The key to recharging as an introvert is being self-aware and seeing what works best for you (and what doesn’t).
Growing up, I didn’t know I was an introvert. In fact, for most of my teenage years, I was convinced otherwise. As someone who loved socializing and public speaking, I thought I was a stereotypical extrovert. There had been signs of my introversion, of course — like how I would feel drained whenever I had a sleepover with my friends or how I preferred deep, one-on-one conversations instead of the inevitable awkwardness of large parties.
After I broke down one summer, overstimulated and deprived of solitude when my extended family visited for two weeks, it formed a defining moment. Suddenly, my need for quiet reflection and time by myself was brought to the forefront.
Learning I Needed Space to Recharge
I started paying attention to how I felt before and after social events. I was always excited to meet my friends, but I liked having one day every weekend to myself — to listen to music, read a book, or have quiet conversations with my family. I needed space to recharge. What’s more, I was more alert and happier when I got these pockets of “me time.” I paid better attention to the people around me and could engage fully.
It made me put myself first and build that relationship from the ground up before branching out. I’ve learned a lot more about myself and my introverted side since that fateful summer. As a result, I’ve cultivated habits that help me stay engaged and social, as well as nurture the quieter side of me so I can properly recharge.
6 Tips for Socializing and Recharging as an Introvert
1. Know your limits and stick to them.
Everyone has their boundaries, and this varies from person to person since no two introverts are the same. I can spend an entire day out with friends, even talk late into the night, but I then need the next day to myself. Figure out what your limits are and stick to them. Just a note — limits are not the same as comfort zones.
Comfort zones can be stepped out of, little by little. You can try a new hobby, take a class that’s completely different from your major, and talk to candidates from the political party in opposition to yours. You’ll be uncomfortable, but it won’t hurt. On the other hand, spending more time socializing than you can handle doesn’t just cause discomfort — it can be completely draining. Stepping out of your comfort zone leads to growth, but denying your limits can harm your mental health.
2. Be as prepared as possible before socializing, like getting enough sleep the night before.
If you know you’re going to a concert, big party, or day-long outing, prepare beforehand. Make sure you get enough sleep the night before, eat well during the day, and check in with yourself. Even if it’s a quick thought while you’re heading to the restroom, ask yourself: How am I doing? Do I feel good? Am I having fun?
I’m someone who’s prone to getting cranky if I don’t get enough sleep or food (hangry — hungry + angry — is real, everyone). As preventative care, I’m mindful of sleeping well the night before I have plans, and I make sure to leave the house with a full stomach if catching a meal isn’t in the cards.
And if I have something planned for later in the day, I try to do something for myself earlier — like read a book or take my time reading the news with a cup of tea — so I don’t feel like my entire day (and energy) has gone into one event.
3. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to events you really don’t want to attend.
If the environment is overwhelming, or you’re feeling tired and sad, don’t be afraid to cut your losses and go home early — or skip the event altogether.
I went to a concert with friends on campus during my senior year of college. My friends wanted to stand up right against the stage, in the pit, centered away from the bleachers. Soon after the opening act, people began to press against me, the crowd pushing us right up to the metal railing separating the attendees from the stage.
A rapper came up to perform, his tracks playing around with the bass line. The music set my blood pounding against my skull and the lack of space left me breathless.
I tried to stay as long as I could, but when I started to feel nauseous, I told my friends I was feeling sick and would meet them afterwards. They understood, and after a walk home and lying down for a while, I was happier when I met my friends again later the same evening.
Mainly, practice self-care, and if you need to go home (like I did) and decompress for a while, do it. It’s also okay to stay home and forgo the event altogether.
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4. Be sure to make time for yourself and have plenty of me-time.
This is incredibly important, and different for everyone. I like going for a walk or reading when I have “me time.” My friend likes watching Netflix. Someone else once told me their ideal way to unwind is by painting while listening to podcasts. Whatever works for you, find it and do it when needed.
I spent a day with my friends recently. They had stayed over for the night, and when they left the following evening, I sat with my journal and a bottle of water, penning my thoughts in a quiet corner of the house. Afterwards, I read a book while snacking on cereal before heading to bed. I could have gone to sleep right after they left, but I was too wound up. Making time to relax helped me calm down and settle in to rest.
5. Find or create nurturing spaces, like an “introvert zen zone.”
It could be your bedroom, a lounge, the library, or a little corner by the window. No matter how big or small, it pays to have a designated space to unwind, like an “introvert zen zone” or sanctuary to call your own.
If you don’t already have these in mind, you can choose any place that will offer you relative solitude and that you can access freely. I say relative, because I can still unwind in a room with my family members, provided they don’t draw attention to themselves and let me do my own thing. Again, this won’t work for everyone. Find a space you can relax in and give others a heads up, too, so you can have as much peace as possible.
If you don’t have one, you can try to create one. If your bedroom is too cluttered to be soothing, clean it up and rearrange things so it becomes a calming area you can retreat to. Sometimes it isn’t that easy, and our homes, or the situations in our homes, don’t allow for much breathing room. In that case, feel free to venture outside. I can’t remember the number of times a long, indulgent walk (while listening to music and visiting my favorite neighborhood haunts) didn’t provide the same relief that a small, sunlit corner of the house did.
6. Build introvert-friendly activities into your routine.
This is exactly what it sounds like. If you have one or two things that are tried and true in helping you center yourself, incorporate them into your daily life. As far as introvert-friendly activities go, I’ve always loved walks, and I’ve started going on more of them recently, both to get space and clear my head. Sometimes, I also do art and paint if my inner world gets too noisy.
In addition, I drink around 2-3 cups of tea every day, something I find incredibly soothing. It isn’t just about drinking tea. The fact that I take time out of my day and concentrate on building something just for myself to enjoy helps create a small bubble of happiness. It makes me grateful for the little things. Plus, tea goes with everything — reading, writing, work, TV, and those deep conversations we introverts so love.
The Key to Recharging as an Introvert Is Being Self-Aware and Seeing What Works for You (and What Doesn’t)
This list is far from exhaustive. If anything, it’s more of a starter kit. The key is to be self-aware. As time goes by, it’ll be easier to know what works for you and what doesn’t. For example, I still like concerts, but I can’t do loud parties. Big parties with people I know well are completely okay, but a gathering of five or more where I only know two people? Still good, but I wouldn’t spend a day with them. Just me and a close friend? Perfect.
Despite the common misconception out there, we introverts are social people — in our own way. I still love spending time with my friends and meeting new people. I still find public speaking a thrilling experience. But now, however, I know where I stand on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, how much I can stand, and how to work around that. And it’s made all the difference in the world.
Being an introvert is often a balancing act. I hope this list helps you figure out how to balance your life and put all aspects that are important to you first.
My fellow introverts, what tips would you add? Feel free to share in the comments below!