How to Take 'Me Time' Around the Holidays, Even If You Don't Have a 'Leave Me Alone Sweater'
If you’re an introvert or someone who needs plenty of alone time, being involuntarily thrust into the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be overwhelming, to say the least. For many people, the change in routine can be hard on your mental health, and the pressure to see family and friends can be too much if part of your self-care practice is solitude.
Well, if this sounds familiar, there’s a sweater just for you! The “Leave Me Alone Sweater” (yes, that’s what it’s called), is a humorous way to send the message that you can’t be bothered by others this holiday season.
Designed by Ruth Grace Wong last Janurary, the sweater literally zips over your head so no one can see you. Wong says the sweater is, “more of a statement than a functional piece of clothing,” and that she was inspired by Becky Stern’s Compubody Sock, which covers your head and your laptop.
At one point, you could buy a pre-made “Leave Me Alone Sweater” online, but they’re currently out of stock. If you’re interested in making your own though, Wong does have detailed instructions online.
The Leave Me Alone Sweater, designed by Ruth Grace Wong
All joking aside — even if you’re not going make your own “Leave Me Alone Sweater” in all its glory — there are still ways you can get alone time and personal space around the holidays.
We asked our mental health community for some tips, and here’s what they shared with us.
1. Unplug from social media.
“I turn off my messaging apps and unplug from social media.” — Sarah C.
Even if you can’t escape from people in real life, it’s OK to take some space from the people in your virtual one. If getting notifications from your social networks makes you more stressed out, give yourself a break. Put your energy into the people you’re going to see — you can always check Facebook later.
2. Get out of the house.
“Offer to run errands.” — Kaitlin R.
Whether you offer to run errands like Kaitlin suggested, or even just go for a drive, physically removing yourself from a hectic environment can provide you with the space you need. Listen to a funny podcast on the way to the store, and go the long way home — you deserve it.
3. Spend time with pets.
“The dog is my escape, she still needs to be walked and fed but she’s really old now and takes her time over everything so I use that to get some time away from people if I need it, she needs to be checked and watched often so that’s what I tell people.” — Ciara L.
“I just hang out with the pets at family gatherings if I need alone time. They like the attention and no one gives me crap for paying more attention to the animals than the relatives.” — Kate H.
If you’re lucky enough to be somewhere with pets, get some TLC from a furry friend — you won’t technically be alone, but at least your aunt’s dog won’t ask you any invasive questions.
4. Take a nap.
“When I need alone time during the holidays, I go and take a nap for about 15-45 minutes. It’s refreshes the body a little and gives you your alone time.” — Kayla B.
Even if you don’t actually sleep, excusing yourself to spend even a short moment in a dark room ironically might be what you need to brighten up your mood. See if you can squeeze in even 10 minutes.
5. Take a “bathroom break.”
“If I’m out somewhere…going to the washroom to run my hands under hot water and sometimes even just to sit and take deep breaths until it passes.” — Courtney P.
If your only option to find solitude is in the bathroom… feel free to take advantage of it. Take your time, take a few deep breaths and don’t feel ashamed to take a “bathroom break,” even if you don’t have to “go.” We’ve all done it.
6. Take a writing/reading break.
“Go in my room and read or journal. Really helps to get out of my head.” — Lisa C.
If you’re too overwhelmed by what’s going on in the moment, getting your worries down on paper or immersing yourself in a book are both great ways to make the most out of precious time alone. Your brain needs a break from thinking about holiday plans.
7. Be honest about what you need.
“No trick other than honesty. Anyone who doesn’t understand is free to think whatever they want.” — Cat M.