpful tips to help manage the festive season.

I have a few family events coming up, which I am dreading. I love my family dearly but there is quite a few of us. They can also be quite energetic, whereby I end up crashing and burning. I am sure that there have been a few occasions where I have just broken down and cried, because I was so tired from the interactions. Note, I do not drink alcohol so I couldn’t really drink my problems away… (also, probably not the best advice either!).

Introverts get a raw deal at Christmas 

I was seriously disappointed by the internet search results and I think that is a reflection of how introverts do not get the recognition they deserve. I completely agree with Susan Cain that society today is completely geared towards extroverts and that introverts need to find our own voices! Alas, this is a discussion for another day.

While on Instagram, I found the below comic strip by @lizandmollie and I thought it was a great summary of what introverts end up doing at parties. My boyfriend would often be hiding in the kitchen having an in-depth conversation of his latest pursuits, or other worldly matters with one individual. I often like to hide in the bathroom or play with the pet (if there is one). Are any of you introverts – what do you do to recharge at parties?

My top five tips for introverts to survive Christmas

Having trawled through some suggestions and blogs from the internet, here is a summary of (hopefully helpful tips) to survive this festive season!

Tip 1: plan ahead

I think information is key, I am much better at parties when I know what to expect. For example, I helped to plan our team’s Christmas party, so I knew exactly who will be there, and generally what to expect of the night. 

Being an event organiser also meant I could excuse myself from conversations when I needed to, by acting like something else required my urgent attention. I still I really try and avoid parties where I do not know anyone, and I much prefer to have at least one or two friends with me at all social gatherings. I also love dancing, so if I know that there will be good music, I would happily just dance the night away. In addition, this involves minimal conversations with others!

Tip 2: arrive armed with small talk

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to make ‘small talk’, prepare a list of ‘open’ questions beforehand; and choose a single person to speak to rather than a group. This is much easier, and I find if you direct lots of questions to the individual so that they can talk about themselves (people love talking about themselves) you end up listening more rather than having to disclose anything about yourself.

Tip 3: Take time out

As suggested above in the comic, make sure you build time for a break/recovery. This does not have to be long but make sure it is enough for you. Interacting with people takes a lot of mental energy and stamina, so try and find space in a quiet corner; probably in the kitchen, bathroom or even outside for some fresh air.

Tip 4: Don’t overindulge with alcohol

I know, I know. It is Christmas, and booze is what Christmas is all about and most people use it as a ‘social lubricant’. I personally do not think it is a good idea. This situation often leads to an individual losing control, and personally, this often causes even more anxiety!

Tip 5: Always have an exit strategy

This links to my first tip: make sure you have a good exit strategy! I have planned ahead in the past, where I let the host be aware that you would love to attend the party but would be unable to stay late because of a ‘deadline’ or ‘other commitments’ early the following day. Perfect excuse and managing expectations too! Just in time to back to your cosy bed for some peace and quiet.

I hope my tips work for you!

You can read more from Georgina in her personal blog.