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Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

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THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
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For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
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During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
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what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
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Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
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Why I’m Not Losing It This Holiday Season: How One Introvert Beat Christmas Burnout

holiday stress management snowman

This is the time of year when I usually white knuckle it through jam packed days filled with holiday preparations and obligations. This is when I usually sleep erratically and smile minimally. This time of year is a push for me. It often feels like have to instead of want to, which makes me sad. It’s supposed to be joyous and celebratory. Because all three of my children have birthdays around the holidays and my extended family is far away, this season becomes a time of intense scheduling and infinite details.  As I mentioned in my last post, Intuition, Feeling, Men, Myers-Briggs and Snowblowers, intense scheduling and details wear me out. The logical and step by step section of my brain must kick it up a notch around this time of year, which is a nice challenge, but also an energy drain.

But this year feels different.

I still have all of the normal expectations to meet (shopping, wrapping, shipping, holiday cards, baking) plus a few added bonus stressors — financial uncertainty (house still for sale), one relationship softly ended and a steady stream of household repairs — but somehow it’s all good. I’m relaxed and enjoying the ride.

Why I’m not losing it this holiday season

1. I took a class doing something I love. As crazy as it was to schedule a week-long training session during the month of December, it was also a huge energy boost. I attended and completed certification ChristmasVactionHousetraining to become a Myers-Briggs practitioner. The instructor, fellow classmates and subject matter all lit up my curious mind like the Griswold’s house. I’m still pumped as I order training materials and think about all the ways I can apply this new knowledge. I get to help people gain awareness and validation about their personality type! I get to help people honor their temperaments and enhance their relationships and I have the tools and comforting structure to do it thanks to decades of research and application by Myers-Briggs. Learning and gaining competence do wonders for the spirit.

2. I asked for help. The somewhat new responsibility of clearing the driveway of snow is intimidating to me. Last year I shoveled my way through the regular dumpings of snow so true to Minnesnowta. I also felt my heart sink every time the forecast called for more than three inches of accumulation. This year I was pro-active and bought a snowblower to make life easier (?). The only problem — I was scared of the damn thing. I had no idea how to maintain and work it. I had to purchase a decent-sized (read: not  simple) one because my driveway is large enough to require it. Machines are concrete and logical and require deep concentration for me to understand. I would have to meticulously digest the owner’s manual and then pray all went as it should. I envisioned hours of apprehension and comprehension, not to mention the logistics of getting it bought and safely home. So I bit the bullet and deferred to my friends for help. One female friend helped me with what type to buy. One male friend went with me to be testosterone in the room when I purchased the snowblower. One other male friend actually made it fun to learn about and use the machine. He was like a kid with a new Lego set or a BB gun – all geeked about the engine and beast-like snow throwing capabilities. His enthusiasm was contagious. At one point we stood shoulder to shoulder in my garage staring at the Craftsman machine like it was a piece of art. He empowered me by showing me the ins and outs of how it works and then turning me loose on the driveway. I messed up and shot a load of snow all over the side of the house/windows/lights but instead of getting frustrated I laughed. I left the misplaced snow there because I think it’s funny and we should laugh at ineptitude occasionally. Again, competence and learning are a healthy rush I highly recommend.

3. I changed my diet. I haven’t eaten cereal in over two months!! In my mind I am imagining its heavenly texture and satisfying consistency right now, oh god I love Kashi, but I can abstain because I feel so much better without it. I have reduced, by more than half, the number of simple carbohydrates I ingest daily. I have added protein (turkey, chicken, BACON, eggs), good fats (butter, avocados, nuts, coconut oil) and vegetables (particularly greens) to my daily menus. I feel more alert and my energy doesn’t wane as much throughout the day. I also take more supplements now — primarily ones focused on mood balance and energy restoration, so amino acids like tryptophan and omega 3s (fish oil). I have a cup of tea every yogi teaafternoon. My favorite tea is by Yogi and has an ingredient called L-theanine in it which promotes calm focus. Perfect! I am working on all of this with a trained/certified nutritionist.  I don’t recommend you go out and figure this all out yourself. Your health is crazy important and highly individualized.

I want to give you one example of how what I eat has affected my well-being.  I started wrapping presents the other night at 10 o’clock.  I told myself I was only going to do a few because it was already late. I got into a complete zone, watched two episodes of Mad Men and finished all my wrapping, even the tiny little gifts that go in stockings. Afterwards I felt soothingly energized. Normally, a set up like that would have left me worn out and crabby.

4. I sleep better. I believe the supplement I take before bedtime (GABA an amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter) promotes a relaxed mind and muscles. I have also been practicing a form of meditation when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning.  Think of three ‘wins’ you had that day — anything small or big that gave you a boost in mood and then think of three wins you anticipate happening for the next day. I owe this little exercise to Jeff Walker. It’s his idea. Sleep is a miraculous elixir. Like a magician who removes knots from handkerchiefs without touching them, sleep removes the knots in my mind without my consciousness. I always find resolution and peace in the morning after a solid night’s sleep. Quite often ideas and answers come to me as I emerge from the haze of sleep.

I hope this trend continues.  I kinda like this joyous stuff.;)

How do you deal with the commotion of Christmas? Do you have any introvert strategies? 

