For introverts, micro-recharging is made up of small things that add little refills to their energy cup, like snacking on an energy bar.
For a long time, I’ve known that I’m an introvert who needs time to recharge. And by “time to recharge,” I mean dedicated time to refill my social cup. It is a common thing for all introverts, the need to be alone and recharge our energy for social interactions. We can retreat for entire evenings, weekends, or even solo trips to replenish our energy. I particularly enjoy living alone, because it gives me extended alone time to simply enjoy my own company.
Over the years, I have discovered that I need more than big blocks of social-free time. This was especially true when I worked in an “extroverted” job that required hours of attending meetings with clients and colleagues, and the dreaded, never-ending small talk. To stay balanced, I began to build in what I called “micro-recharges” — small things that add a small refill to your cup, sort of like the way snacking on an energy bar temporarily reinvigorates you. It isn’t a replacement from the big recharge periods (the “meals” of your day). Rather, it is the snacks between those meals. I snack almost every day, and I micro-recharge almost every day, too.
These are seven ways I micro-recharge throughout my day, and how you, too, can use them to fill up your social cup in small deposits.
7 Ways to Micro-Recharge as an Introvert
1. Spend time in nature — take a walk during your lunch break.
When I worked in an office, I always tried to get away from my desk for 15 minutes a day and get some fresh air. I was lucky to always work near some kind of park where I could take a break. There is something about the openness of a public park that I, as an introvert, adore. If you don’t have a local park, you could try a walk around the block or to the nearest shop.
Breathe deeply, look at the scenery around you, and take a mental note of what you see. This is an almost meditative practice, which will give you a boost not only in the level of your social cup, but also an actual physical boost. Nature naturally recharges introverts — you’ll see!
The key to this recharge period is not to talk to anyone. Walking briskly — as though you know where you’re going — makes you look busy, and it’ll be less likely that people will approach you. Adding over-the ear-headphones or popping in earbuds helps with this, too.
2. Read a chapter of your favorite book (instead of going on social media).
I love to read, and over the years I’ve realized that escaping into someone else’s story is a good mini-break from my own. Plus, there is no one you actually have to talk to, because reading is a very solitary activity. Chapter lengths vary, as do our reading speeds, so you could aim to read a chapter of a fiction book, or perhaps one section of a nonfiction book. You can read something light, romantic, heavy, mysterious — the options are endless!
You can also recover seemingly “wasted” time this way. By having a book on hand, on your phone or in your bag, you can easily read a chapter instead of doomscrolling on social media, which can add to introvert anxiety.
3. Make a warm beverage, like a soothing cup of tea.
Hot drinks are a staple of the working day for many people, and they are an ideal moment to take a mini-recharge. Excusing yourself to make a hot drink isn’t unusual, and they’ll give you a few minutes of peace.
Even if a colleague ambushes you when making your drink, you then have a hot drink at your desk. You can take many small moments simply enjoying your drink, taking the moment to breathe, inhaling the steam, and shutting off the noise around you.
4. Drink lots (and lots) of water.
Getting, and drinking, lots of water is like making a hot drink. It gives you a break to grab the glass of water and then take your time to sip it. Plus, it’s good for you! It might not change your life, but it will give you a moment where you get to be away from people. And as an introvert, that time is gold.
Drinking a lot of water also leads to my next point…
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5. Take plenty of bathroom breaks.
Another escape I used to implement (and still do at social functions) is to take regular trips to the bathroom, even if I didn’t have to use the facilities. I would simply go into a stall, sit down, and take a minute to do some breathing exercises, stretch, or close my eyes and escape to somewhere else for a minute. (It’s no secret that we introverts are big daydreamers!)
In the current climate, you can also excuse yourself to simply wash your hands. No one will be suspicious that you keep disappearing, because these are things that all people do. You can simply do them a little more as an introvert and use it as a mini-recharge period.
6. Practice box breathing (which you can do anywhere!).
Meditating and breathwork techniques can be overwhelming when you haven’t done them before, but box breathing is one of my favorites and is super easy to do.
Box breathing involves simply breathing in and out for four beats (silently counted in your head) and holding your breath for four beats in between — breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold, repeat. You close your eyes and imagine drawing the first line of a box, then each subsequent line until the box is completely formed in your mind. Continue breathing this way, drawing boxes, for as long as you can escape from people without your absence being noted.
The breathing will help settle your nerves, but also help you escape to a place where there isn’t any chatter you have to be involved in. As an introvert, that is a dream for me. (I’m sure you can relate!)
7. Listen to an audiobook or podcast.
There is an almost unwritten rule not to talk to someone when they have headphones in (or on). As an introvert, I take advantage of this by wearing headphones in any moment I want to reclaim as a time to recharge.
Great times to sneak in mini-recharges are during commutes, on daily walks, and, recently, I have even started popping in headphones during my grocery shopping. I have an audiobook downloaded on my phone at any given time, and simply plug in my headphones and continue the chapter as I do the activity.
Listening to an audiobook keeps me out of conversations, allows me to mini-recharge, and I find that I’m “reading” more books than ever before. A complete win-win. If you’re into podcasts, that works, too. Anything that gets your mind out of the overwhelm you’re currently in will work.