So, what happens when introverts don’t get alone time? Dr. Marti Olsen Laney explains in her book The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World, “for introverts, too much of a good thing really is too much. They feel overstimulated when dopamine floods their brains.”
When introverts are overstimulated and can’t get enough alone time, we can:
- Feel tired, mentally and physically,
- Find it hard to concentrate,
- Become irritable, and/or
- Have increased anxiety.
Hmm, do any of those symptoms sound familiar? If they do, then you need more alone time.
So, what does alone time look like? That’s a good question. Alone time doesn’t mean that you are sitting down and doing nothing. Alone time will look differently for each person because it depends on what you find interesting and relaxing. Alone time could be taking a walk in nature, reading a book, watching your favourite tv show or engaging in your favourite hobby. It allows you to unwind and relax. Most importantly, it should help calm down your mind.
Do you find it hard to have alone time? Here are some ways to ensure that you get enough alone time, so that you can be fully recharged.
Let People Know Why
Probably the first step to take is to let people know why you need alone time. Other people in your life may not understand why you need alone time, unless they are also an introvert. Worse, some people may take it personally. Let them know that it doesn’t mean you don’t want to spend time with the people that you love. Rather, that you need alone time to recharge in order to enjoy your time with other people. Finally, don’t apologize for your need for alone time. You have to take care of yourself first, in order to take care of others.
Set Out Regular Blocks of Time
Schedule alone time in your calendar. Pretend that it is an appointment that you can’t reschedule. Make it regular enough, even if it’s only 10 minutes a day, so that it becomes a habit that no one questions. Then communicate to your family that you have set aside this time. Make sure to emphasize that you will block time for others and for yourself. It’s important to enforce these blocks of time – they can only be interrupted for real emergencies that cannot wait. Then, once it comes to the block of time for others, be present.
Simplify Your Life
It’s hard to get alone time when you have too much going on. Life is busy, I get it. But you need to get alone time in order to recharge and thrive. One way to do that is to simplify your life. Sounds simple, but how exactly does a person go about simplifying their life? Well, here are a few tips on how to simplify your life.
- Less is more! Too much clutter around the house can disrupt your peace, without even realizing it. It can cause you to feel distracted, overwhelmed and anxious. For my husband, who is also an introvert, clutter around the house actually causes him confusion. A quick tidy up in the evening is usually enough.
- Don’t overschedule. Avoid becoming burnt out by limiting activities and commitments. Limit how much time you will spend on an activity, especially if you don’t want to miss out entirely. Use either a paper or an online calendar to write down all of your activities and commitments. A calendar is a great visual aid that lets you easily and quickly see when you are busy and when you will have some down time.
- Prioritize. Begin by understanding what is truly important to you. Start by identifying what I like to call the “should” areas. These are the areas where you think you “should” do this or that because other people expect it. Forget it – it’s your life. Eliminate what isn’t important to YOU.
Ask for help
This is a necessity when you have a lot going on, especially when you have children or you are a caregiver for elderly parents. It could mean asking your spouse to take over certain activities or at set times each week. Or perhaps hiring some help in order to free up some time. Brainstorm some ideas, even if they seem too crazy. Then evaluate which ideas will bring you the most relief. If you’re not sure which ones to implement, allow yourself a “trial” period. Try something out for one week, one month, or even two months and then evaluate. What was the result? Did you manage to get the alone time you needed? Did it leave you feeling refreshed? If not, try something else.
Be Alone Together
My husband is also an introvert. One thing that we both love to do is go for nature walks. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. It really depends on our energy levels. Either way, we’re spending time together and that’s what is most important. On the outings that we’re together but not talking, these outings do count as alone time. Yes, that’s right – even though we are together, we’re still getting alone time!
When in doubt, remember this quote by Jenn Granneman, “You’re not broken because you’re quiet. There’s nothing wrong with you because you like spending time alone.” Alone time is a vital part of an introvert’s life. Once you embrace it, you will thrive in life!
Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!