I’m an introvert. What that means, generally, is that interactions with others take energy. Being in large groups of people takes energy. Extroverts are energized by interacting with others, while introverts are depleted by those interactions and need to recharge by spending time alone or being quiet.
Some introverts, like me, are also sensitive to physical touch, needing larger personal bubbles to feel comfortable. In addition, the more tired I am generally, the less energy I have for everything, including interacting with others.
I also live with other people, including a 2-year-old with advanced verbal skills who lately has been waking up once a twice a night to check in and make sure I’m still there.
What that means is that much of my being-with-people energy is used up before I even walk out the front door.
As the mother of a toddler, I can’t just say, “Hey, I need a bit of quiet,” and actually get it. I can’t depend on a full night’s sleep, or her being willing to give me physical space. In fact, the more I pull away, the more needy she becomes.
What is most important for me might be different than it is for you. I want to have energy to play and read and tussle with my kid. I want to have focus to write during the period I have childcare, and I want to have enough energy at the end of the day to have a conversation with my love without having my eyes glaze over.
I also want to be able to see friends, go to play dates, and go to concerts and parties. But if I haven’t managed my energy well, I can’t do those things without sacrificing my top priorities.
Here are some ways you can conserve your introverted energy so you can do more:
Communicate more by text and email.
Phone calls can be hard for introverts. We want to stay in touch but long conversations are draining. It is hard to find time in my day when I can both focus and have the energy for a conversation. Text messages and emails give me the freedom to respond when I’m ready or take a while to gather my thoughts when I need to. If you find that you are on the phone a lot and exhausted, try communicating more using other methods. If that’s not feasible, try turning off your phone during certain periods, just to give yourself a break.
Balance small events with large ones.
Simply being in a crowd can be taxing for an introvert. Concerts, sports events, and festivals take a while to recover from. When planning what things my family will attend and participate in, I try to balance those bigger events with smaller ones. I can’t do two big events in the same weekend, but I can probably swing a dinner out one evening and a family festival on the other day. Especially if I know I get to have a slow morning in between! Take a look at your calendar and thin out the most taxing events so you have some space to recover and recharge.
Save up my people energy.
If there’s something I really want to do but I know it will drain me, I make sure to plan downtime before it, so I will have as much energy as possible. This is especially important around the holidays. I always try to have no commitment and to schedule pockets of solitary time in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, because I know those events will leave me tapped out.
Communicate your needs.
If you are feeling exhausted and know you need some down time, don’t be afraid to say so. You can, but don’t have to, explain why you need it. Maybe you want to go for a walk, or otherwise step away for a few minutes. I had a friend who always volunteered to do the dishes at dinner parties, because it was quiet in the kitchen while others stayed at the table finishing their wine. Maybe you need to cancel plans or come up with an alternate that feels more comfortable. Other people may not understand your sensitivities or exactly what you need. You have to be responsible for taking the best care of yourself!
Your turn: What other methods do you use to conserve energy for what you want to do most, whether you are introverted or not? Share your suggestions in the comments below.
This post is part of the 31-day Soul-Fed Mama series. Find the rest of this series here.
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