My husband is not an introvert. He gets his energy from being around people and being active. My daughter Grace, in the photo above circa 2008, is definitely an introvert and showed it from an early age. Her sister is very similar and I will go (I started to say slowly, but there’s nothing slow about it) crazy if I’m around too many people for too long.
Through the years, we’ve managed to find a comfortable middle ground in our family. Grace, Tara and I work very hard to not be passive aggressive and to just say what we need, especially when we need alone time. Benton works on not taking it personally when we say we don’t want to do anything but he should go on out and have fun without us.
It’s a bit easier with the kids grown and gone and we’ve also learned to compromise. Sometimes he just knows to let me be and sometimes I just know I need to suck it up, go outside and play nicely.
But when I do have time to myself, I am very conscious of making the most of it. We don’t always know when the next opportunity will come along – especially with children or others to care for. So watch for those moments and then take full advantage.
Begin with a plan. Take an inventory of how you are feeling and think about what you need and/or want to do for yourself. I know that’s hard, especially for those who are always giving. Turn the tables and make the effort to give yourself what you need.
Here are a few ideas that others have shared with me. I’ve done all of them!
I know that sounds so boring and so weird. But when your mind races all the time and you can’t stop the input, sometimes it takes a full stop to reset and recharge. I will put the dogs outside, turn off all the noises in the house, the TV, Bob the Robot Vacuum, various fans and air purifiers. And I simply sit and look out the window. Or even just stare into the abyss for a while. It doesn’t take long but a few minutes of simple quiet can do a lot for the soul and the mind.
If you can’t find the time in your house, maybe a few minutes in the car. Keep it quiet on the drive home and even sit in the parking lot for a few minutes once you arrive.
In a pinch, there is always the bathroom. Most adults will leave you alone when you’re in the bathroom, even if kids won’t. Depending on who you are around, it’s worth a shot. And really, if an adult is banging on the door while you are in the bathroom, I think there may be some other issues at play.
Something about the flow of the ink from a good pen across quality paper just calms me immediately. It’s less about the words being written and more about the making of the words, the crafting of them and the flow of the ink. It’s almost meditative and I imagine it is similar to what a painter would experience putting the paint on canvas. Or a sketch artist with their pencils and a blank surface. Or a musician while playing an instrument. Or a cook when preparing vegetables for a meal. Or a baker kneading dough. You get me?
I’ve become obsessed with these pens. The different colors make me happy and the ink flows very smoothly. It really is very calming. Crummy pens just make me sad.
Artists do what they do because of an inner drive to create but they also do what they do as a survival instinct.
Have you ever met a blocked artist? Or someone who needs to create but doesn’t? They are very grumpy. Allow the creativity to come through and don’t get all caught up in the making of perfect art. Make it truly about the process, not the outcome.
A Nap Never Hurts
Enough said. Really, a comfy couch, a fluffy blanket, a good pillow, and a snuggly dog, cat, goat…whatever you have will do. Don’t worry about the time of day. Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll sleep that night. If you’re exhausted, physically, emotionally, mentally…take a nap! You obviously need it.
Take A Walk
Again, it’s more about the process than the outcome. I’m talking about a walk that is relaxing, not exercise. Exercise is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s an additional stress. Benton unwinds by exercising – it works for him. But it is most decidedly NOT how I relax. I hate sweating, I hate being hot, things start to hurt in weird places and I’m generally unhappy.
But a calm walk in nature definitely helps with perspective and grounding. And it doesn’t even have to be walking. Tai Chi, yoga, casual bike rides, swimming – all these things are good for you, whether or not you’re breaking a sweat and torching calories. Enjoying these activities without watching the pedometer, heart rate monitor or the calorie counter, enables you to really enjoy the process of movement and focus on your body and how it feels. It’s a great way to counteract the emotional stress of the day.
Read a Book
Let someone else do the work. Get lost in the words of a great author and a great book. Don’t read for the lesson or the new strategy or to explore how he or she creates suspense or manages dialogue. Don’t read something just because you think you have to. That’s like homework and we are grown ups. We can read just for fun, for the story, and for the entertainment.
Allow yourself to get lost in the words that someone else labored over, just for you, at this exact moment. Appreciate what they did and give their words the attention they deserve. Accept the gift and revel in it. Maybe when you do, you will be recharged enough to turn around and do a good turn for someone else in your own writing or whatever you do that fulfills you and helps others.
What are your favorite ways to practice self-care? How do you truly unwind, reset and recharge?
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