7 tips for social events

girls-984154_1920The next couple of weekends are going to be busy ones. I’m planning on getting plenty of quiet time between the chaos. This should help me avoid total burnout. But I also wanted to share a few things I’m going to do to manage my energy so I can enjoy myself.

1. Know your limits.
I’ve gotten better at recognizing how much energy I have left at a given moment. I know when I can stay for another 30 minutes vs when my tank is empty. I also give myself a flexible departure time. If I’m feeling great, I’ll stay longer. Otherwise I’ll head home.

2. Get quiet time first.
This is a lifesaver. Before I leave for an event, I like to spend at least 30 minutes by myself. I usually run my diffuser with some lavender while reading a book. This gives me the chance to recharge before a busy night out. Getting some post-event quiet is also necessary.

3. Wear your favorites.
I love the satisfaction I get from putting together an outfit with my favorite items. I know they look flattering and I love the colors and styles. It definitely gives me a mental boost and makes me feel more confident. And if I’m going to a social event, I need all the help I can get 😉

4. Assume a role.
I love doing this. I’ll often volunteer to help set up (this also gives me an excuse to leave early). Or I’ll offer to pour drinks, set the table, put out food, or act as unofficial photographer. It allows me to focus on a task while still being part of things. As a bonus, you come across as helpful.

5. Make a to-do list.
I hate walking into a room and having no idea what to do. So I make myself a to-do list. First I’ll explore the area and locate the exits, washrooms, and quiet spaces. Then I’ll peruse the room and see who might be interesting to talk to. I’ll locate the food/drink and spend a moment eating while I plan out my next move. Then I’ll take a quick bathroom break to clear my mind. Once I’m back, I’ll join a conversation.

6. Take breaks.
When I start feeling fuzzy, I’ll usually take a trip to the washroom. Even perusing the books on a bookshelf can create a moment of quiet in a busy room.

7. Leave on a positive note.
I’ll usually thank the host/hostess, let them know I enjoyed myself, and head off. I try to leave with a smile, even if I’m not feeling it. If its a large gathering I’ll usually leave quietly and send a follow up thank you.

Do you have any other tips?

Introvert guide: conventions

man-2616599_1920I enjoy conventions. There’s something that keeps me coming back. Despite the massive crowds, over-stimulation, and constant buzz of conversation. I love massive nerdy comic expos, arts and crafts shows, and local festivals. As an introvert this may seem a bit contradictory. But I’m learning to enjoy them in my own introverted way. Here are a few things that help me not only survive, but thrive in a convention setting.

1. Accept you can’t do it all.
This is the hardest but most important step. I wish I could thrive on noise and energy like an extrovert, but that’s not who I am. I’m an introvert. I’m learning to take things at my own pace, listen to my body, and make awesome memories along the way.

2. Plan ahead.
Most large conventions will post a schedule of events ahead of time. I’ll browse the list and star anything that catches my eye. I’ll then pick 2-3 per day that I must see. The rest I’ll attend if I have the energy. Rather than cramming in everything and being miserably overwhelmed, I get to see the awesome stuff that excites me.

3. Check your energy.
During the event I check in with myself every 30 minutes. How am I feeling? Am I hungry or thirsty? Do I need a break or am I okay to keep going? What “percentage” is my energy level right now? Am I slightly overwhelmed or near my breaking point? Then I follow through on what I need. I have to be extra vigilant as it’s easy for me to slide from okay to overwhelmed in an instant.

4. Take breaks.
I can’t spend a whole day at a convention. I’ve tried and I’m a burned out, frazzled, irritated, mess by the end. So now I go for a limited time each day with lots of breaks. If I’m hungry or thirsty, I’ll find a place to sit down and refuel. I bring a refillable water bottle and lots of healthy snacks. If I’m getting fuzzy, I’ll step outside and go for a short walk. Or I’ll take a bathroom break and sit in the stall for a few moments. This isn’t a weakness, it’s being proactive about managing my energy. If I can’t handle things and need to head home, that’s okay too. I’m not a failure for taking care of myself.

