Spending time in nature is an easy way for introverts to calm their overthinking minds.
I recently had an interesting conversation (yep, my introverted self relaxed a bit for some casual talk) with my coworkers, which got me thinking about my own life in retrospect. We’re all in different decades of our lives and were discussing what the best decades of our lives were — or might — be.
With one colleague in his 20s, I began to reflect on a very busy, but exciting, decade in my life, full of firsts. Despite my 20s being fulfilling, they were too intense to enjoy, as I was busy doing things I thought had to be achieved by a certain time. During my roaring 20s, I graduated college, got married, started my first job, had my first child, received my Master’s degree, and had my second child. However, I do remember — despite my busy schedule — being happy and doing the things I enjoyed.
My other colleague, in her mid-30s and seemingly happy, had me reminiscing about my 30s. Thinking back, even though I had a family and was generally happy, it was not my best decade. I was stressed and busy and essentially lost who I was. I could not recall a certain event that caused me to lose sight of my goals and who I aspired to be. However, after considering how content and happy I am now, in my 40s, I recognized two things that were missing in my life during my thirties — music and nature. (Side note: There are many introverted musical artists that may surprise you, from Taylor Swift to Bob Dylan!)
Discovering the Link Between Music and My Introversion
It isn’t that I had intentionally cut these things out; they simply didn’t connect with my lifestyle and faded into the background. My music choices became the radio on the way to work, not playlists or songs I really enjoyed, and my hikes and outdoor adventures became short strolls to the mailbox.
Now, I am finally feeling good about myself and satisfied with my newfound acceptance that I will always be introverted. In my teens and 20s and maybe even through my 30s, I felt indifferent about being quiet and always felt I was the only one out there. However, at this point in my life, I am actually enjoying figuring out who I am all over again and I feel a sense of revival and renewal. How could this be happening? I honestly feel it is in part because I brought the two things that soothed my introverted soul back into the picture — music and nature. After all, I was brought up in a world where kids spent their Saturdays on their dirt bikes on the wooded trails and MTV still played music videos. Here are four ways I am nourished by nature as an introvert.
4 Ways Nature Recharges Introverts
1. Nature is calming and can help your introvert brain decompress.
My life once consisted of driving to work, being in a building all day, and returning home. I saw the same things every day, heard the same sounds (from coworkers’ voices to copy machines), and never ventured out. Let’s face it: I was tired, and my introverted brain was in overload from forced socialization at my job all day. When I got home, my kids needed me, so the thought of going outside seemed like too much. It didn’t fit into my schedule and it was just one more thing.
One day, I decided to go for a walk by myself and I didn’t know how much I missed and needed to be outside.
I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate the colors of nature, and when I began to walk, I began to notice everything. Surprisingly, I felt much calmer. My walks became longer and my perception of the outdoors more familiar. I teach art and love color, but I had been missing some fabulous displays of color in my life. What better colors are provided than through nature? The magnificent tones of a sunset or wildflowers growing in a field… I knew color affected my introverted moods, but I just didn’t know how much.My high school art teacher once told me that I dress according to my mood; blacks and grays when I’m in a solitary mood, or a pop of color when I want to be noticed.
And the sounds. After hearing the chitter-chatter of exhausting human voices all day, nature provided my introverted soul with the beautiful melody of the wind or the song of a bird. A welcoming change to the hustle and bustle of a voice- and people-filled day. I soon looked forward to venturing out and listening to the sounds and observing the sights around me.
2. Nature gives you a chance to think and reflect.
Our lives can sometimes be overloaded with stimuli, especially for introverts living in an extroverted world. In my teaching profession, I have to speak constantly throughout my day (even when I don’t want to) and make split-second decisions (mostly for others). There is no time to relax and ponder. In my 30s, I had three young girls at home, so when I left work, the conversations and problem-solving-for-others didn’t end there. Not only was work a busy place, home could also be chaotic.
Now, in my 40s, my nature walks were soon joined by nature runs. I put on my headphones, turned up my music, and ran. I listened to music I chose and hadn’t listened to in years, with the lyrics bringing back fond memories and different thoughts about who I was and wanted to be. I was out in nature, observing and feeling its magnificence with the trees and flowers whizzing by, complemented by the music in my ears.
Even though my music was blaring and the sounds of nature temporarily cut off, I could still see and feel nature — the cold air invading my lungs or the white-tailed bunny hopping by — and I felt revived and nourished. The only decisions I had to make on my run were what song to listen to and which running path to take. My introverted brain — that had been pulled constantly all day in every direction — could finally focus on me, and all decisions were for me alone. In my head, I was starring in my own music video, recalling events from the day and making plans for myself for once.
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3. Nature reminds you that being unpredictable is okay.
My walks that became runs soon turned into nature hikes. I live near a river and we have a magnificent mile-long hiking trail down to the river banks. I walk it nearly every day and it reminds me how unpredictable nature can be.
I recall one glorious day where I decided to trek out with my camera in tow. I was enjoying photographing the flora and fauna when suddenly the bright sky turned black with a clap of thunder. My former self would have been perturbed to get caught in a rainstorm, but my newfound self tucked my camera in my jacket and ran through the forest, noticing the beauty of the glistening leaves before me and the sound of the raindrops.
Nature reminds me that being unpredictable is okay. In my “old” life, I was reluctant to do new things at the spur-of-the-moment. My introverted brain, always loving to plan everything out and overthink every situation. However, just recently, my family and I went on a camping trip to the beach on a whim. Yep, on a whim! My inner self didn’t even try and talk me out of it. We threw everything in the car, headed out into unknown territory, and had a blast. Nature has taught me that being spontaneous gives my introverted soul a sense of renewal. (And helps cure my overthinking brain for a while, too!)
4. Nature is inspiring — it can help unleash your creativity.
Since nature has come back into my life, my artistic side has been inspired. Even though we introverts tend to be creative, I’d been in a bit of an artistic lull — never knowing what to paint or photograph or in what direction to take my art. Now that mother nature has made her appearance in my life again, my ideas have been endless and, yep, you guessed it, my ideas have all been nature-related and inspired.
One very cold morning, I hiked to the top of a mountain in the Shenandoah to watch the sunrise. Of course, my camera was by my side and I captured the beauty of the orange sky surrounding the purple mountains. Since then, I have decided not only to print the photo of the mountain range, but also to work on a painting and some greeting cards. Once again, nature provided me with the creative space I needed.
In addition to landscapes, I enjoy getting up close with nature and photographing flowers and leaves. My photos have morphed into watercolor paintings, too, further indicating that my art these days is greatly influenced by nature. Nature has stimulated me — and provided me with endless possibilities — and I am thriving through my nature-inspired art.
Nature Is a Constant Reminder for Introverts to Appreciate Their Surroundings
Life as an introvert is a balancing act of working our way through societal norms and not losing sight of who we are. I cannot change the fact that I am introverted, but at least now, I am ready to accept it and understand it. Nature, through its beauty and calmness, encourages my introverted soul to step back from the hustle of life and appreciate my surroundings — and myself. Being immersed in nature and all of its glory, even its unpredictability, gives me the opportunity to reflect, to appreciate myself and all that is around me.
Now my typical week consists of blasting my own music on the way to work and a daily run or hike when I get home from a busy day. I can’t even imagine my days without nature and music, as they have become so interwoven in my life once again. Generally speaking, I am a much happier 40-something and I truly feel like it is because I rediscovered my introverted connection to nature and song. As an introvert, I sometimes get stuck inside my head, and nature allows me to do so peacefully, but also gets me motivated and recharged.