People are often surprised to find out that I consider myself to be an introvert. I guess that’s because I can do quite well in social situations. I can play the role given. I think we hold outdated views on what it means to be an introvert. We assume that introverts avoid social situations completely or can’t do well in them. That could be true for some, but others are finding their way as an introvert in a world fixated on extroverts.
Part of that means we need more time after social situations to recharge. We can act the part when we need to, but our battery runs out far quicker. It means that we gravitate towards calmer situations but can enjoy social time in small increments.
As an introvert, you need to find what works for you, how you can fill your battery when it’s empty. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different methods for recharging as an introvert, and these are the seven that work best for me:
Following a busy period of social interaction, my mind often feels exhausted. It takes me more effort than others to keep up a conversation and stay engaged, as I easily drift off or take a backseat in interactions.
So when social events are over, my mind feels depleted. Sometimes my body feels tired too, but other times there’s a weird juxtaposition as my body doesn’t match my tired mind. This creates an uncomfortable feeling, as my body is energised when the rest of me isn’t, and I can easily translate this experience into anxiety.
So when this happens, I aim to tire out my body to match. This helps my brain and body to be on the same page so I can just rest. I avoid going to a group class or gym, as this is just continued social interaction. Instead, I’ll do a solo activity, like going for a run or doing an exercise video. Alternatively, I’ll just go for a long walk, as this has the added bonus of getting me out the house one more time.
Exercising also acts as a distraction from any lingering social anxiety or doubts from my social time - “Does everyone hate me now? Did I embarrass myself?”. It gives me one thing to place all my focus on, and doesn’t involve any communication.
Once done, I feel like the complete package of tiredness, so I can just be a sloth on the sofa and recharge everything at once.
Even if I don’t need to get rid of residual energy, I might still benefit from switching off my mind and staying productive in some manner. For these moments, I focus on a crafty hobby. I have a lot of hobbies, including making candles, growing plants and knitting, but that doesn’t mean that I’m any good at them. You don’t have to be good at your hobbies. I’m not an artistic person, I can barely colour within the lines and I’m too impatient to do things well. But I love doing crafts as it really lets me switch off my mind and focus on my hands instead.
It gives you a place to direct any remaining energy or emotions, and allows your tired brain to rest. Crafting is an introvert’s best friend and a great way to recharge from social situations. It’s also ideal for people who struggle to sit still.
Here are some examples of mind off, hands on activities:
Remember that you don’t have to be good at it! What matters is enjoying yourself and finding it soothing rather than stressful.
I listen to music a lot of the time. Even now, as I write this, I have Taylor Swift blasting through my earphones. I find music to be very relaxing and so it can be tempting to listen to something when I’m trying to recharge after social depletion.
But sometimes the thing I need most is silence. It can feel really unnatural to actively seek silence, but it helps me so much. Listening to music can act as a bandaid over your social exhaustion, whilst silence gets to the root and actually fills you up correctly.
So if you’re going for a walk, avoid the urge to listen to music or a podcast, and instead enjoy the silence. Though if you live in a city like I do, you might not find much of it! But then allow yourself to focus on the sounds you do hear and stay anchored in the present.
I’ve found that silence can calm down your thinking and allow you to feel more recharged. Even if you’re just at home, avoid listening to music as you do something, as this further taxes your energy levels, and instead allow yourself to exist in the quiet.
I’m a big bookworm and so reading is part of my daily routine. I read every day before I go to sleep, and it’s honestly the best habit I’ve picked up. If I’m feeling socially depleted and enjoying a weekend at home, I’ll often read in the afternoon instead of going on social media or talking to people. It can feel like a rare treat, to be reading in the middle of the day rather than just before bed!
But when reading to recharge as an introvert, it’s vital that you consider what you read. When I’m feeling really drained, like I’m struggling with hangxiety or I’ve had a friend stay for a couple of days, I can’t read anything that requires mental input from me. I can’t put clues together or question my narrator. I need to be a passive reader. So I either return to a guilty pleasure, as I then know everything to come, or I read something gentle and easy.
If you’re just a bit tired from a social gathering, then you might prefer to read something new and enticing, that can capture you entirely in the story so you don’t think about anything else.
Whatever you choose to read, make sure to set up the perfect reading nook. Have a warm drink, light a few candles and snuggle under a blanket. Give yourself the full experience.
I find it pretty difficult to make decisions on any given day. I have genuinely cried when I’m forced to choose where we’ll eat. Sometimes, it is just so hard to choose, as then all the consequences are on you. What if the food isn’t good? What if you regret what you order? I also feel burdened by the responsibility of the other person, as I don’t want to let them down and I’ll worry that they’re mad at me.
So I’m a wimp when it comes to decisions, and this only worsens when I’m socially drained. That’s why I do myself a kindness when it comes to these moments, and I remove any decisions. I don’t let myself doubt what I’ll eat, I just go the easiest option. I don’t agree to any plans, I tell the person I’ll get back to them tomorrow. I don’t do anything that requires a choice. I know my emotional bandwidth is already stretched in these moments, so I remove the entire existence of decisions. In this world, decisions don’t exist, I just go with an option or leave choices for a stronger day.
Being socially drained as an introvert, it can be tempting to just scroll through social media endlessly. You lack the energy to do anything else, and so you spend an hour on Tiktok, Instagram or whatever your drug of choice is. But this leaves you feeling just as drained, if not more. As you’re still engaging in a social activity, you’re being influenced by others and interacting, however limited.
So when I need to recharge as an introvert, I ditch my phone. I put it in another room, sound-off, and go completely old school. I’ll read, craft or go for a walk, and not touch my phone. Keeping your phone near you makes you just as tempted to use it. So remove it entirely from your view, and set yourself a time period without it, or just see how you go.
This allows you to be fully antisocial and actually rest up your social juices. The same goes for your laptop if you can avoid it! If I’m writing during this time, I’ll turn off my internet and write into an app or notes pad instead, just to be entirely focused on the present task.
When I emerge from heavily social situations, I often feel a little disorientated, like I’ve been out of the loop. So part of my recharging involves getting my feet back on the ground. I get really easily overwhelmed, and it can be such a trigger for my anxiety, so I like to have everything laid out neatly.
Once I’ve rested or done my quiet time, part of recharging as an introvert is organising my life. I live for lists, the more colours the better, and so I’ll often get settled by making lists. I plan the week to come, not just appointments but also things I need to do, goals I want to reach, when I’ll take the time to write. I plan my grocery list so I don’t feel overwhelmed in the store. I plan what I need to clean or do in my home. I just plan everything so I can see it on paper before me. This lets me feel like I’m controlling my life rather than being controlled by it. And it’s a great quiet time activity.
Many of these activities could seem conflicting, like getting organised and yet avoiding decisions, or working out but having silent time. That’s because there is so much variation in social exhaustion. It can be dependent on how social you were, the length of time, or just that day. Sometimes you need different things, so the main way to recharge as an introvert is to listen to what you need. We often know what we need, but choose not to follow our gut, as we’re affected by so many factors. We want to order food but feel we shouldn’t spend more money; we want to avoid communication entirely but feel guilty that we didn’t call someone. But recharging is about putting yourself first. It’s about admitting what you need and then doing it.
You’re not selfish for needing to recharge. You’re not weak for needing to recharge. You’re introverted and there is nothing wrong with that. If your phone’s out of battery, you’ll plug it in. So plug in to your introverted ways and revel in them, because being an introvert also makes you great in many ways.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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