“Emotional duct tape” is all the things you do each day to keep it together, from napping to spending time on your passions.
The concept of emotional duct tape was introduced to me in one of the best books I’ve read to help me understand my introverted self, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You, by Holley Gerth. By “emotional duct tape,” I’m referring to all the little things we humans do throughout the day to keep ourselves “together.” To quote Gerth:
“As introverts, we need solitude to recalibrate our brains and nervous systems, process our thoughts, make decisions, figure out priorities, refuel for socializing, and reconnect with our true selves.”
That is why the things that make up my emotional duct tape feel so good to me! It enables me to give my overcharged nervous system a break, as well as my brain, spirit, and soul a much-needed chance to breathe and process my day. As introverts, alone time isn’t just a “good idea,” but necessary to thrive in a fast, noisy world that doesn’t cater to our need for quiet.
Emotional Duct Tape Is a Form of Self-Care (But Hear Me Out)…
Don’t worry, this is not another article to tell you to take time for self-care (well, it kind of is), but what I want you to know is that, as an introvert, your mind and body are crying out for it. I have had days (and still have some) where I feel like my nervous system is in overdrive, so much so that I can’t stay present. Instead, I’m constantly in my head of emotions and swirling thoughts, trying to manage my inner talk while also being around others.
But I have also learned that if I consistently apply my emotional duct tape each day, my chances of staying in the moment with the ones I love — and not in my head wrapped up in anxious thoughts — are much greater. And, as introverts, I think this is what we all ultimately want for our lives: to show up for it as present as possible.
All that said, here’s how I apply my emotional duct tape in my day-to-day life, and how you can, too.
7 Ways to Apply Emotional Duct Tape to Your Daily Life
1. Take a break at lunch for some alone time, whether you meditate, go for a walk, or journal.
I wish I could take a “time out” in the morning, but I am not an early-morning person. The more sleep, the better. So, no matter what the morning is like, I know that I will have a break to breathe and reflect after I eat lunch. Fellow introverts, I bet you can relate to needing some much needed alone time!
For me, this means a 5-15-minute meditation using my favorite app, Glo. After slowing down and meditating, I read a daily devotional and a chapter of scripture to go with it. Sometimes I also journal if I need to get some thoughts out.
Only after doing all of this (if I still have some free time), I will scroll Instagram purely for fun inspiration. I only get on social media once a day as a rule — and it’s also my fun place, not a place for me to vent or try to gain anything other than entertainment or a chance to encourage others. I work hard on maintaining limits when it comes to social media so that I am the one dictating my thoughts, and not others.
2. Drink hot herbal tea and eat healthy, nourishing foods.
I’ve been caffeine free for about three years now (other than dark chocolate!). I find that my anxiety and emotions are much more stable without it (especially in the mornings), and now I don’t even miss it. Research, too, has found that caffeine can contribute to anxiety. Luckily, there are lots of decaffeinated alternatives to regular coffee or tea, and you can even order most of your favorite ones without caffeine instead.
My favorite order at a coffee shop is a decaf almond milk flat white with cinnamon powder (iced in the summer, hot in the winter). I drink a decaf bio-coffee in the morning, and at least one or more cups of herbal tea a day. There are many you can buy specifically for calming effects, and my favorites are Rooibos Herbal Red Tea and Tulsi Ashwagandha. I’m instantly a happy person with a book in my hand and a steaming cup of hot tea right beside me.
I’m also a fan of healthy eating for a lot of reasons, but when it comes to taking care of yourself, it’s about more than calories. When you feed yourself nourishing foods (and not just convenient, off-the-shelf sugary ones), you’re giving your body soothing signals that you’re taking care of yourself. I also like to have a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. I find that if I go too long between meals, it can add to my anxiety, and I like to keep my body fueled and my mind at ease — especially since my introvert mind always seems to be “on.”
3. Nap often (daily if possible).
Nap often. Enough said. Even a 20-minute nap can do wonders to “reset” your brain. There is a great deal of research available on why taking a daily nap is good for your health. For example, napping increases the time spent in slow-wave and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, which are thought to play important roles in restoring the body and brain.
While naps are great for everyone, they’re probably even greater for introverts. They give our brains a chance to rest from decision-making and feelings of overwhelm. Napping also acts as an opportunity for our nervous systems to recalibrate and allows us to wake up with an improved mood.
To make your naps even more amazing, try them with #4…
4. Use a weighted blanket, which can help combat anxious energy.
When you settle in at night to read or watch TV with a warm cup of tea (see #2!), make sure to have a good weighted blanket that you can pull all the way up your chest to let the heaviness ground and comfort you. It’s been proven that weighted blankets provide the qualities of heaviness and stillness to counterbalance anxious energy. And, as an introvert, I like to get rid of anxious energy as much as possible.
If you don’t have one or don’t want to purchase one, a big heavy blanket folded into a square and placed on your torso will work well, too. The only downside? You won’t want to come out of this comfortable spot!
5. Calm your overthinking mind with aromatherapy.
If you combine scent with other ideas from this list, you’ll intensify the grounding effect, bringing you more into the present by using another one of your senses: smell. I love earthy smells, like frankincense, although other scents can help calm your overthinking mind, like lavender. Find which ones work for you the most or which ones bring up joyful memories.
It’s been proven that smell goes directly to the brain and impacts how you’re feeling. This is the same concept as why yoga and meditation are also helpful to alleviate feelings of mental overload and anxiety. Scent is another tool to get you into the present moment and out of your head, where we introverts live so much of the time.
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6. Say “no.”
Saying “no” is an essential life skill, even though it can be hard for introverts since some of us are people-pleasers. But, it’s important that we make a conscious effort to manage our energy. Saying “yes” to too many obligations can quickly drain us and make us miserable. If you can be honest with others about your “why” — and say something like X — they will be thankful that you want to bring the best version of yourself when you do spend time together.
7. Pursue your passion(s), even if in a small way.
If you’re hesitant to pursue your true passion(s), take a step anyway. I’m taking a step by writing this article, for instance, because I love to write. And I hope I can inspire you to do the same.
Being more fully yourself is a way to make you content like nothing else. I have to pay special attention to this one point more so than any of the others in this list. We introverts like to control our environment and manage change so that we don’t become overwhelmed. But if we never take a chance, we risk missing out on the best parts of life.
As for my passions, they are home design and writing. I recently received a degree for interior design, and whenever I spend my time designing or writing, my brain feels like it’s in “the zone.” There is no feeling like creating or doing whatever it is that you are passionate about, and I think we all have a special calling that we were uniquely designed for. Find out yours and don’t waste any time trying to be anything (or anyone) else.
Listen to Your Inner Introvert When It Comes to Your Emotional Duct Tape
Introverts, pay attention and learn what your body and mind need from you today, and be good to it. If your inner introvert takes over, treat yourself like you would a close friend or scared child and use your favorite methods of emotional duct tape. You would never treat someone else badly for feeling overwhelmed; instead, you would love and comfort them until they felt more like themselves. Now go do it for you. And I will be cheering you on with my hot cup of tea and weighted blanket.
Let’s connect as introverts. Find me at @laurencsanders.
You might like:
- The Science Behind Why We Absorb Others’ Emotions (and How to Deal)
- How to Feel More Confident and in Control as an Introvert
- 9 Signs You’re Overthinking Something
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