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12 Comments

  1. Kristen January 2, 2014 at 10:35 am - Reply

    I’m so curious to know how you use your new Meyers Briggs training and certification. I attended a weeklong class about M-B types at work once that not only told us what type we were but went in great detail about how all the different personality types see the world/interact and how to identify a person’s type by just observing their behavior. I found it absolutely fascinating and was buzzing with intellectual simulation for weeks, so much so that I considered pursuing the certification too but the thought of using it as our instructor did to teach a class full of people for a whole week made my introverted self nervous. Looking forward to hearing about what you do.

    • Brenda Knowles January 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      Well, I’m figuring it out as I go. To start I’ve been practicing by giving the assessment to my friends and family and then interpreting their results with them. I know I want to work with individuals and couples in the beginning. I also think working with parent/child relationships would be interesting, particularly where the two types are dramatically different. Perhaps someday I’ll aspire to workshops and classrooms (after I’ve collected lots of experience and feel uber prepared;).
      Drop me a line in a few months and ask me where I am with my Myers-Briggs aspirations. It will keep me accountable. I would love to share any progress with you.

  2. amy frillici December 22, 2013 at 11:07 am - Reply

    I love this post, bren :). I’m so glad to hear you’re in a good place this year :).

    • Brenda Knowles December 23, 2013 at 11:21 am - Reply

      I’m in a good place. I am easing up on myself and trying to learn how to work with and respect those in my life who are (very) different from me. So far the key is to not allow others to make or break my happiness. I have to spearhead my own life. Hope you are in a happy healthy place Amy. I think of you so often.:)

  3. Cate Moore December 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    I love your writing, Brenda..have since the minute I landed on your site. It is honest and refreshing and teaches me about a healthy appreciation for things I don’t always understand. You have taught me to be curious instead of frustrated. What a gift. Thank you. xo

    • Brenda Knowles December 23, 2013 at 10:57 am - Reply

      I learn from you too, which makes our connection so cool! I love how you said I’ve taught you to be curious instead of frustrated. I haven’t thought of it like that before. That’s a great mantra. Be curious, not frustrated.:)
      I also love the beautiful way you express yourself in words and images. Inspiring. Happy holidays dear Cate.

  4. LB December 21, 2013 at 7:29 am - Reply

    Well I’m glad your snowblower adventure ended happily!

    I can identify with your white knuckles, minimal smiles and erratic sleep at this time of year. I intensely dislike this season and I always have. First of all, I’m Jewish, so the religious holiday has no meaning to me at all. And the secular holiday positively makes me ill. I dropped out of it probably 15 years ago, after being married to a Catholic, raising my kids with it, and going through all those stresses you talked about for years. No more packed schedules, no more gift shopping/wrapping, no more baking, no more decorating, and absolutely no more parties. I will make one family visit, keep it very low key, and that’s it. It has been very freeing.

    I will also applaud you for your new food choices. Wonderful to get all the junk out of your diet isn’t it? I’ve been eating that way for years. I did not take your advice and consult a nutritionist, but did it on my own, with careful experimentation to see what worked and what didn’t. I haven’t eaten cereal or pasta in a very long time. I eat minimal breads and rice and get most of my carbs from veggies and fruit. I love how you capitalized BACON! One of my favorite foods! BACON! and eggs! and butter! I am laughing with glee 🙂 Unfortunately, I am having a hard time this season because of various personal stressors that I won’t go into here. I am eating emotionally and being reminded daily of the lessons I should have already learned: eating crap makes me feel like.. well… crap. I will get past it. At least I know what’s happening and that’s the first step in the battle, isn’t it? (Writing about it helps too, thank you for reading)

    Next step, work on the sleep. You wouldn’t want to be a little more specific about that supplement you take at bedtime, would you?

  5. David Kanigan December 21, 2013 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Good for you Brenda. I’m off the cereal bus too and feel so much better. Happy Holidays to you and your family. Dave

    • Brenda Knowles December 21, 2013 at 7:58 am - Reply

      If you have any yummy alternative breakfast suggestions I’m all ears Dave. I alternate between eggs and smoothies (although drinking my meal is not all that satisfying). Lets be even more vibrant and healthy in 2014.:) Happy holidays to you and yours!

      • David Kanigan January 2, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

        Sorry Brenda. I’m still searching to fill the void.

  6. www.laurensapala.com December 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    One of my introvert strategies around the holidays is to remind myself that it’s okay to say no to parties. Or if I really feel like I HAVE to go to one, it’s okay for me to spend around 45 min there and then graciously say my goodbyes and go home. Although I don’t drink at all, parties are so draining for me that I usually feel “hungover” in the morning after attending one.

    The more time I can spend at home, the more energized I feel overall.

    • Brenda Knowles December 21, 2013 at 7:49 am - Reply

      Excellent party strategy Lauren. Always have and ETD in mind.:) We often feel obligated to say yes to parties but no is a real option. Take care of yourself.The socializing hangover is quite common for introverts. I have found that I don’t get as drained when I hangout with other introverts or the party is more ‘deep conversations’ than ‘lamp-shade on head’. Quieter parties are easier on my spirit.
      Thanks for sharing your strategy!

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