How to recharge as an introvert?

Why do introverts even need to recharge their energy?

To start with: there are a load of misconceptions around the word “introvert’.

Let’s begin by defining what it is:

Introversion is based on energy. An introvert is someone whose energy becomes drained by loud environments and spending time with other people—even if they’ve had a fun time.

That’s it. As introvert is not:

  • Someone who hates others and doesn’t want to spend time around them
  • Someone who is awkward in social situations (although a lot of introverts feel awkward, check out XXX)
  • Someone who is shy, anti-social, or anti-people
  • Someone who just wants to be alone all the time

Introverts lose energy in social situations quicker than extroverts. We tend to recharge our energy by spending time alone or with closed loved ones who we are incredibly comfortable with.

Why do introverts lose energy?

High stimulating environments (such as noise, crowds, lots of energy) can cause an “introvert hangover“. Introvert brains are more sensitive to dopamine compared to extroverts’ brains, so our energy gets used up quickly when socialising. 

Being around a lot of people can start to drain our energy.
Being around a lot of people can start to drain our energy.

Extroverts might walk into a crowded party and dive into action, seeing opportunities everywhere as they experience a positive rush. Introverts may walk into the same party and experience a sense of overwhelm and anxiety.

An “introvert hangover” is withdrawing into yourself because of the overstimulation. When we push past our energy reserves, we go from feeling “okay” to “overwhelm”. If you pack too much into your social calendar, you’re likely to experience a hangover due to not having enough time to recharge alone. 

An “introvert hangover” can start during a social event and last up to a few days afterwards, especially if it’s been an intense period of socializing. 

Signs of an introvert hangover

You become physically and mentally drained.

“Exhausted” and “shattered” are words that introverts often use when we’re experiencing an introvert hangover. All of your energy has been used up responding to noise and other forms of stimulation. You may find it hard to string words together and start to speak slower, using simple words. 

If you know you have social events coming up, schedule some time after to recover. Some introverts need a few hours, others need days. Generally the bigger the event, the longer the recovery time needed.

You start zoning out.

You may find yourself not being able to stay focused on a conversation. Someone is talking but you’re not really hearing what they are saying. You might suddenly become incredibly quiet and have a blank look on your face as you start to lose yourself in your thoughts to escape the noise. 

This is common during a social event. Take some time out to find a place that is calm and quiet. Anywhere you can be alone to just breathe — even if you have to go hide in the bathroom. Practise some mindful breathing by taking slow and deep breaths in and out, counting each breath. 

This cat knows what it's like to have an introvert hangover.
This cat knows what it’s like to have an introvert hangover.

Everything irritates you.

You have no patience left and are at the end of your tether. Minor annoyances can suddenly become major irritations. You simply have no energy for anything. It’s not unusual for fights with supportive friends or a loving partner to happen at this point because one of you is socially exhausted and has nothing left to give.

Spend time alone doing activities that recharge your energy. A walk in nature, getting lost in a book, painting the trees outside your window. You just need to time to breathe and simply be. Additionally, getting some extra sleep may be the best thing for you to recover fully. 

Recharging your energy

Knowing how to recharge your energy is a secret introvert superpower.

Once you know this, you can maintain your energy all day long.

I get a lot of introverts messaging to ask how they can become more extroverted. (I spoke about that in another post here). The common thread in this question was wanting to be more outgoing and social. Knowing how to recharge your energy on the go can help with this.

But how can you recharge as an introvert?

If you’re at an event and can suddenly feel yourself drained of energy, excusing yourself for 5 minutes to take some time alone before coming back refreshed and rejuvenated means you can continually appear outgoing for the duration of the time you’re there. It’s an introvert hack to get through those long networking meetings!

Recharging your energy looks very different for each person. Take the time to explore what fills your cup and sings to your soul.

Here are some suggestions to help:

1. The wall of noise

Imagine the scene: you’re in the middle of a room full of people. You’re in a group conversation and don’t particularly want to leave. However you can feel your energy levels drop immensely.

The aim here is to find stillness amidst the chaos.

Find stillness amidst the chaos.

Take a deep breath and feel your whole body relax on the exhale. Drop your shoulders. Loosen your belly. Let your tongue relax to the bottom of your mouth.

Breathe.

As you breathe: 

  • Start to become aware of the noise surrounding you.
  • Try to listen to all the sounds at once. Imagine it as a wall of noise. Let all the sound blur together.
  • If thoughts come into your mind, let them go and return to the noise. Continue to breathe and relax on the exhale.
  • Notice there is a separation between you and the noise. The noise is a tornado and you are in the eye of it: it’s calm.

Breathe, and feel the breath go all the way through your body.

You’re training your mind to block out the external and focus on what you can control: you, your mind, and your thoughts.

2. Schedule time in before going to bed specifically for recharging

I’m a huge proponent of having a set time to go to bed and wake up, every day (including the weekends). Establishing a pillar of routine and consistency helps us feel in control of our lives. Especially on the days when the world feels too much.

Start by investigating if you’re more of a night owl or early bird:

  • When do you feel more energised?
  • When are you most productive?
  • Do you wake up early, ready to jump out of bed and start the day straight away?
  • Or do you prefer to work with the moon shining outside your window?
  • When are you most creative?

