In their alone time, introverts reflect on their emotions and experiences, which is a very healthy thing to do.
A time of solitude is the best gift you can give an introvert. It’s also essential for them to thrive. Unfortunately, this need is often misunderstood by the extroverted world. As a result, we introverts must prioritize self-care to ensure our mental health and well-being.
Before we get into the value of “me time” for introverts, let’s take a look at our needs.
What Do Introverts Need?
Research has discovered that there are chemical reasons introverts prefer silence and solitude. It involves dopamine, which forms part of your brain’s pleasure and reward system. The release of dopamine makes us feel happy and motivated, and compensates for the energy we expend on specific activities. (Read more about the science behind why introverts need alone time here.)
Introverts need less dopamine to feel happy. But extroverts need more, which explains why they can socialize for hours on end to satisfy their need for social contact.
Another chemical that directs introverts’ behavior is acetylcholine. This chemical creates a feeling of happiness when performing any activity with an inward focus, like reflection or engaging in a hobby.
For example, I remember one New Year’s Eve visit with my in-laws, where we just had to stay until midnight. No problem, right? Yet it quickly depleted my internal resources, leaving me irritable and grumpy. The way I disengaged from everyone might have been considered rude, but I was just socially exhausted.
2. Quiet and calm
Introverts, many of whom are also highly sensitive, are quickly overwhelmed by sensory stimulation. According to research, this is because they process sensory inputs, like light, noise, and smell, on a deeper level, leaving them exhausted and overwhelmed. (Read 27 “strange” things you might do because you’re a highly sensitive person here.)
As an introvert with hearing loss, I am susceptible to — and quickly overwhelmed by — sound, leading to noise fatigue. In addition to this, the mental energy required to lip-read, hear, and understand conversations adds additional strain, leading to even more exhaustion and overwhelm.
3. Meaning in their lives
Introverts make sense of their world through reflection. And introverts who are empaths are finely-tuned to other people’s emotions, so they can use reflection to process (and ultimately create a healthy distance from) these emotions.
Furthermore, they tend to be self-aware and introspective, staying in touch with their inner world; they explore their thoughts and feelings to understand their desires and motivations.
Introverts can easily be accused of daydreaming — which is a good thing! — because they spend much time thinking about complex issues, ideas, and creative problem-solving.
But we introverts must be careful not to fall into the trap of overthinking when faced with challenging situations. I can easily create the most ridiculous scenarios if I don’t control my thoughts. The solution is to distract yourself with introvert-friendly activities, like reading or creative activities.
Alternatively, follow specific steps to solve the problem at hand. For example, listing pros and cons can help you decide on a course of action. Or, write down possible solutions to your problem.
Now, let’s get into the benefits of having regular “me time” as an introvert.
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The Benefits of Regular Me Time for Introverts
1. It improves your mental and emotional well-being.
We introverts use our time alone to reflect on our emotions and experiences. This is very healthy!
Engaging in creative activities helps us unwind, relax, and healthily express our feelings. The sense of accomplishment we feel when completing a creative project also boosts our self-esteem.
2. It restores and recharges your energy.
As an introvert, it is a simple joy to have my home all to myself. Even if I don’t have anything specific planned, I revel in the silence — and nobody demands anything from me. It is the best way to recharge, even if I have to take care of chores, such as washing dishes or tidying up.
But my favorite way to recharge is still quiet time, reading with my dog sleeping on my lap. Feeling her body heat and the softness of her hair while lightly petting her creates a unique feeling of comfort and belonging that always helps to restore my energy.
3. It boosts self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Me time offers us the opportunity for reflection — without any distractions. It is a time to work through upsetting incidents by reflecting on what happened, our reactions, and clarifying the emotions they may evoke.
Me time offers a way to let go of these emotions when we realize we handled the situation as best as we possibly could handle it at the time. Then we can reflect on finding better ways to deal with challenging situations in the future.
Okay, this all sounds good, you think. But how can you fit more me time into your life? Here are some ideas.
How to Create More Me Time
1. Create a safe space to recharge.
To fully recharge, you need a safe space to be alone, like an introvert sanctuary or “zen zone.” It can be a comfy room or corner in your home, or a secluded corner in your yard or garden. If you’re inside, ensure that you have natural lighting or a good light source.
Although silence can be soothing, sometimes you may want to listen to your favorite music, so make sure that’s handy. Or use white noise to lessen the impact of irritating background noise, like if others are home.
Proper ventilation is essential, too. Opening windows can help keep you cool in summer, while cozy blankets can help keep you comfortable in winter.
2. Set boundaries and protect your alone time.
Not only am I an introvert, but I also have hearing loss, which leads to noise fatigue. This is another reason I need plenty of quiet time.
Educate your friends and family about your need for quiet time. If they understand your need for silence, they will be more willing to accommodate you.
Plan specific quiet times in your schedule. Not only will it ensure that you have enough time for reflection and activities to recharge your energy, but it will also make it easier for others to respect your me time.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
3. Do activities alone.
Pursuing hobbies and interests creates a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment for introverts; we like to have meaning in the things we do. There are many to choose from, such as embroidery, crocheting, needlework, origami, learning how to play an instrument, etc. Or, you can seek out a physical activity, like hiking, cycling, bird watching, and so forth.
Experiment with various activities; challenge and broaden your skill set until you find the perfect hobby that resonates with you.
Research has proven that reading fiction puts your brain in the same relaxed state as during meditation — even when reading just six minutes a day. When you read fiction, your brain experiences events as if you are experiencing them yourself. So, daily fiction reading can provide a healthy way to escape reality, de-stress, recharge, and improve emotional health.
Writing, too, can help you create order in your thoughts and get all those upsetting emotions on paper. Through journaling, you create distance from, and gain insight into, your thoughts and emotions. That way, you can evaluate and validate them, and objectively look for solutions to your problems.
For example, I am part of an art group that offers different artistic activities monthly. Not only is this a way to challenge and expand my skills, but it also contributes to my emotional well-being when expressing my feelings through various artistic mediums. And it offers a way to de-stress and practice mindfulness for improved mental health.
4. Be selective about your social connections.
As a Christian, I am part of a small group of women who meet weekly on Saturday mornings. It is a safe place where I can share my struggles and joys. We learn from each other and engage in meaningful conversations about the Bible and our faith.
Based on your interests, you, too, can join small groups to participate in activities like hiking, cycling, various arts and craft activities, cooking together, and so on.
As you get to know the group’s people, you can engage in in-depth conversations about common challenges and experiences. Even if you don’t talk much, you can still find comfort in the sense of community you experience.
These social interactions will strengthen your resilience, help with depression and anxiety, and boost your mental health.
But, too much socializing can lead to an “introvert hangover.”
How to Incorporate Me Time in Your Routine
To get enough me time, you must advocate for yourself, explaining your need for quiet time to friends and family.
With the modern busy lifestyle, you must schedule your me time and plan specific self-care activities, such as taking your dog for a walk every day, making time for reading, or even something as simple as undisturbed time soaking in a bubble bath.
My advice? Be selective about the social events you attend. Instead of attending a big event with friends, spend a quiet evening with them sharing a simple meal. Or if you must attend a special occasion — like a birthday celebration — stay for a limited amount of time only, not all night.
Now, considering the importance of me time for mental and emotional health and well-being, what will you do today to add it to your daily schedule? Let me know in the comments.