Holiday Tips for Introverts: When You Want to be Alone But Hate to be Forgotten

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on December 23, 2020

The holiday season is a time to connect with loved ones, but it can be a stressful time for Introverts who are trying to keep up. Getting enough alone time is important to introverted types, but if they’re skipping events to be alone, they often feel a major case of FOMO. So how do you balance the much-needed time to recharge with the demanding social calendar of the holidays? 

If this sounds like you, here are some holiday tips for Introverts who want to be alone but hate feeling left out.

1. Prioritize your alone time  

Don’t fill up your calendar this holiday season. Remember to not only prioritize events you care about, but also to prioritize your “you” time. If you’re afraid you may spread yourself too thin, you aren’t alone. Some introverts of the 16 type system may feel guilty saying ‘no’ to an invitation—especially from their close circle—but it’s important to remember your well-being depends on resetting your batteries. The bottom line is: you aren’t going to have enough energy to enjoy events when you aren’t getting enough time to yourself. If you’re like me, when you’re drained and overstimulated, you’re more likely to appear withdrawn anyway, which isn’t fun for others to be around.

Try to be more selective about events and don’t be afraid to decline invitations. If you feel uncomfortable saying ‘no’ to someone, be honest and tell them you have a limited reserve of energy, and you can’t overbook yourself. Let them know it isn’t personal, but remind them you would still love to join in some other activity with them when you’re feeling up to it. Get another plan in the books as soon as you can, because then you’ll feel less upset about declining.

2. Allow time to take short breaks throughout the day’s activities 

If you’ve ever faked a restroom break to get time to yourself during the holidays, you’re probably like the hundreds of other Introverts who feel guilty for excusing themselves. Introverts may feel the need to stay engaged throughout the day so they don’t miss out on the best moments of the holidays. But the truth is, you don’t need to be present 100 percent of the time. You can agree to an event and break away when you need a quick recharge without coming off as rude. 

The key here is not to apologize or make up excuses, but to be upfront and tell those around you that you’d like a short break. If you let people know you need a breather, they’ll likely be more receptive to it than they would if you said nothing and disappeared throughout the day.

3. Create a pros and cons list to judge which events are worth skipping

It’s hard to avoid feeling an obligation to attend social events with your family—especially if you have persuasive relatives—but sometimes you need to decline. If you’re afraid of missing out on something, make a quick list of pros and cons in your head. Ask yourself if you have the energy to socialize for that block of time. Is the event worth it to you, or will it add to your stress? If you find your list of cons is longer than pros, try asking if there’s something else you can do with them later on. After you’ve had a rest, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to engage again, even if it’s to play a quick board game.

If you approach every activity with an inventory of pros and cons, you’ll find it’s easier to sift through and say no when you need to.

4. Volunteer to help with activities you can do by yourself

If you need a few minutes to yourself, but don’t want to feel like you’re separating yourself, try volunteering to help with things you can do by yourself. The holidays are hectic, and whether you’re the host of your family gathering or not, there’s always some extra chore that needs to be done. This could be making a last-minute trip to the grocery store, cleaning, or setting up last-minute decorations. If someone asks to join you, politely decline and say you’d prefer to do it alone.

Although these activities may not be restful, the break away from everyone else will help you regain your center.

If you do this and find yourself somewhere with a crowd or among overstimulating sights and sounds, take a bit of extra time to yourself once you’re out of that environment. You don’t need to rush back into a social activity if you’ve not yet recovered.

5. Let people know you may leave early

You don’t always need to say no to something you’d like to do because you’re tired. Instead, think about how long you can run the race. Can you keep social for an hour, and then call it done? Whether it’s a virtual event or a face-to-face family gathering, if you say you’ve only got about an hour of energy in you, they won’t feel blindsided when you call it quits earlier than everyone else.

You don’t need to feel obligated to join in when you don’t want to, but if it’s an event you’ll regret missing later, this is an excellent solution.

6. Schedule time alone to meditate or relax before each social gathering

One way to get through the hectic holidays is to take more time for self-care. Time alone is self-care for an Introvert, so implementing a scheduled routine before socializing, and probably after, is a helpful habit. If you’re wondering where you’re going to get this extra time, it doesn’t take much. A minute here, or five there, can change your day.

Consider “borrowing” time from other things throughout the day. For example, try using some of the time you’d use to get ready for an event (e.g. doing your makeup or styling your hair) and shave five to ten minutes off of that. Then, use those extra minutes to center yourself before the event, so you can feel less stressed going into it. It may not sound like a lot, but five to ten minutes of journaling, meditation, or however you unwind can do a lot for your energy levels.


The holidays offer ways for these types to connect with people they’re close to. It’s these close connections that are most important to Introverts, but it’s also important for an Introvert to remember it’s okay to say no when they need some time alone. It isn’t always easy to miss out on activities, but if you make more of an effort to plan your schedule around breaks, offer alternatives, and remain communicative with your loved ones, you can balance alone time and activities throughout the holiday season. The best way to keep the FOMO at bay is to take note of which experiences are most important to you and skip the ones that feel less important, and most of all, remember that your time to yourself is simple self-care.

Cianna Garrison

Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


Lois V. (not verified) says...

What is FOMO?

Cianna Garrison says...

Hi Lois,

Thanks for the comment! FOMO stands for fear of missing out and is typically used for referring to that feeling of anxiety or dread from being left out of things.




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