Life can be hard for everyone at times, but the world can be especially hard for introverts in many ways.
An estimated 25% of the population are introverts, but the majority of people don’t really understand that just existing in the world can be a struggle at time, that’s why self-care for introverts is really important to avoid burnout and overwhelm.
An introvert is someone who feels drained from socializing, while extroverts feel energized by socializing. There is of course a spectrum between the two.
Some introverts can do more socializing than others. Some are chatty, others are quiet. Some like going out for a little while, others hate going out and only do so when they absolutely have to.
Society values people who are outgoing. People who can socialize easily and make small talk about anything. Watch any tv show or movie about teenagers or young adults, what do they spend a lot of time doing? Going to parties and hanging out. The media never shows that some people need down time after socializing.
Every introvert knows what it feels like to hit a wall when you’ve had too much of the world. You feel tired, overwhelmed, grumpy, and you just want to shut down and escape. Self-care helps us to cope when we’ve reached our limit.
Just existing in the world as an introvert can be hard
A big part of growing up is participating in school. Teachers expect you to ask and answer questions, team up in groups, give presentations, etc. Parents get concerned when their child prefers playing alone in their bedrooms instead of playing outside with other kids.
Most high school kids enjoyed dances, I avoided them like the plague. Other kids loved summer camp, I came home early.
Once you’re done with school you’re still expected to interact with the world in a certain way.
Employers often favor those who are a ‘people person,’ not understanding that those of us who are a bit more reserved can do just as good a job as more outgoing people.
When I’ve filled out job applications there is sometimes a personality test that you have to take. They don’t just ask how you would problem solve, they ask how you socialize with people, and that is an important part of the work dynamic, but there is clearly a right and wrong answer on these tests.
It’s can also be necessary to network to get ahead in your career, which can be an extremely painful process for many introverts.
My struggle as an introvert
My interactions with the world has shown me how important self-care is for introverts. Not all introverts have had the same experience as me but I think many will be able to relate and I hope sharing my story will help some feel less alone.
As a kid I was definitely shy around new people and environments, and stayed that way until my late 20s. Though I was shy I don’t think I felt ‘tired’ around people the way I do now, but maybe that was just because kids have unlimited batteries or I don’t remember.
I think I really became a quiet introvert sometime after puberty. It didn’t help that I felt so awkward in my body and my skin that I initially wanted to hide from people for that reason. I already felt ‘wrong’ in my body, and the interactions I had with people made me feel even worse.
So many times, especially in my later teenage years and twenties, I had countless people ask “why are you so quiet, what’s wrong with you?”
I had teachers ask “do you even have friends?”
I was constantly hassled by my mother to come out of my bedroom and “be with the family,” when I really just needed peace and quiet.
I had someone tell me I was going to kill myself because I didn’t want to talk to her.
When I did talk people would mockingly exclaim, “oh my god, you actually talk!” Which just made me not want to talk that much more.
I spent so much time feeling like I was wrong or broken, not understanding why I couldn’t just be normal.
And the more people rudely demanded I be like them and come out of my shell the more I retreated out of the need to protect myself. The more I noticed that people were uncomfortable with my reserved nature the more anxious I became in social situations.
It became a toxic cycle where I didn’t want to go many places because I wanted to avoid people commenting on my introverted nature at all cost.
I’ve had to put up boundaries between me and a world that doesn’t accept introverts, and that’s a really sad thing. With interactions like that, it’s no wonder introverts shut down and need space to recharge.
Why do we get overwhelmed so easily?
As we talked about in my last post, How to Care for Introverts, our brains are more sensitive to external stimulation. We’re taking in more information through our senses than someone who is extroverted.
While an extrovert’s brain can narrow its focus on one thing, we’re more aware of the sights and sounds around what we’re trying to focus on.
Additionally it takes our brains more time to process what we’re observing because data takes a longer route through our brains.
Because we are taking in all this information we get tired and overwhelmed quickly. This is why self-care for introverts is so important.
How can introverts recharge?
Introverts feel tired after socializing, so they feel and function better when they take the time to recharge and practice self-care.
Some introverts might need this time every day, others might only need a hour or two each week.
It’s important to know what works for you. It you always feel worn down you may need to take some extra time for self-care.
If you’ve got a busy schedule set aside time just for you.
