It wasn’t until I began to simplify my life and create more time for solo walks, long writing sessions, and other quiet, thoughtful things that I realized I was an introvert. I love connecting with other humans, but I need them all to go away for a little while every day, too.
After I posted this image on Instagram with the caption, “I adore spending time with people I love but the only way I can really show up for them, engage, and connect is by spending time alone. You too?” a kind soul commented, “This is definitely me, but I have such a hard time taking time for myself! I usually feel guilty. Any tips?”
Her question inspired this article, because I know if she’s feeling guilty for craving time alone, you might be, too.
How to Take More Time for Yourself, Guilt-Free
Here are seven ways you can start taking more time for yourself and stop feeling guilty about it.
1. Explore the guilt. When I feel bad or guilty about something, I write it down. I write all my thoughts and feelings on paper so I can really examine what’s going on, instead of letting my mind get carried away. Write it down and ask yourself the following questions:
- How can I feel guilty for taking care of myself?
- Why don’t I trust people enough to let them know what I need?
- If a friend needed alone time, would I fault them for it or support them?
Leave your guilt on paper and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Remember that you aren’t just serving yourself when you set apart time to recharge, but also everyone around you. By taking care of yourself first, you’ll have more energy and attention for the people you love.
2. Tell people what you need. “I need some time to be alone” doesn’t mean “I don’t want to spend time with you.” It means, “I want to take care of myself so I can enjoy the time we spend together.”
Don’t apologize for asking for what you need. Let people know if you need some time to yourself or would rather stay home while they go out.
Ask what fuels them, too. Let’s support each other in living our best lives even if we don’t always understand or take care in the same way.
3. Simplify. Clutter on the outside can feel like clutter on the inside. When you have too much stuff in your home or on your calendar, you might feel overwhelmed, distracted, or anxious. By choosing less on the outside, you may experience more peace on the inside—and get more time to yourself.
Simplicity soothes the heart of an introvert in the following ways. Simplicity…
- Creates time for long walks into solitude.
- Gives you permission to create boundaries.
- Provides more clarity, which results in less distraction.
- Invites you to pay attention to what matters most and let the rest go.
- Contributes to a good night of sleep.
- Allows you to be present and connect with loved ones.
- Can give you more freedom to search for the work that becomes you.
- Gives you the awareness to listen to what your body, heart, and soul need to thrive.
- Reminds you that you don’t need to prove anything anymore. You are enough.
- Is the way back to love. By simplifying your life and eliminating things that don’t matter, you will find your way back to the people you love, a life you love, and the work you love.
4. Be alone together. Even though my husband is an extrovert, when we hike together, I have space to process thoughts. We can be “alone” together. You can hang out with someone you love and read or do other things alone together. If you have young children, think about activities that will keep them engaged while you take a little time for yourself—even if you are all in the same room.
5. Identify your sanctuaries. Choose a few places where you love to be alone and recharge. Identify a few emergency getaway spots, too. For instance, you may love to sit on a park bench and read for the afternoon, but if you only have a few minutes, a closet or bathroom may be the perfect place for a few deep breaths. Your sanctuary may not be a location, but rather an activity like knitting, writing, or hiking. These are sacred places to go and fill your heart.
6. Say no. If you struggle to protect your time, use one or more of these 10 simple ways to help you say no. My favorite strategy is to keep my “no” short and sweet. Author Anne Lamott says, “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” Expand when you need to, but still keep it short. In just a few sentences, you can say no with gratitude. “No thank you. I appreciate you thinking of me, but I have another commitment” is better than a long explanation about how busy and sorry you are.
7. Build a reserve. Don’t wait until you are completely “peopled out” to take time to refuel. Take a little time each day to walk alone, write, read, or do whatever you need to build a reserve of calm and comfort. Then you can show up—all the way—for the people you love.
There’s no time for guilt about who we are and what we need—especially when it comes to loving up our people. Less time spent on guilt will allow more time spent on the love.
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Image credit: @han via Twenty20