Self-Care for Introverts
by Melissa Howard, guest contributing writer
Self-Care for Introverts
Self-care looks different for everyone. People who are introverted have a great deal of variation among them, although, in some ways, the things they find helpful may differ from the things extroverts find helpful.
Pay attention to what works for you
Although social pressure to manage stress and emotions in the ways that others do can be intense, it’s important to pay attention to what works for you. If your friends and family blow off steam by going to a noisy bar, and you’d rather go for a walk with one friend, say so. It’s all right to acknowledge the good intentions of those urging you to join them in their preferred activity and politely decline. If you’d prefer to read, nap, or exercise after a stressful day, then do that. Over time you’ll determine what activities you can use to destress, calm, rejuvenate and refresh yourself after a lot of socializing. Whether others around you feel the same way doesn’t matter. Self-care means setting boundaries and doing what is best for you, within reason.
Exercise and nutrition are important
While you may not be interested in playing a team sport, plenty of forms of exercise can be done on your own, with a dog, or with an exercise partner. You can swim, run, walk, hike, bike, and do weight training on your own. A mind-body exercise, such as tai chi or yoga, might be rewarding. If you can find a way to exercise outdoors, you’ll double the benefits for yourself, with just 30 minutes a day in nature. If your work consumes most of your time, you may need to build in opportunities to move more, such as climbing stairs or walking outdoors during your lunch hour. Look for ways to put more movement in each day. Research has shown that introverts frequently have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex of their brains, the area responsible for analysis and decision making. You can use this to your advantage by researching and analyzing the healthiest ways to eat, and then planning your meals accordingly.
Accept that you are an introvert, and that’s ok
In a culture that prizes extroversion, it can be challenging to be an introvert. If this is you, though, acknowledge it. Introverts bring their own strengths and contributions to the world and ultimately leave it a better place. Make sure you get enough alone time to adequately recharge yourself for work, play, and interaction with the world. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re an introvert, try this quick quiz. You may find activities involving reflection, thinking, and listening to be rewarding, or you may not, but it’s worth giving them a try. You might consider meditation, journaling, or doing activities you enjoy with another person for the company.
Find ways to navigate the world
Although you may not enjoy being in large groups, this preference need not stop you from pursuing your dreams. If you’re thinking of changing careers and need to return to school, you might look into online universities. Make sure to fully vet any program you’ll be applying to enter. Find out how long the school has been in existence, what the costs will be, whether the school is accredited, and if it offers the particular degree you want to pursue.
Remember your first responsibility
Taking care of yourself is your number one responsibility. It can be easy to overlook this, but it’s important to clarify which activities you find “expensive” in terms of energy cost and which ones are replenishing, and to keep these balanced. Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, focus on activities and people that leave you feeling good. Rather than isolating yourself, think about ways of socializing that work best for you–possibly small groups, one on one, or quieter activities, and do those things.
The world needs both introverts and extroverts, and we all have our own challenges and gifts. Even if the culture around you seems to prize and reward extroversion, there are ways to thrive as an introvert. The key is doing self-care to keep yourself feeling calm and centered.
Article by Melissa Howard, Guest contributing writer
Lead-in photo Image courtesy of Pexels
If you’re seeking holistic mental health care in western North Carolina, Ron Parks, M.D. is a consultant and specialist in integrative psychiatry and holistic medicine. Reach out today.
Endnotes & Comments by Ron Parks, MD
Comments by Dr. Parks: From a holistic mental health perspective, labeling as an introvert or extrovert may reflect surface characteristics only. Identifying a self-descriptor as an introvert is a potential opening for deeper exploration and discovery. One that adopts their major defining characteristic as being an introvert might risk or limit their potential to excel as a creator, artist, or specialist in their area of talent. The limitations on a person’s aspiration may be from the greater need to fit in with their more typical peers, not wanting to stand out as being different or unique. There may be a need to avoid the ridicule or attack from others, someway threatened by another’s talents and abilities. If a person is happily adjusted and functioning to their most total capacity, then all is fine, and no need for further examination or concern.
When maladjustment exists along with other difficulties such as lack of energy, anxiety, sleep difficulties, irritability, mood irregularities such as depression, or even to the extent of feeling hopeless and suicidal, it may be the time to delve deeper. Beyond labels, there may be more significant underlying issues that would benefit from the discovery process or utilization of mental health resources for care and treatment. Reach out for help when needed.
In the past, I have written several articles exploring the association of individual unique individual genetic traits and biodiversity, which may present on the surface with anxiety, avoidance, and compensating need to fit in at the expense of one’s individuality and talents. It is a situation where people’s differences of uniqueness draw discrimination, leading to a sense of failure and even desperation. See other articles on Dr. Parks’ blog/website that discuss how unrecognized physical, mental, or spiritual health issues can appear as surface symptoms or characteristics that need further attention when associated with significant other difficulties
Guest Healthcare Writers—Contributors’ submitted articles are welcome. Contributors’ pieces are curated by Dr. Parks and published on parksmd.com as felt relevant to the interest of our readers and consistent with our holistic mental healthcare theme. The ideas expressed in the guest articles are those of the writer and do not represent the opinion or recommendation of Dr. Parks and this blog site/newsletter. Dr. Parks encourages openness to all holistic, health-oriented perspectives of others to encourage more open-mindedness and consideration of positive alternatives.