About every ten days or so, I ponder why on earth I’m so incredibly busy. I’ll think I have a free week, but before I know it, every night except one has filled up, and my floors get crummy and my laundry piles up while time marches on and events happen in a flurry. Church! Birthday parties! Volunteering! Running! Babysitting! Burgers across the street!
And so I run and run until I find myself emotionally unstable in all my ways. “My head begins to rotate, in fact, I may even go bananas!” (Who can name that quote?) Then I know I’m peopled out and I simply must have some time to recharge. But just how is an introvert supposed to find time alone in a world so packed with wonderful people? Here are a few tips for carving out mental space without moving to Finland and taking up sheep herding:
1. Take walks. Every chance you get, go on a walk alone. Even five minutes before bedtime helps. Breathe in the scent of fresh air and let it clear your head.
2. Take long baths. Use some essential oils, take a tub of popcorn with you, and open that book you’ve been meaning to read. And don’t come out till you’re all pruney.
3. Speaking of reading, retreat into a book. When you’re reading something particularly good, the world around you fades away as your imagination takes over. Just the thing for when you need time alone. I’d like to recommend Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge for such a time as this. The writing style alone will carry you away if the story line doesn’t. For slightly shorter, lighter reading, try The Blue Castle which is only my favorite L.M. Montgomery book ever.
4. Put earbuds in, close the door, and have a little dance party. Nobody else can hear your music. It’s just you and your bad dance moves.
5. Make the most of your commute. A friend recently challenged me to take commuting time as an opportunity to talk aloud to God. Not pious prayers, but chatting, like you might with a friend. And you know what’s interesting? Spending time with him somehow isn’t draining, even for an introvert. 🙂
6. Do you have a lunch break at work? Skip going out to eat with your coworkers. Instead, take your lunch outside under a tree, and eat it alone. Clear your head. Focus on how good each bite tastes. Be intentional about appreciating little moments.
7. Learn how to say no. If you’re anything at all like me, this will involve major guilt at first, but I’m learning, and it really does improve life. Stretching yourself too thin doesn’t benefit anybody. If a simple “No, I can’t.” sounds too cold to you, try offering a solution. “No, I can’t help you move, but have you checked with Dave?”
8. Get enough sleep, but also take time to make your nighttime routine enjoyable and leisurely. Spend a couple minutes coloring, or slather yourself in good-smelling moisturizers, or have a nightly cuppa tea, or all of the above. Again, be deliberate about enjoying the moment. Read some Ogden Nash, and laugh aloud. Close your eyes a second and just enjoy the minty steam rising from your cup. Write down the best thing about your day. Gratefulness has a way of sorting out the tangles in your brain, and making your world spin just a little slower.
Now it’s your turn. Fellow introverts, what are your favorite ways to retreat when you simply must recharge? And if you want to read more about introverts, check out my roommate’s post here. Living in the same house means frequently one of us will post something, and the other one will say, “Hey! I was working on a draft about that!” 😀