I know practicing self-care can feel selfish, but you have to understand that you can’t give your best to your job, partner, or kids if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
When introverts take the time for self-care we function so much better in all areas of our lives. Here are activities introverts enjoy!
Self-Care for Introverts
1. Turn off the noise
As we learned, introverts are more sensitive to stimulation. Noise can be a big source of over stimulation, so sometimes I find it helpful to separate myself from any source of noise that’s overwhelming me.
You can either enjoy silence, or put on relaxing background music. I love putting rain, fireplace, or ocean ambience videos on Youtube.
2. Turn off the lights
Visual stimulation can run us down too. Sometimes turning off the lights and closing the blinds for a while can ease over stimulation.
Or, you can just spend time in a room that feels calm and comforting to you.
3. Nap or just lay down for 20 minutes
If possible take 20-30 minutes to nap or just lay down.
I’m not able to fall asleep during the day but I find just laying down in a dark and quiet room helps me recharge.
Reading has been one of my favorite self-care activities since I was a kid, and it’s actually proven to reduce stress!
Introverts have a lot going on in our heads, so it can feel good to turn off the internal dialog by immersing ourselves in another world or learning something new.
If you like personal development I have a list of my top 12 favorite self improvement books. I also have a fall reading list and a winter reading list with recommendations in multiple genres you may enjoy.
5. Get fresh air
Fresh air can clear your head and make you feel refreshed and energized. Sit outside or take a walk.
Take some slow deep breaths, get some vitamin d, appreciate all the forms of life around you.
Appreciate the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves and the birds singing.
Appreciate that there is always enough air for you to breathe and thank your lungs for working for you everyday.
6. Go shopping by yourself
While going to a store will have lots of sources of stimulation, you don’t have to engage with it. You can just be in your little bubble while strolling through Target or wherever you like to shop.
7. Set boundaries
It’s important for introverts to set boundaries. Sometimes we don’t protect our energy as well as we should. We have to set boundaries for people who tend to drain our energy, for the demands people place on us, and even for ourselves if we tend to push too hard and not take breaks when should.
Get comfortable telling people no. If they have an issue with that it’s their problem, not yours. Here are some tips to set boundaries with toxic people.
Scent is one of your senses and some scents can help you relax. Whether its essential oils or a delicious smelling candle, use your favorite scents to send calming signals to your brain.
We introverts generally love to be at home, it’s our safe space. We can maximize those good feelings by making our space as tidy and cozy as possible.
Your environment can energize you or drain you. If your space is messy and cluttered it can create visual over stimulation and drain your batteries. When your space is clean it allows your brain to relax and feel calm.
So whether you enjoy cleaning or not, spending 15-30 minutes tidying your space can be a form of self-care for introverts because afterwards you just feel so good and can enjoy your space more.
10. Don’t compare yourself to extroverts
This is a big one. The world really expects people to be a certain way and it’s all too easy to compare ourselves to extroverts who seem to interact with the world much easier than we do.
If you’ve been comparing yourself to extroverts start to tell yourself a different story. It’s ok to be different, it’s ok to need space from people and the world. It’s ok to be a hermit sometimes. There is nothing wrong with you, you are exactly who you are supposed to be.
11. Take a long drive
Introverts enjoy being at home, but sometimes it feels good to just go for a long drive. If you can drive somewhere with nice scenery and low traffic go there! Put on some good music, or just drive in silence and let your mind wander.
12. Take a solo weekend away
Having a weekend alone is so good for our mental health. Book a weekend away, get some space, devote that time to just relaxing and caring for yourself.
13. Have a warm bath or shower
Honestly my favorite part of the day is taking a hot shower after dinner.
Washing the day off is a great form of self-care. If you have a tub light some candles and take a bubble bath.
If you just have a shower you can still set the mood with relaxing music and nice smelling body wash.
14. Drink something warm and comforting
Sometimes the best self-care for introverts is to just make a warm drink and sit for a few minutes without any technology. Savor every sip, really taste the flavors. I don’t know about you but using a cute mug makes the experience even better.
15. Turn off your phone
Take a few hours to turn off your phone or put it in another room. We can all be a little too connected to social media or text chains, it’s good to take a break and be a little more present.
16. Watch tv alone
Introverts spend a lot of time thinking, it’s nice to just turn our brains off for a while and enjoy a tv show or movie.
