A Therapist Explains How Introverts Can Increase and Protect Their Energy

An introvert lies down on the grass

In the same way that we honor our needs of hunger and thirst, we deserve to honor our needs as introverts.

As an introverted therapist who spends most of my day talking to people, I’ve had to find ways to recharge my energy — so I can be present for my clients, my loved ones, and myself.

Growing up in the ‘90s, there was not much talk about introversion. So, instead of honoring my desire to decompress at home after a long day at school, many times, I let myself be dragged out to events with family or friends. As a result, I often came home grumpy and exhausted. When I tried to get out of things and stay home, the adults in my life worried that I was not developing socially; they saw my love of solitude as concerning.

Learning About Introversion Was a Game-Changer

Often, I thought there was something wrong with me for wanting to spend so much time alone. Learning about introversion lifted such a weight off my chest. Now I know that we introverts are wired differently than extroverts — and some people just require more solitude than others to recharge. 

Now I’m a proud introvert who continues to find ways to navigate living in an extroverted world. I share the following tips with all my introverted therapy clients, and I’d like to share these tips with you, as well. I consider it a privilege to be at a place in my life where I not only understand my wiring as an introvert, but I also get to practice these tools, as well. 

How Introverts Can Better Preserve Their Energy

1. Know, and act on, your boundaries and limits.

With most things in life, we often discover our boundaries and limits after they have been crossed.

The other weekend, for example, I attended four get-togethers, which is more socializing than I usually do! It took me days to recover — the introvert hangover is real — and I’d used up every ounce of my social battery. I had ignored the signs that I had overextended myself: tiredness, being irritated by minor annoyances that I’d typically overlook, and dreading upcoming social events (even when they were with people whose company I enjoy).

I like to think of knowing your limits not just in terms of frequency, but also duration. For example, perhaps you recognize that you start to shut down around the two-hour mark at a dinner party. That is helpful information to keep in mind the next time you go out.

Insight can only go so far, however. Once we learn our limits, we have to act on them. So, give yourself permission to leave a party early or to say no when your social calendar is feeling full.

Also, take note of what it feels like in your body when your social battery is low. Do you feel grouchy? Fatigued? In your head and not in the present moment? Do you start to daydream what it would be like to be in your pajamas at home instead? 

Know the signs — and then act. In the same way that we honor our needs of hunger and thirst, we deserve to honor our needs as introverts. Remember, no is a complete sentence. It doesn’t serve us — or others — to be at a party or an event but not truly be present.

2. Plan “protected time” into your day.

Setting routines can help with turning insight into actions. I used to think that morning and evening routines were overrated. But after implementing what I consider “protected time” for myself — to start and end my day — it has helped so much. Now I have built-in decompression times during the day. 

Now I look forward to my mornings, when I listen to a podcast and make some tea, followed by engaging in some light movement. I also look forward to my evening shower, reading a book, and journaling. Everyone’s schedules and responsibilities look different, but even just a few minutes of intentional “me time” can go a long way. 

Many clients say to me, “But, Catherine, I have no time!” I validate their experiences that time can feel scarce, especially for those who are parents. But we also discuss how even just a few minutes throughout the day — doing things like deep breathing or watching cute dog videos — can be better than nothing.

I talk to my clients about the 1 Percent Rule, which is about finding ways to make each moment incrementally better by just a little bit. So, ask yourself: What are some ways that you can honor your introversion and create ways to recharge — even just 1 percent?

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

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3. Tune into your body and notice what recharges you.

Determining what is restful for you, and what recharges you, can be a helpful tool. Many introverts easily feel overstimulated, so finding a quiet space can be a good start. Some ideas that have come up with my clients are taking a solo walk, listening to music, listening to podcasts, creating art, going on drives, reading, cuddling an animal, crocheting, and countless others. Our bodies have all of the wisdom that we need, so tune into your body and observe what activities replenish you. 

On the flip side, sometimes what we think is restful may not be. On paper, scrolling on social media may seem restful, but it might not always feel restful. Similarly, watching TV may feel restful to a point, but afterwards, it may start to feel more depleting. In relationships, too, perhaps there are certain people who make you feel more depleted than others. Again, your body will give you the wisdom that you need, so pay attention to it. 

My personal favorite ways to wind down? Spending time with my dog, doing yoga and breathwork, taking walks, and listening to podcasts. So, experiment and see what works best for you.

4. Communicate your needs, especially to extroverts.

It can take some courage to be honest with others about our needs, but it can bring us closer to them — and it can also help them better understand us and our boundaries. So, practice being honest about when you need time and space to decompress.

Often, I find that people think they need a “legitimate” excuse to say no to others. But taking time to rest is more than enough of a reason to set limits. After all, some of us just come with a lower battery life than others.

Since our battery is not always visible to others, it’s important that we advocate for ourselves. The results? More peace, more energy, and less resentment for overstretching ourselves. 

When starting to implement this practice in my life, I found it to be anxiety-provoking. When I was younger, it seemed easier to make up excuses instead of being honest about why I was not showing up for something. “Being tired” did not seem like a good enough excuse.

However, just like we wouldn’t let our phone battery go down to 0, we, too, deserve to take the time to pause and recharge our own batteries. I think the beauty of being honest with others is that it encourages, and gives permission to, others to do the same.

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