6 Ways to Get Through Thanksgiving Dinner When You're an Introvert

Thanksgiving can be a lot for anyone to handle, but it's especially tough if you're an introvert.

Sure, all of that family time and delicious food sounds great in theory (and it is!), but some of us have a lower threshold for all the holiday hoopla than others, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you're wondering how on Earth you're ever going to survive Turkey Day (let alone the entire extended weekend), check out our list of six ways to get through Thanksgiving dinner when you're an introvert.

1. Know What to Expect

For introverts, Thanksgiving can be a marathon of activities that you don't naturally gravitate towards or enjoy: endless small talk, lots of personal questions and an extended amount of time spent with people you may or may not like. But the good news is, you know it's coming. That means you know generally what to expect and can do all the necessary prep work—getting in some quality alone time, for example—before the long holiday weekend arrives. If you're mentally ready for the toll Thanksgiving might take on you as an introvert, you'll be better equipped to deal with it. And remember, it will end eventually.

Thanksgiving Dinner
(via Unsplash)


2. Pace Yourself

In addition to preparing yourself as you see fit, it's also important to pace yourself on the big day. Trying to talk to all your relatives and friends in rapid succession will likely be too overwhelming for you, and can wear you out early on in the day. But alternating catching up with others with something a bit less frenetic, like lending a hand in the kitchen, can help make all the holiday hoopla seem less intense. If you start feeling a bit too overwhelmed, there's nothing wrong with excusing yourself for a few minutes to collect your thoughts, returning only when you're ready.


3. Give Yourself a Task

If you know that you won't do well sitting around waiting for others to make awkward small talk, then give yourself a job to do. There's plenty that needs to get done on Thanksgiving day, so offer to lend a hand in the kitchen or take people's coats as they come in. Having a role will make you seem social and involved, but requires only a controlled amount of effort on your part that is relatively easy to manage. If you feel like you need a break after eating dinner, volunteer to help with the dishes. Not only will it make you seem like the most helpful houseguest ever (always a plus!), it will allow you some much needed time away from all the chaos to recharge.

Thanksgiving Cooking
(via Unsplash)


4. Practice Some Small Talk

If small talk is your mortal enemy, know that you're most certainly not alone. Also know that it's totally acceptable to have a mental list of topics you do enjoy and feel comfortable talking about at the ready. Why not tell your aunts and uncles about that cool science project you just got a good grade on, or pick your cousin's brain about the latest episode of Riverdale? Not only will having some talking points prepared make you feel more confident,  it can also help steer the conversation away from topics you'd rather not discuss, including your relationship status or future plans.


5. Carve Out Some Alone Time

Thanksgiving is a long day, and if you're traveling for the holiday, chances are you actually have more than one day that's bound to be filled with activities and family time that seemingly never ends. Because this can often be very uncomfortable for introverts, make sure you carve out some time for yourself. Over the course of the weekend, try and crack open a book or suggest watching a movie or some TV with others. It's relaxing, but requires little engagement or effort on your part. It's a win-win!

Thanksgiving Reading
(via Unsplash)


6. Recharge When You Need It

No one knows your limits better than you do, and if you feel a need to recharge over the course of Thanksgiving day or the weekend itself, go ahead and do it. During dinner, that might only mean sneaking off to the bathroom and splashing some water on your face, but if you continue to feel overwhelmed as the weekend progresses, opt out of the Black Friday shopping trip and take a bath or slip on your headphones and go for a nice jog. Chances are some time alone with your own thoughts will be just what you needed.


For more Turkey Day-related wisdom, click HERE for six healthy recipes you can make using Thanksgiving leftovers.