Self-care is crucial for personal wellbeing, no matter who we are. However, introverts in particular often have a hard time understanding and enforcing habits of authentic self-care and nourishment.
In this modern-day culture we find ourselves in, the norm is to get more done, to stay connected, and to stay stimulated. In the words of author and lecturer Susan Cain:
We have always been to some extent a society that favours action over contemplation.
For introverts that gain energy by being less outwardly involved, the contradiction is apparent.
So how, as introverts, can we be both a part of this society while retaining our sense of vitality and wellbeing? How can we mindfully practise self-care in a world that quietly tells us to keep busy and stay connected?
Self-awareness is the first step
Becoming clear about our needs as they shift from moment to moment is the initiatory stage in mindfully prioritizing introvert self-care. However, this requires more than simple recognition. In order to both recognize and honour our needs for care, we are called to:
- Be mindful of the fact that some people won’t understand our requirements for increased space and solitude – and to honour those needs anyway.
- Practice unconditional self-acceptance, honouring our right to be different than that of our co-worker, partner, family member, or friend.
- Witness and release our own limiting beliefs about self-care. Is there any part of our own dialogue that doesn’t validate our need to step back?
- Compassionately and confidently communicate our needs and limits to those around us.
- Embrace the changing nature of our self-care needs. As introverts, we might sometimes feel deeply nourished by more outward activities. Can we honour our inner landscape as it shifts?
Through self-inquiry, we gain a better sense of and appreciation for who we are and what we require to feel balanced and well. And, once we begin to honour our needs on a deeper level, we might explore the following practices to support ourselves:
5 Mindful Ways to Practice Introvert Self-Care
1. Start each morning device-free
Once upon a time, we could retreat to our homes when we needed to disconnect. Now, our phones, computers, and other personal devices mean connection and stimulation are constantly at our fingertips. All of us – and introverts in particular – can benefit from remaining mindful of these connections – and from starting our mornings free of them with some introvert self-care.
If possible, a nourishing way to begin the morning is by being attuned to our direct environment alone. By having your phone plugged in in another room and using an old-fashioned alarm clock to get yourself out of bed, you’re granted a few moments of deeper presence and alone time upon waking.
Starting the day in this way is a small act that gives us a chance to break free of the constant stimulation that flows through our phones.
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2. Take mini solitude breaks throughout the day
Introverts can greatly benefit by consciously taking mindful step-backs. This break could (once again) be from technology, but it could also be from co-workers, family, and anyone else we are surrounded with.
Mini-breaks might mean closing a door for privacy, taking a walk, or finding a quiet place to meditate in. By taking this small time-out, we restore our energy levels and increase our capacity to engage with the world around us.
3. Know your energetic limits, reassessing frequently
Self-awareness is not something we come by once and are done with. Self-awareness is a continual practise of tuning in – moment to moment – to compassionately and curiously explore what is here.
In any moment, we can tune into what moves through us to get a sense of what our limits are for this minute, hour, or day. This provides us with the flexibility required to flow gracefully with life.
We can assess our energetic needs or limits in the following way:
- When an opportunity arises, for instance, to socially engage after work, we can take a moment to consider the request before responding. We can politely respond with something like, “Let me think about this for a moment. I’ll get back to you soon.”
- Then, taking one of our mini-breaks, we are invited to close our eyes and consider the first option: attending the social event. Without jumping to any conclusions just yet, consider:
- How does the idea of this event resonate with my body? What energies or feelings are stirred when I picture myself in attendance?
- Let the image of your attendance dissolve. In its place, picture and feel into what it would be like to decline the invitation:
- When I consider not attending, how does this feel in body, mind, and spirit?
- Be mindful of where ‘should’s and ‘shouldn’t’s appear. Are these honouring or denying your deeper needs for nourishment?
This quiet reflection can also be practised in the absence of a formal invitation or opportunity. Anytime we feel out of alignment and are unsure about how we can find balance again, we can sit quietly and reflect upon our options.
How would some light stretching feel? What about a walk through the park? Remaining curious and open here will support the inquiry.
4. Tune into the body through deep breathing and mindful movement
During your mini-breaks, when you’re commuting, or at any time you need to turn away from outside stimulation, mindful breathing techniques can help you to rediscover your quiet, peaceful centre. Belly breathing, in particular, helps to initiate the body’s relaxation response, softening any stress hormones that may be circulating through the blood. As we witness the flow of breath into and out of the body, the mind settles and the outside world becomes less important.
Mindful movement, such as yoga or Qigong, is another way of mindfully turning away from the world for a moment and tapping into our physical presence. These practices grant us the opportunity to rest and reset – and, they support our innate introspective nature.
5. Prioritize time spent in nature
The outside world may be stimulating at times, though this isn’t always the case. Natural environments have a deeply soothing impact on the body; and, for introverts, time in nature is a well-suited way of being both within the environment and away from the noise of it. It gives us a chance to unplug from the world while also stimulating creativity and any needed emotional or mental processing.
6. End each day device-free
Lastly, we can choose to end the day the same way we started it: free of the outside world. By tucking our personal devices away for the last hour before bed, we gain time to savour the simplicity of waking life. This deepens our sense of presence and helps us to reflect upon the day behind us.
We can’t underestimate the power of social media and news streams. Though we might be physically alone while scrolling – and though our physical environment may be quiet – the feeds themselves are highly stimulating.
Introverts (and extroverts, too) can regain a sense of peace and calm by turning away from this distraction and investing in some introvert self-care by opting for a book, soft conversation, or light activity before bed instead.
Above all, we can honour ourselves most authentically by being curious and compassionate towards our experience. Allowing our needs, limits, and inner whispers to flow naturally helps us to move in greater alignment with life.
Introverts and extroverts require much of the same fuel; introverts simply have a stronger pull towards the quiet world within, gaining strength from its subtle sustenance.
In any breath, we can tune into the inner world mindfully to discover what the best form of introvert self-care might be. As the whispers arise, we can practice honouring them – accepting ourselves unconditionally for the way we move, breathe, and restore.
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