This week Maria Hill of hsphealth offered a list of things highly sensitive people could do to avoid over-stimulation and exhaustion during the holiday season. She suggested taking care of your health, prioritizing commitments, shopping early and journaling among other things. It’s a great list anyone, HSP or not, would benefit from reading.
I would add one more suggestion to the list that is implied but no one ever offers it as an option:
You can opt out of the holidays. You can opt out of just the parties. Or just shopping for gifts and exchanging them. Or family dinners. Or all of it. It’s the best way to avoid over-stimulation. Opting out isn’t exhausting. It’s what you do before you get exhausted.
The best way to enjoy the holidays is to realize you can opt-in and opt-out of whatever you want.
Don’t you think everyone gets overwhelmed because of this unspoken rule that you can’t opt-out? Or you shouldn’t? That the holidays and everything surrounding it isn’t optional? That it’s something you endure? Well, I’m saying it: you can opt-out.
The truth is if you’re an adult you can opt-out of anything you want to. I’m not saying it’s consequence-free but what is?
The other great thing about adulthood is you can opt-into traditions you create. Traditions you create never feel like obligations. I think it’s impossible to be overstimulated having fun you organize.
I created this holiday tradition where I spend Christmas alone, no gifts, no tree, no Christmas songs, bingeing on food, food, and more food and binge-watching some TV series. I don’t do it every year. Some years I opt-into my perfect Christmas and other years I opt-in to other obligations that involve other people. I started enjoying spending time with other people at Christmas as soon as I knew I could have fun created by me and only had by me. I started not to feel looming overwhelm as December approached because I knew I could opt-out at any time.
Immerse yourself in the holiday traditions and do the things Maria suggests to prevent yourself from being overstimulated and exhausted. Or don’t do them. At the very least remember you have a choice.