An Introvert's Guide to a Cozy Winter Season

Crystal Jackson

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To say I am an introvert might be understating it. I’m one of the 1–2% of the population who identifies as INFJ on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator test. That’s Introverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Judging. While I won’t go into the quirks of this particular set of characteristics, I will say that introverts do a lot of life differently than our more social counterparts, whether we are INFJs or another introvert type altogether.

Although to say that introverts aren’t social would be to mischaracterize us.

Many of us are social. It’s just that introverts draw energy from space and solitude while extroverts draw energy from interacting with people and the world around them. Many introverts aren’t shy or reserved at all or abandon any similar characteristics once we’re in a comfortable environment. Actually, I’m often mistaken as an extrovert because I’m able to interact freely and openly once a certain level of comfort has been reached. I even enjoy crowds and parties, in small doses. Still, my introverted heart longs for solitude more than the crowds.

Introverts are often mistaken for being lonely.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve been joined at lunch by a well-meaning colleague over the years determined to befriend me because I “looked lonely” when I was happily reading my book or enjoying my own company and a little peace and quiet. In some of my most social jobs, having that downtime at lunch was simply a survival skill to make it through the rest of the day.

Introverts know well the difference between being alone and feeling lonely. We value solitude. Just because we’re sitting alone or spending an evening on our own, that doesn’t mean we’re pining for company.

In fact, I’ve decided that I want to do winter introvert-style.

To be honest, I do most winters introvert-style because, ahem, I’m an introvert. But I am trying to cultivate more mindful intention in my life, and instead of trying to make myself go out on a night I prefer to stay in, I plan to snuggle right on up in my cozy bitch cave and enjoy winter the way I like best. And, no, I don’t know why I call my cozy, comfy, happy home lair a bitch cave. It just makes me smile, and that is reason enough.

While I understand the value of pushing oneself out of one’s comfort zone, I equally understand the value of knowing ourselves well enough to make appropriate choices with that knowledge.

I once put myself through a weekend at a social dance event because I enjoy dancing but forgot how much I do not enjoy meeting a whole bunch of strangers I would then have to be in close proximity with to dance. It was miserable. I would have been much better off enjoying some solo hiking, long naps, and some solid reading time than being passed off from one stranger to the next in an endless circle of awkward steps and turns.

Winter, introvert-style, is a blissful idea- although it likely won’t seem so to an extrovert reading this out of curiosity who might react with skepticism, wonder, or derision. Still, I like it, and I’m guessing other introverts might rally around the idea of being told it’s okay to stay indoors alone rather than yet another person trying to nudge them out of their house toward parties, dates, outings, and other *people-y social scenarios.

*Yes, I know that’s not a real word. Focus, people.

So… winter, introvert-style. What does that look like?

  • Reading, lots of reading
  • Netflix and chill (with actual relaxing rather than groping involved)
  • Getting hygge- a favorite of mine where you take the Danish concept of hygge (think cozy) and turn it into a whole lifestyle of warm blankets, soft clothes, lots of candles and lamp lighting, and just cozying in for an intimate family (or solo) winter
  • Hearth fires
  • Candlelight
  • Cozy pajama time
  • Making a nest of soft blankets and pillows
  • Comfort food
  • Socializing with discretion (phone calls, texts, and social media with liberal use of the Do Not Disturb function to limit social time)
  • Naps (abandon the phrase “too much sleep” right now)
  • Early bedtimes
  • Sleeping in
  • Coloring (or drawing, painting, insert-favorite-art-activity-here)
  • DIY project
  • Self-guided learning
  • More reading
  • Baking (Does eating baked goods count?)
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Listening to music
  • Spending time with a pet
  • Nurturing houseplants
  • Long baths
  • Go on a solo hike (bicycle ride, walk, etc)
  • Going screen-free
  • Unplugging from social media
  • Home facial
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Watching movies
  • Stargazing (with a cozy blanket)
  • Taking ourselves out on a date
  • Dancing around in your pajamas listening to music (hey, no judgment here)
  • Reading again, for good measure

Being an introvert often gets the bad rap of being boring.

It’s not. It’s how we relax and recharge. We can’t get our energy from other people. In fact, other people often drain our energy, necessitating a reboot that is people-free. Or at least a little headspace to restore our energy to its original factory settings.

The above list can be customized to suit individual interests. It’s not a one-size-fits-all-introverts sort of list. But it does give us an idea of the sort of things we can do to recharge that has nothing to do with other people.

It can be great to try something new and to have an adventure that takes us firmly out of our comfort zones. But it can also be great to nestle into our comfort zone and enjoy it because we know that it’s exactly what we need at a particular time.

We spend more time and energy than we know these days interacting with others.

It’s the constant buzzing of our phones with messages, the social media updates, the ping of emails coming in, and then the real-world interactions with others. It’s everywhere. People expect us to answer if they call, to respond if they text, and to be available on Messenger 24 hours a day. The demands keep growing, and it’s no wonder people everywhere are experiencing heightened levels of stress.

As an INFJ, my need to recharge is tremendous. If I want to be fully functional, I have to prioritize the time that’s just for me. While some may see it as selfish, it’s particularly important that I, as a single mother and self-employed individual, reclaim and protect my time to be the best mother, writer, and all-around human that it’s possible for me to be.

That might mean retreating to my happy bitch cave or going on a solo hike in the woods. It might mean taking a nap and then going to bed early, too. It might mean not answering the phone or saying no to an invitation because I’d rather be home recharging than trying to balance my energy at a party that will certainly be more stressful than fun.

We’re so often made to feel guilty for the slightest bit of self-care.

It looks like we’re isolating ourselves from other people when we really only crave solitude and space. If we’re going to do one new thing for ourselves, it should be giving up the need for anyone else’s approval of our choices.

If we want to do winter like introverts because we are, in fact, introverts, we should do that without feeling guilty, being shamed, or having to ward off repeated attempts to coax us out of our happy hibernation.

So go forth and enjoy winter. If you’re an extrovert, I applaud you for making it this far, but I quirk an eyebrow in puzzlement at your perseverance here. Perhaps you know and love an introvert and are trying to understand what seems so inexplicable. Bravo to you for trying.

If you’re an introvert, it’s time to enjoy winter the way we like to do it. With cozy, warm, beautiful solitude, plenty of space, and no one around trying to nudge us out the door when all we want to do is stay in or nudging us to snag a plus-one when we’re happier flying solo. Do you.

I’ll be here, doing me, and doing this winter introvert-thing with a lot of sass and not a little style.

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA
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