An introvert in holiday partyland

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: December 17th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

‘Twas the night of the holiday party and all through the house, creatures were stirring, even the mouse. The favors were strung by the punch bowl with flair, in hopes that loud partygoers would soon be there.

But in the corner, the introverts all wished they were at home in their beds. Visions of quiet rooms danced in their heads. The woman clutched her purse. The man held his hat. Both secretly wished they were at home with the cat.

Oh to be an introvert during the holidays.

In an extrovert’s eyes, a holiday party means talking and laughing, eating, and even more talking and laughing as the hours wear wee. To the introvert, it’s all an endless array of uncomfortable conversations, people talking loudly and time away from things that really matter.

It’s not that introverts are party poopers. Scientists say the key difference between introverts and extroverts is how their brains process dopamine. Introverts are more sensitive to this happiness-causing chemical. Reading or being at home can satisfy. But an extrovert needs more stimulation to garner the same happy boost. People. Parties. Bungee jumping.

Russian researchers have found this makes extroverts more thrill-seeking than the average introvert.

Most folks are extroverts, though, so how can an introvert cope at a party? Experts say be early, help out, ask questions and start conversations.

Easier said than done, you say? Then be a good listener… extroverts need someone to listen to their stories.

Even if you still count the minutes until you can leave, at least you won’t feel like the one light on the tree that isn’t blinking.