I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was delightful and fun, with a healthy dose of yum! Ours was lovely–a good balance of family, friends, and good conversation while eating the feast Nick prepared. (I’m the prep cook and decorator/table setter, which suits me just fine.)
Lucky for me I’m fairly extroverted, which gives me a broad bandwidth for chit chat and the high volume that comes with a room full of people. But I have to admit, my bandwidth has decreased post-Covid. I find myself daydreaming of my jammies way earlier than I did three years ago, and I know it’s not just a natural aging progression. It’s a nervous system that’s out of shape for marathons of social engagement.
Thankfully, we have tools for this. I believe we can get back to pre-Covid party tolerance, if that is indeed what we want to do. Either way, I think these three things will help the most in navigating our way back to balance when our introverted tendencies have taken up more of their fair share of space in our social lives:
Be patient. Hey–it’s been a while since you had to feign interest in duck hunting, but you can do it! Breathe deeply and find something interesting in the story that’s unfolding (and perhaps never ending). Be patient with yourself if you become impatient and just start over. I try to be inspired by St. Mary Magdalene, as she teaches us to see this person “through the eyes of your heart.” Meditate on what you might have in common, unclench your jaw, and smile with the corners of your mouth. (This will trick your nervous system into thinking you’re enjoying yourself, and before you know it, the chemicals that tell your mind the same message will kick in.)
Take a break. Sometimes I wonder if people might think I have a bladder issue of some sort. I really do leave the room if I want to clear my head, have some silence, reconnect with my patience, or just be alone for a minute. I find a bathroom break is the best place to recharge in solitude. You can even sit on your ceramic throne and practice nyasa. This pranayama will calm your mind and ease your agitation in just a few moments. Here is a YouTube video describing how to do it. Enjoy!
Treat it like interval training. If you have a goal of lifting 200 pounds, you don’t start there. You start where you are. Start with 40 pounds and work your way up. Don’t start with three events in one week. You might have to be discerning about what you say yes to and where you send regrets, especially at first. Or if one event is to go on and on with no discernable ending, give yourself a hard out, and honor it. Burnout is not the goal–increasing capacity for being around human beings is. Once one gathering goes well, and you leave feeling happy and fulfilled, add or create another. Or give yourself more time at something that comes up. (And if you overdo it, please refer to suggestion #1.) This is a practice of svadaya, or self study.
Please don’t take this with any grain of “should.” Depending on where you are in the cycles of life, you might be on the other end of the spectrum and are looking for gatherings to join. Well, what a great time to throw an event yourself! You be the gym where we’re all working out! Also don’t think you “should” want to gather more. Perhaps this new normal suits you just fine. Don’t give in to the pressure to return to what was! But I figure this is the month for more events than usual, so I thought I’d address ways we could use a little support–or at least I could!
At the end of the day, we all need connection. It’s part of our DNA. The amount we need is individual. I encourage us all to honor and expand our capacity to be loving with other humans, regardless of the amount of time spent.
May you enjoy this holiday season with the tools of yoga at your side, and may daydreams of jammies dance in your head.
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