If you’re a highly sensitive (HSP) introvert like me, you understand how challenging this can be. As an HSP introvert, you know what it’s like to feel mentally and physically exhausted after doing everyday activities, like going to a crowded grocery store. Or giving a presentation. Or taking the subway.
Being an HSP introvert means that …
- You are more aware of subtleties in your environment. You notice smells, sounds, and sights that others miss. Your sensitivity to even subtle stimuli makes you prone to overwhelm.
- You are more sensitive to your own emotions. You feel things deeply, and tend to spend more time reflecting on your feelings. This is why you have strong reactions to violent movies and TV shows.
- You are empathetic, which means that you are deeply affected by other people’s moods. You literally feel the emotions of others. This can be exhausting if you don’t know how to create emotional and energetic boundaries.
- You are particularly sensitive to caffeine.
- You are prone to suffering from social hangovers. Sometimes, you need days to recover from a single social event.
To clarify, not all introverts are highly sensitive, BUT about 70% of HSPs are introverts. This makes the HSP/introvert combination surprisingly common. Still, few people understand how hard it is to be highly sensitive and introverted in a busybody, extrovert-biased culture.
Don’t get me wrong, being an HSP introvert has its advantages: strong intuition, keen observation skills, creativity. And it’s perfectly possible to tailor your lifestyle to suit your unique needs. This is exactly what I’ve done. Nowadays, I rarely notice my sensitivity when I’m at work, or at home (which happen to be the same place).
Why vacations are tricky for HSP Introverts
But there are certain activities that shine a blinding white light on my sensitivity. Take vacations for example. A vacation is meant to be something that you look forward to all year. It is your chance to “go on an adventure”, “have FUN!!”, and “seize the day”.
But for the HSP introvert, a vacation isn’t always so shiny. There are many good reasons for this.
When you are on vacation, you are surrounded by all sorts of new sights, smells, and sounds. Even if you’re in paradise, all the new stimuli can be exhausting. Not only that.
You feel a lot of pressure to do, do, do and see, see, see. Perhaps, you’ve bought into the myth that jam packed days are the only way to have a great vacation.
Non-HSPs don’t really get it
Non-HSPs are often confused by an introvert HSP’s vacation anxieties. Heck, even a fellow introvert who is not highly sensitive might not get it. They won’t understand why all the sightseeing is giving you a headache. They’ll also be totally perplexed by your desire to take an afternoon nap when there are so many exciting new things to do and see. I saw this firsthand while on vacation recently with my introverted boyfriend.
My innie man is the classic introvert in many ways. He likes to spend time alone, or with one best friend, or partner (that’s me!). His small circle of close friends rarely expands, and he’s okay with that. Best of all, he’s okay with silence. Quiet activities, such as walks, bike rides, and cooking are his go-to pastimes. But, as I discovered during our vacation, his introversion looks different than mine because he is not highly sensitive.
“You get tired a lot,” said my boyfriend. It was the third day of our seaside vacation, and my need for naps was steadily increasing.
“I’ve always been this way,” I replied. “I get tired from being out and about. Even just going to the grocery store can be tiring for me.”
Even though our activities while on vacation had been relatively introvert friendly, the days were a bit too overstuffed for my sensitive nature.
My average weekday consists of one-two outings (usually an afternoon walk, or a trip to the store). On vacation, just finding food can mean several outings on a given day. On top of that, you might want to go for walks, visit attractions, and try new things. It’s no wonder I was tired after the first day!
If you can relate to what I’ve shared, I’ve got your back.
Here are 3 essentials to survive and thrive on your next vacation as an HSP introvert:
1. Explain your needs to your vacation buddy.
If you’re on vacation with a partner or friend, it’s crucial that they understand the reason for your slower approach to travel. If you don’t, they might assume that you don’t enjoy spending time with them. Saying something as simple as, “I get tired from going out a lot. I need lots of naps while on vacation,” will do the trick.
If expressing your needs is a challenge for you, check out my free 30-day framework for introvert charisma. You’ll discover clear steps to speak with confidence, even if you’re introverted and shy.
2. Be okay with taking a break.
You might be tempted to feel guilty for taking a time out while on vacation. Keep this in mind: you’ll have way more fun if you are fresh and awake, than if you force yourself to sightsee when you’re exhausted. It’s okay to sneak away for a while and do nothing.
3. Reduce the number of activities you do in a day.
This doesn’t mean you spend all day staring at the flies on the ceiling. It simply means that you spend more time on a few carefully chosen activities, instead of completely cramming your schedule.
Maybe you’ll go for a late breakfast in town, and then pack your picnic bags and spend the entire afternoon at the beach. Or, you do a morning tour, and have a quiet afternoon reading beside the hotel pool. Planning your meals ahead of time and having snacks on hand will also help simplify your days.
Vacationing as an HSP introvert isn’t always easy, but with a little planning and understanding, you can actually enjoy yourself. Wherever your next holiday takes you, remember to pack some self-compassion in your carry-on.
Ear plugs will help, too. 😉
Over to you
Can you relate to my vacation overwhelm? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
P.S. In case you’re wondering, I did have an amazing time on my vacation! Afternoon naps helped me enjoy it to its fullest. And once I explained my needs to my boyfriend, he was very understanding about my sloth-like stamina. 🙂