5. Travel solo.
This is not always an option, but it’s definitely helpful. In previous years I’ve attended events with a clingy extroverted friend and I regretted it. If you’re going solo, you don’t feel obligated follow the group even if you feel terrible. But if you are with a group, let them know you’ll be popping in and out periodically. With technology it’s a lot easier to rejoin them later.

Do you have any other tips?

A tale of two weekends

road trip

This summer has been extremely busy so far. Most of the time I love it, but there are times when it gets too overwhelming. Its been more than a week since my US trip and I’ve been able to process everything that happened. I also went on a road trip this past weekend. I thought I’d compare the two trips in order to figure out what made one more enjoyable than the other.

Trip to the US ★★☆☆☆

I travelled to Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago. My post on June 22 details the anxiety I was feeling about the trip. Food-wise, things were okay. I had steak at the Italian restaurant and it was yummy. We also went to a Japanese restaurant, rather than the Indian one, so I was able to fill up on delicious sushi. But other than that, meals were few and far between and I was running on adrenaline most of the time. I was also staying with people who didn’t eat breakfast which made things more difficult. I think the only thing that saved me was the homemade protein balls I brought with me.

Activity-wise, it was not good. I completely understand that my friends wanted to squeeze in as much as possible into the weekend, but it was overkill. They kept us out late (we didn’t get back until 12 am most nights) and then were up early the next morning. I think I averaged 5 hours of sleep a night. They chose group activities everyone else was excited about and I got guilt-tripped into going along. When I pulled out my book to read, they would start a conversation with me. How does that even make sense? It was quite frustrating. Fortunately, I used taking video and pictures as a way of isolating myself while still ‘participating’ in the action. By Monday I was completely done with people and just wanted to leave. The trip home went well, although I ended up sprinting through the Chicago airport in order to catch my flight, but that’s another story.

Road trip ★★★★★

This past weekend was another busy one. I took an 8 hour road trip to see friends. A few of us carpooled to save on fuel and spent the trip laughing and talking. Even though we were in a vehicle for several hours, I was able to pull out a book or my music without feeling guilty. I stayed with some good friends and had a lovely time catching up. There was a super fun BBQ too. We stayed up until nearly midnight talking, joking, and singing songs around the campfire (although I didn’t really know any of the songs they played).

The next day we grabbed breakfast, spent the morning chatting, then headed home. It was a quieter drive back, we were all pretty tired, but it went well. I was able to enjoy more quiet time with my music and a book. We also drove through a thunderstorm which was pretty neat. I was definitely exhausted once I finally made it back, but it was worth it. I slept extremely well on Sunday night.

I noticed a few things that made trip two far more enjoyable than trip one. Firstly, trip one was full of constant activity and no breaks. Everything was last minute and I couldn’t mentally prepare myself for anything. Trip two was busy, but had space for breaks, and no one got offended if I turned on my music. I also knew the itinerary and was able to mentally prepare for the busy activities. Secondly, I was constantly hungry during trip one and couldn’t eat much when we ate out. During trip two, I stayed with friends who asked me about my food sensitivities and took the time to prepare food specifically for me. They didn’t have to do that, but I was very grateful to them.

Based on my experiences I have a few tips I’m going to employ on future trips

1. Take breaks all the time.

I don’t care if it makes me look anti-social. If I need quiet time, I’m going to take it. I’m a far more pleasant person to be around when I have the energy to interact with others.

2. Plan to take a longer break.

Smaller breaks are wonderful, but they only postpone the inevitable burnout. I’m going to set aside an hour or two to read, listen to music, go for a run, etc. I will then tell everyone this and not feel guilty for doing so.

3. Volunteer.

This seems a bit counter-intuitive, but I find that helping out with cooking or washing dishes is an amazing opportunity to get away from the crowd and help your host/hostess out at the same time. The bonus is that it makes you look super helpful 🙂

4. Expect the unexpected.

There will always be surprises. Things will not always go as planned. If I remind myself of this, it helps me be a little more mentally prepared when the schedule inevitably changes.

5. Make time for the little things.

I have the tendency to jump right into things at my own expense. In the future, I will make sure I have enough to eat, I will drink water, I will take time to be in nature, and I will maintain my fitness routine. I may not have access to a gym but I can still go for a run.

How was your weekend?

Image credit: “Montana road trip” by Derek Swanson is licensed under CC by 2.0