Although we can influence whether we’re a night or morning person to an extent, sometimes we need to listen to our body’s natural clock.

Either way, make sure you get enough sleep (another effective way to recharge as an introvert).

If you’re constantly feeling tired, try experimenting with going to bed 20-30 minutes earlier, or waking up 20-30 minutes later. You’ll start to feel which side of midnight you prefer.

Once you’ve discovered the rough time that you need to begin the process of going to sleep (note: this is not the time you get into bed and spend 30 minutes on your phone), add in an extra 15 minutes beforehand to start recharging. Here are some ideas:

  • Write out everything in your head onto paper or a Word Doc
  • Meditate
  • Sit in silence and allow thoughts to come up. If it feels right, write them down
  • Go through a yoga flow
  • Read fiction
  • Do some sketches
Journaling can help you start to wind down and recharge your energy.
Journaling can help you start to wind down.

After trying a few activities out, you’ll know which ones allow you to wind down.

To breathe and release all the information your brain has soaked up during the day.

Meaning tomorrow you’ll be energised again.

It’s a lovely way for an introvert to recharge.

3. Spending time in nature

Research has found that looking at and being in green space can help you recover from stress.

The outdoors offers us a space that doesn’t have too much stimuli around it (if you avoid your local park).

There’s a beautiful Japanese term called “forest bathing”. It is:

“The simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply can help both adults and children de-stress and boost health and wellbeing in a natural way.”

Forest bathing can help introverts recharge our energy
Forest bathing can help introverts recharge our energy

Make the most out of forest bathing by slowing down. Literally. Take your time wandering through trees. Take deep long breaths. Stop. Observe what is around you.

Allow your mind the chance to slow down.

Taking a walk outside alone helps us process our thoughts. It’s a way to recharge as an introvert.

There’s a reason why our minds become full and we can’t think anymore. Or we start to overthink:

The frontal cortex and Broca’s area.

Two areas of the brain that explain why introverts overthink so much. Neuroimaging studies found these areas are very active in introverts.

They are parts of the brain associated with:

  • Planning
  • Self-talk
  • Remembering
  • Decision-making 
  • Problem-solving 

This is why introverts need solitude to think. Our brain is already working overtime.

It’s also the reason behind classic introvert strengths: 

  • Creative problem-solving
  • Observation 
  • Deep focus

Being alone allows us to listen to ourselves. 

4. Building in habits

Do you remember brushing your teeth this morning?

It’s likely you didn’t. If not, and I’m sure you did brush them, it’s because it is a habit. According to habit master, James Clear, habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day. According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day.”

So it’s safe to say that habits are a huge part of our life.

Building restorative habits that help keep your energy levels high effortlessly, because they’re part of your routine, is hugely helpful.

Having these habits happen throughout your week helps you proactively stay energised, without realising it. It’s the worst feeling getting to the end of the working week feeling exhausted, then trying to recharge all weekend.

As an introvert, you’ll start to recharge effortlessly.

Chris Greene, founder of Hack That Habit, recommends starting small and planning your rate of improvement. Let’s say that you find meditating relaxing and want to include more of it in your day. Chris tried this out: “I started with 5 minutes per day and then set specific goal posts that would tell me if I was trying to do too much, the right amount, or if I could do more.”

The idea is to waterfall each time you do the task onto the next one.

You’ll also be taking advantage of the Winner Effect here. This is the jolt of testosterone your body gets when you experience a win. It boosts your confidence and helps you feel like you can achieve anything. 

It could look something like this:

  • If I do 1-3 days of meditation, then I will do 1 minute less the next week.
  • If I do 4-5 days of meditation, then I will do the same amount of time the next week.
  • If I do 6-7 days of meditation, then I will do 1 minute more the next week.

How can I recharge as an introvert?

The methods mentioned so far are the tip of the iceberg. Try out various different strategies and see which are more effective.

You may find that different stages of life or times of the day impact it too. For example, those of us with easy access to green space may make more use of that compared to people who live in the centre of the city.

Finding out what works for you can be life-changing. Especially for your confidence (I’ve written more on specific techniques to feel confident as an introvert).

Take the time to prioritise this and watch your energy levels dramatically shift throughout the day.

Summary

So, how can you recharge as an introvert? And why?

  • There are different ways that introverts can recharge their energy. We often become drained, and may experience an “introvert hangover” from being exposed to too much stimuli.
  • An “introvert hangover” is when you withdraw because of the overstimulation. All you can think about is needing time to recharge.
  • If you’re out socialising, thinking of the noise as a hurricane with you in the eye of it, observing what is going on while remaining still and quiet, helps you breathe deeply. You can give yourself mini boosts of energy through this.
  • Schedule time in before going to bed to decompress, reflect, and release the tension from the day.
  • If you can, spend time in nature. If you have no access to green space, fill your home environment with plants and flowers.
  • Build recharging habits into your life to help it feel effortless.

Next steps

Did you know there were 4 different shades of introversion?

Recent research has found out that instead of one “type” (which is already too simplified), there are different shades: Social, Thinking, Anxious, Restrained.

I’m a Thinking Introvert. Which one are you?

Take this quiz to find out more:

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