How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Highly Sensitive (or just exhausted) Person

by | Nov 21, 2023 | Burnout, Highly Sensitive Person, Holidays, Thanksgiving | 0 comments

Surviving Thanksgiving when you’re tired or highly sensitive

 

It’s Thanksgiving time, and that means family, food, and friends. It also can contribute to overwhelm for those of us who are highly sensitive to physical, emotional, or social stimuli–or are just exhausted and burned out from the rush to get things done. It might also be that holidays bring up big emotions for you, and you just don’t have the energy to cope.

 

“It seems my heart is made of tissue paper. I wish the world would handle it more delicately.” –Richelle E. Goodrich

 

The good news is that there are a few changes you can make to create a more simple, cozy, and low-key holiday for yourself.

 

Simple but meaningful

If you’re like most folks, holidays come with glitter and grandeur, which can be overwhelming for HSPs. Remember: Simple can also be meaningful. Rituals and traditions can be quiet but impactful. Create a “holiday mission statement,” and use that to figure out your planning and priorities.

Suggestion: Think of all the activities and traditions you typically plan during the holidays. What are the meanings behind them? Can you still create the same meaning with something less busy and exhausting?

 

yellow lab snoozes on a comfy bed with an ecru blanket and pillow

Set realistic expectations

You can’t be everything for everyone. Write that on a post it and hang it somewhere you can see it! Burning yourself out doesn’t make the holidays fun for you or for anyone else. And doing things you don’t enjoy only drains you. Finally, accept that things do go off the rails sometimes, and that’s ok. It’s how you cope (or even just noticing that they’re off the rails at all) that matters.

Suggestion: Ask yourself some honest questions. When am I most burned out during the holidays? What activities give me life, energy, and joy–can I add more of those and less of the ones that drain me? Who matters to me in my life? Have I built in some downtime? 

 

Find your people

People who are highly sensitive often feel misunderstood or told they’re “overreacting.” Seek out loved ones who understand your sensitivity (or invite a buddy who does). And if you’re a family member of an HSP, learn more about it.  

Suggestion: It’s important to communicate your needs to your loved ones and to be heard when you do so. Find your supportive advocate to help you run interference, if needed. And limit your time with relatives who create a toxic environment. There’s no law that says you HAVE to spend every moment with everyone. 

 

Give yourself permission

You are your own authority! Give yourself permission to say no, to leave early, to shop online rather than do the whole Black Friday extravaganza, to be gentle with yourself, and to eat foods you love because they bring joy and create memories.

Suggestion: We sometimes fall into old habits and scripts during the holidays, becoming younger versions of ourselves and letting others set our agendas. You are an adult, and you are the authority of your own life. Be kind but clear in setting your boundaries, and don’t forget to safeguard your downtime. 

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