I live with an extrovert. My husband gets his energy from being around people and goes stir crazy when alone for too long. I’m the opposite. I’m an introvert who needs alone time regularly in order to feel grounded.
Through the years, we’ve managed to find a comfortable compromise in our relationship. I work very hard to avoid being passive-aggressive and just say what I need. He’s learned not to take it personally when I say I need to be alone.
It wasn’t always this way. When our children were young and I was teaching full-time, being alone was rare. I learned to actively look for ways to have time to myself, and then to make the most of those times.
I learned to stop waiting for the perfect situation, because it never came. There was no quiet cabin in the woods to watch deer. The gentle pitter-patter of rain on the roof was not the only sound during a storm. I never managed a blanket of snow outside while I snuggled, alone, with my coffee. These things sound amazing, but they just don’t happen.
Instead of wishing for the unlikely, I found ways to be creative and flexible. While life is busy, and we are busy caring for others, we introverts must remember to care for ourselves, too. We all know we’re better versions of ourselves when we can reset and recharge, even for just a few minutes. The key is to look for opportunities and appreciate them fully.
With a few adjustments, many of the things we do daily can be transformed into a small oasis of peace and tranquility, or at least a few moments of quiet. Here are five no-fuss self-care practices that work for me — I hope they help you, too.
No-Fuss Self-Care Ideas for Introverts
1. Just stop.
When your mind races all the time and you can’t stop the input (as is the case for many of us introverts), sometimes it takes a full stop to reset and recharge. Turn off the TV and any other noises in your house and simply sit. Stare into the abyss for a while. Meditate or practice mindfulness if you can wrangle your monkey brain. It doesn’t take long. A few minutes of simple quiet can do a lot for the introverted soul and mind.
If you can’t find the time in your house, try grabbing a few minutes in the car. Keep it quiet on the drive home or sit in the parking lot for a few minutes once you arrive at your destination.
In a pinch, there’s always the bathroom. Most adults will leave you alone when you’re in the bathroom, even if the kids won’t. Trust me, it’s worth trying!
2. Get creative.
Something about the flow of the ink from a good pen across quality paper just calms me immediately. It’s less about the words being written and more about the making of the words, the crafting of them, and the flow of the ink. I imagine it’s similar to what a painter experiences putting paint on canvas. Or a musician while playing an instrument. Or a baker kneading dough. You get the idea.
Allow the creativity to come through in your everyday activities. Make it about the process, not the product. Even with activity around you, you can create a bubble and let your mind rest as you focus on the small steps and details of the process.
3. A nap never hurts.
Enough said. Really, a comfy couch, a fluffy blanket, a good pillow, and a snuggly dog, cat, goat, or whatever you have will do. Don’t worry about the time of day. Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll sleep that night. If you’re exhausted, physically, emotionally, mentally… take a nap! You obviously need it.
4. Take a walk.
Again, it’s more about the process than the outcome. I’m talking about a walk that’s relaxing, not exercise. My extrovert unwinds by exercising. It relaxes him and enables him to think clearly. But intense exercise is definitely not how I relax. I hate sweating. I hate being hot. Things hurt in weird places, and I’m unhappy and stressed.
But a calm walk in nature can help with perspective and grounding. If you’re not a walker, think of things like Tai Chi, yoga, casual bike rides, or swimming. All of these things are good for you, whether or not you’re breaking a sweat and torching calories. Enjoying these activities without watching the pedometer, heart rate monitor, or calorie counter enables you to really enjoy the process of movement and focus on your body and how it feels. It’s a great way to counteract the emotional stress of the day and allow your mind to rest.
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5. Read a book.
Let someone else do the work. Get lost in the words of a great author and a great book. Don’t read for the lesson or to explore how he or she creates suspense or manages dialogue. Don’t read something just because you think you have to. That’s like homework, and we’re grown-ups.
We can read just for fun, for the story, and for the entertainment. Allow yourself to get lost in the words that someone else labored over, just for you, at this exact moment. Appreciate what they did, and give their words the attention they deserve. Accept the gift and revel in it.
When you do, you’ll be recharged enough to turn around and do a good turn for someone else in your own writing, or whatever you do that fulfills you and helps others.
What about you? What are some ways you unwind, reset, and recharge? Let me know in the comments.