Here are my tried-and-true methods for coping with crowds at stores this holiday season without having a panic attack in the middle of Macy's.
- Be bigger than you are. Here's the thing. People don't give you space when you're nervous about being in a crowd. They think they can step on you because you're trying to sink into the floor, so they do. As you walk, put your shoulders back, your chin up, wear imposing shoes and powerful lipstick (if lipstick is your thing). Basically picture yourself as Malifecent or Professor Snape as you shop. Nobody in Hogwarts was going to shove Professor Snape. Believe that people who bump into you WILL burst into flames, and the people will believe it too.
- Go with a plan. Write down what you need from each place. Go into the place, get the thing, check out. Do not browse. Do not wander around the store. Go, find, leave. This works for the grocery store and for every other place on earth.
Wisdom from Hyperbole and a Half.
- Prepare to wait. You will stand in line for a while. Bring a book. This will help you stay in book world instead of crowded group of people world. Book world is always better.
- Prevent people from standing too close to you. See, people want to crowd in lines. Solution: get a cart even if you don't really need one. When you get in line, get in line in front of your cart. You get to choose how close you stand to the person in front of you, and now you have a cart-buffer between you and the creepily close-standing old guy behind you.
- Pause to regroup. Does it help you to take breaks from people? Throw out your plan and do it. Sit in your car a bit in the parking lot before going inside the store. Have lunch at a sit-down restaurant instead of fast-food, because there will be less people. Go through the Starbucks drive-thru instead of standing in the crowd inside. All of these are good methods for recharging the dealing-with-people center of your brain.
Now, this still doesn't solve the overwhelming terror of wondering whether your friend or coworker will buy you a present when they haven't said whether they are or not, so you don't know whether you should buy them a present or not until they bring you something or you bring them something and then it's overwhelmingly awkward and you're afraid to ever see that person again. (My solution for this is to make crafty/tasty gifts for everyone. Then you're covered.)
Are you an introvert? What helps you get through holiday parties and shopping? Tell me in the comments!