According to Fast Company, being extroverted or introverted is determined by “where we get our energy from. Or in other words, how we recharge our brains.” It goes on to say that extroverts “find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone.”
I’ve had a lot of alone time to think and reflect on this and there’s a lot of truth in it. I, personally, thrive on sharing new experiences with people and being included by anyone and everyone. In spending long periods of time on my own, I am often overcome by feelings of futility. This is just how “extroverts” are though, right?
Well, I refuse to accept that. In fact, the idea of extraversion and introversion was created by Carl G. Jung to exist as extremes on a scale, meaning that everyone falls somewhere in between.
Being labeled an “extrovert” is not an excuse for sitting at home feeling lonely or down on yourself. It did not take long for me to take a step back and realize that feelings of emptiness were not mutually exclusive with a lack of spending time with people, but with a lack of understanding on how to spend quality time with myself. Everyone is capable of learning how to relax and recharge on their own time, it’s just a matter of being intentional about how you do it.
Therefore, I have created a simple Do’s and Don’ts list to help you take back your relationship with your number one: Y-O-U.
Don’t: Keep Watching
The first step towards learning how to love spending time with yourself is to address your current habits. For example, the next time Netflix asks if you’re still watching, take it as a sign from above that spending hours upon hours in front of your screen just might be slowly draining your soul.
I am the highest offender of this. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that, when given the chance, I would rather invest my time into the lives of made-up characters than my own life. Now I’m not saying TV can’t be a relaxing downtime activity, I’m just saying that moderation is key.
Don’t: Keep Scrolling
Believe it or not, the phrase “nothing is good in excess” applies to social media users, as well. It is so easy to obsessively scroll through other people’s online personas and the overload of online content, comparing your real life to everyone else’s fake one. It’s mindless and we find ourselves opening our phones in an idle moment or to distract us from our own life for just a moment. It can begin to create a void, or feeling of emptiness.
Medical Daily writes that “the overconsumption of social media creates addictive qualities and patterns of use that are just unhealthy. They promote poor mental health and poor self-image, anxiety, depression, narcissism, and even eating disorders.”
The simple truth here is that we cannot feel whole until we stop investing ourselves into something that doesn’t give back, and start investing in our own REAL lives. Challenge yourself by turning off your notifications or setting screen time limits. It’s not about stopping, it’s about a more balanced and healthy existence.
Don’t: Keep Snoozin’
I’d be lying if I didn’t say this wasn’t tough for me. Getting a healthy amount of sleep is important and, according to the National Sleep Foundation, a 40-minute nap is ideal to boost alertness and performance. However, like everything else, there is such thing as TOO much sleep. So, while taking a nap here and there can be restful, passing out for three hours and waking up confused about what day it is, is definitely not the best way to re-energize.
It is easy to confuse the tiredness of our body and mind with the exhaustion of our souls. If you find yourself feeling tired often, there are plenty other, more impactful ways to combat this that will ultimately have you feeling like your best self – (keep reading)!
Do: Allow Yourself to be Alone with Your Thoughts
I realize this is terrifying. Once you stop trying to fill every moment you have to yourself with Netflix, social media, sleep, etc., you might begin to learn new things about yourself. Now, by thoughts, I don’t mean the test you have coming up, the three meetings you need to remember, or the last few items on your grocery list. It can be tough to quiet your mind from the distractions and busyness of life and to indulge the person that you are when all of that is stripped away; However, it matters. In a world saturated with ideas and opinions, it is important to know your own voice and to let your thoughts stand out among the rest.
Do: Find Inner Peace
This looks differently for everyone. For me, my soul finds rest in spending time with The Lord. For you, it might be meditation. It is so life-giving to remind yourself that there is something bigger than you, whether that’s a God, the universe, etc. Take a minute to re-center yourself, focus your heart on all things good. Remind yourself that life can be beautiful if you stop to notice it. This can add so much purpose and value to your existence, that society so easily rids us of these days.
Do: Try Something New
Take advantage of a night in and go for that project or new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Breaking out of routines helps us find small adventures in our days and can be extremely therapeutic. Pick up a book, a camera, or a paintbrush; find a new recipe or stop in to that one coffee shop you always drive past. Checking something off your bucket list is so gratifying and who knows, once you start, you might not be able to stop.
(Check out BuzzFeed’s “17 Hobbies to try If You Suck At Hobbies” for inspiration)
Do: Get Out of Your House
If you’re feeling cooped up, get up and seek out some Vitamin D. Grab your fishing pole, go for a run or a walk (if you’re lucky you might even get to pet a dog). Exercise and sunshine can instantly put you in a better, more positive mood.
A Fox News Health story finds that “There is evidence from the University of Essex that working out in nature can improve your self-esteem…In addition, exposure to sunlight during the day can help you sleep better at night, improve immune function and increase endorphin production.” So there ya have it, the facts are the facts.
Don’t let the setting of the sun stop you, though. There’s nothing like a night drive with good music, driving until you reach the outskirts of the city glow. Look up at the stars, feel the breeze on your face and appreciate the stillness of nature – you might be amazed what you discover.
At the end of the day, there’s only really one important take away from this: don’t accept the lies of loneliness that tell you are unworthy or not of value.
Don’t feel bad for yourself, either. Instead, get to know yourself and only then can you better discern the desires of your heart. Set aside time to try and gain a new appreciation for simple things that bring you peace and joy. Self-care is so important.
Once we begin to find contentment with who we are in the quiet moments, we can then start living our best lives.