Out of Hibernation: How to Enjoy a Quiet Summer
Which sounds more appealing to you - being curled up on the couch under a cozy blanket with a cup of tea and your favorite movie/book or traipsing through an unknown city on a hot day? Winter can be an enjoyable time for Introverts and Highly Sensitive types because it’s more socially acceptable to hibernate inside and enjoy quiet activities. Then comes summer with its pressure to travel or attend barbecues and pool parties, leaving us feeling irritable and exhausted from the stimulation, bright sunlight and heat.
What about the hidden gifts that summer brings? I want to highlight the expectation of taking time off work and going on vacations during this time of year. I know what you’re thinking - vacations are exhausting and often leave us needing a vacation after our vacation! Instead of needing to go on elaborate international trips or attend frequent weekend gatherings, how about taking advantage of the summer months to get more downtime and vacation on your own terms? There’s no need to miss out, but rather make a few adjustments to make summer work for your quiet temperament. Sound intriguing? See below for ten tips on how to transform your vacation experience from overwhelming to restorative.
Tip #1: Vacation on Your Own Terms
Instead of taking a lengthy road trip or multi-city international tour, it’s okay to go at a slower pace. Seclude yourself in a cabin for a week, immerse yourself in fewer activities or visit your favorite destination again. It’s your precious time off. How do you want to spend it?
Tip #2: Don’t Forget About Staycations!
Perhaps you’ve had a stressful or full year and the idea of preparing for a vacation sounds exhausting! Going on vacation does take a lot of energy and planning, so don’t hesitate to schedule a staycation instead. If you do stay home, make preparations to turn off email and prioritize self-care.
Tip #3: Plan Ahead and Set Boundaries
If traveling with friends or family, inquire about scheduled activities ahead of time so you know what to expect and can reduce anxiety of the unknown. A Highly Sensitive Person will often have difficulty with surprises or unexpected changes in routine. Planning ahead also gives you an opportunity to set limits on commitments and communicate your needs for solo activities or downtime.
Tip #4: Do Your Research to Prevent Overwhelm
Exploring a new location can be very overwhelming since there are many decisions to make such as where to eat and what to do. Research these options ahead to reduce the exhaustion of making countless decisions while traveling.
Tip #5: Add at Least One Buffer Day to Your Calendar
Schedule at least one day off after your vacation to recharge before heading back to your normal routine. This may require taking a shorter trip or taking an extra day off work, but will allow you to feel rested and prepared to re-engage with your responsibilities.
Tip #6: Rest First, Explore Later
Transitions of any kind are tough for HSPs, especially when traveling to a new location. Incorporate time to settle into your destination before exploring, so that you feel calm and at ease before overstimulating your senses with new sights, sounds, and smells.
Tip #7: Make Sleep a Priority
Whether you’re traveling to a different time zone or engaging in more adventurous activities, adequate sleep is essential during vacation. Increased activity, changes in routine and stimulation means more for the Introvert or HSP to process which can lead to fatigue. Listen to your body and rest as much as you need to.
Tip #8: Manage Expectations
Highly Sensitive People often have a need for meaningful experiences and are easily disappointed when reality does not meet our expectations. If your trip does not go as planned, see if you can let go of your original expectation and embrace the present moment. For instance, if it’s raining on the day you planned to go on a walking tour, perhaps you can now visit a museum or take in a show you might have missed.
Tip #9: Communicate Your Needs for Downtime
Let your travel companions know that you need a little quiet time each day, especially before a long day of sightseeing or an adventurous activity. By communicating your needs, you can advocate for yourself and reduce any feelings of concern or frustration from others.
Tip #10: Maintain Routines
Highly Sensitive People often feel unsettled or anxious when daily routines are disrupted, so it is important to maintain your routine as much as possible while traveling. For instance, if you take a walk everyday or meditate before bed, be sure to continue those practices to stay grounded.
Travel during summer vacations can often leave Introverts and Highly Sensitive People feeling more depleted and overstimulated, instead of giving us the rest we desperately need. This summer, I encourage you to vacation on your own terms and take advantage of the downtime to nourish yourself. Enjoy your Sensitive Summer!