Living as an introvert in an extroverted world can sometimes be an exhausting experience.
Our culture expects us to always be somewhere doing something in social settings. This something is always expected to be exciting and riveting enough to post on social media. There’s always a party, a concert, an exotic trip to take in. We’re expected always to be in motion, interacting and engaging in some activity, preferably with others.
While extroverts thrive in these situations, introverts often find it draining to be constantly expected to be out and “on.” Having anxiety can magnify this drained feeling and make it even more difficult to face the constant onslaught of social interactions.
Disengaging from this extroverted group mentality can be difficult, but it is necessary for us as introverts to protect our energy. Time alone to rest and recharge is essential in preparing us for each new day. If you are struggling to find peace and balance in your life as an anxious introvert, try some of the following strategies.
Make Sleep Sacred
Develop a before-bed ritual. Figure out what best helps you to relax. It might be a warm bath with essential oils, reading your favorite book, listening to calming music or drinking a cup of tea. It might be all of these things or none of them. Something entirely different might work for you. Try going to bed a bit earlier every night and take note of how many hours of sleep works best for you so you wake up feeling rested and ready for the day. Try keeping a journal of the sleep habits that work best for you.
Clear Your Mind
The day’s events can play in our heads just as we are trying to settle down for the night. Then all the things we have to do the next day start to loop in our heads, making it impossible to drop off. This stream of past and future events makes it difficult to exist in the present moment. Instead of getting carried away by such thoughts, try just observing them without judgment. Don’t be upset that the thoughts are there, but rather realize they are separate from who you are. The fact is that we are not our thoughts; we are the still awareness in which they exist. Once we are able to find this stillness, we can focus on our breathing. Take note of your breathing rhythm and slowly start to breathe more deeply. Begin to let go of all of the tension in your body. From your toes up, start to become conscious of any tightness that you are holding in your body and gently release it. Make time in the mornings to do this as well, before starting on daily tasks.
Take Breaks from Social Media
Make not looking at your phone and computer part of your before-bed and morning rituals. Use this technology-free time to centre yourself and release all of the built-up stress from within you. Consider this a healing time for you to do whatever makes you happy and relaxed. Yoga, journaling, listening to an audio book, meditation or mindful breathing are all options that might work for you.
Get Comfortable Saying ‘No’
Making time to rest and recharge will mean not going to all of the events and social interactions to which we are invited. Sometimes it can feel rude turning down someone who wants to hang out. For introverts, it’s important for us to remember that we can be better friends, family members or significant others when we take care of ourselves first. Saying no takes practice. It’s okay to cancel if you realize you are not up to going out. The people who are meant to be in your life will respect and understand that you need time to yourself.
Cultivate Your ‘Me Time’
Despite what society tells us, we don’t need other people around to have a good time. Having a night in on your own, even on weekends, is perfectly okay. Settling in for a night of TV or reading a new book doesn’t have to be something that makes you feel like you’re lazy or anti-social. These can be important recovery habits that help you process stress and recharge from the events of the day.
Take Yourself Out
You don’t have to stay cooped up inside to have quality alone time. As well, being out on your own doesn’t have to be something undesirable. Going places by yourself can be a liberating experience. Try going out and watching a new band or take yourself to a bookstore, cafe or movie. Free yourself from the idea that you can’t have fun by yourself. Being alone does not have to go hand-in-hand with being lonely. Learning to love and appreciate your time alone is an important part of navigating a world that says you always need someone or something else to be happy.
Ultimately, thriving as an anxious introvert means finding our sense of well-being by taking time for ourselves. Cultivating our alone time can help us find inner joy. True joy and happiness don’t come from anything external. Within us all is the capacity to be at peace with the present moment just as it is and to accept ourselves exactly as we are.
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