17. Put on your most comfortable clothes
I like to start the day in my going outside, productive adult clothing, but when you need to recharge comfy clothes are where its at. If you’re feeling drained mid day or when you get home from work put on your comfy clothes.
If you like to look ‘cute’ then get some cute pjs, if you don’t care that’s cool too! Wear whatever makes you feel really good.
18. Create a recharging zone
Designate a specific space that is your recharging station. Where will you go when you need to unwind that is the most comfortable, relaxing, and calming space?
If it’s your bed get really soft sheets, pretty bedding, and cute throw pillows.
If taking a bath is part of your self-care routine clean your bathroom really well, organize your cabinet, have minimal clutter on the counters, get matching towels and rugs that are soft, and put out a candle and a pretty jar for bath salts or bath bombs.
If baking relaxes you tidy your kitchen. Clear off the countertops. Organize the drawers and cabinets with your baking supplies. Get some matching storage.
If you love reading set up a cozy chair with a cute pillow and soft blanket.
If being outside is your zen place make your backyard or patio really lovely. Put up string lights, get a cute outdoor rug, get a comfy chair or hammock.
Wherever you love to be, make it as beautiful and soothing as you possibly can!
19. Create a solo morning routine
My morning routine is one of my favorite parts of the day. I’m up before everyone else and love having an hour of peaceful quiet time to myself.
As soon as I wake up I meditate and spend at least a minute thinking of what I’m grateful for and setting my intention for the day. Then I get ready for the day, cuddle the dogs, and spend a little time on the computer checking emails.
Here are 7 awesome morning routine ideas.
20. Create a solo night routine
I love having a routine to unwind in the evening. After I take a hot shower and put on comfy pjs I set the mood by just having my bedside lamp on or string lights and it helps me relax and get prepared for rest.
Just before bed I do about 5 minutes of stretching. Then I put the dogs to bed and put on a meditation audio. You can read more about my night routine here.
21. Cook or bake something delicious
Food can make you feel so good. It can be cool and refreshing or warm and comforting. It can bring up special memories and make you think of certain seasons. Cooking and baking is a magical way to practice self-care.
22. Care for plants
Having indoor plants has been scientifically proven to increase your health and happiness!
They not only produce oxygen but they also reduce toxins in the air.
On top of that they increase productivity by up to 15%, reduce stress, and improve your mood! If you have a desk at work they are a great way to make your days better.
I haven’t had an indoor plant before but after my research I’m getting one.
23. Spend time with someone who makes you feel good
If there is someone in your life who makes you feel good call them for a chat or get together for a few hours.
I don’t have to tell you about the benefits of exercise but I will.
Exercise increases your endorphins (happy hormones) and reduces stress. Whether that’s walking, running, jump roping (it can burn just as many calories as running without the stress on your body), yoga, pilates, dancing, any form of movement that gets your heart rate up or encourages deep breathing is good.
Here is some great home gym equipment that doesn’t take up much space.
This might sound like a dumb suggestion but trust me it’s not! Intentionally breathing can lower stress hormones in the body, lower blood pressure, stimulate the lymphatic system, and recharge your introvert battery.
I have a lovely meditation to ease anxiety:
26. Vent to your journal
Sometimes you just need to vent. A journal can be a great way to do this. Getting out all your angst can help you to let it go. If journaling doesn’t make you feel better though don’t do it!
Here are some journal prompts for self-reflection.
27. Listen to music
Listening to music can be very healing whether you need to recharge or not.
Maybe you’re working from home and you need to shut out other stimulation and distractions and improve your focus.
Or maybe you need to block out the world and be transported to another place for a while.
Go on Spotify and find or make a new playlist or listen to a favorite album. I love making seasonal playlists. Now that it’s fall I’m listening to Taylor Swift’s Red and folklore a lot because those are the perfect cozy autumn albums.
28. Have a solo date night
Treat yourself to a fancy date night! You don’t even have to leave the house.
Take a shower, put on a nice outfit, cook yourself an amazing meal or order delivery from your favorite restaurant, light candles, pour yourself something bubbly, and enjoy yourself!
After a good meal watch your favorite movie with popcorn and dessert.
I hope this list gave you some new ideas for ways to practice self care for introverts, and even non-introverts because these ideas will be enjoyable for everyone.
Need some self-care when you’re short on time? Here are 25 ideas for self-care in 10 minutes or less.