Last week, we talked about stress relief for depression and anxiety sufferers. This week, I’d like to talk about another special case: The Introvert. <Insert very soft, unobtrusive musical intro here>
What’s an Introvert?
There’s often a bit of confusion about what an introvert actually is.
An introvert is not necessarily shy, although shy people are often introverted.
An introvert is not necessarily awkward, but many awkward people are introverts — and being an introvert around a large group of extroverts can make you feel awkward.
Here, then, is my quasi-scientific description of an introvert. We:
- Prefer our own inner world of thoughts and reflection over the (in our opinion) too-noisy external world of over-socialization.
- We are like batteries: We give our energy to others when we socialize, and have to take time alone to recharge.
- We thrive on quiet, on peace, and on solitude.
- We don’t hate people, and we aren’t totally averse to social interaction. We just get overwhelmed by too much socialization, especially if there’s no quiet place for us to retreat and rebuild our energy.
Common Introvert Stressors
Looking at that list, it’s easy to deduce a lot of the things that really stress out an introvert. If we’re prevented from taking time alone, or if we have our privacy disrupted, we become stressed and upset. We introverts aren’t big on small talk (see what I did there? Yeah, it wasn’t that funny. Sorry), and we become exhausted by long conversations that don’t go anywhere.
We are introspective and like to take our time to formulate opinions or responses. If we feel rushed to reply to a statement or give an opinion on a topic, we quickly see our stress meters crank up.
Introverts tend to fear public failure. If we slip up, whether it’s a verbal stumble or a mistake that everyone sees, we feel deep humiliation, and take time to get over it.
We are the classic illustration of the old “Damn! Why didn’t I think of that comeback during the argument” problem. We often don’t like verbal arguments for this reason — we don’t get enough time to build thoughtful replies, and may feel outmanned.
Embracing Introvert-Friendly Stress Relief
Last week, when I was talking about ways for depression sufferers to relieve stress, I mentioned that getting out of the house was far healthier than holing up inside. And that’s true for many people — but not necessarily for an introvert.
I’m not saying you should hide away and refuse to see anyone, but for an introvert, sometimes the best stress relief is just some alone time. In fact, some experts say that an introvert is at optimal mental health when he or she spends at least half of his or her time alone.
In practice, this may mean taking a long road trip or a long walk in nature to get away with your own thoughts. And if you live with others — particularly if you live with one or more extroverts — a room of your own, with a door that closes, is essential.
You can also take a break from verbal communication for a day or two. Ignore the phone; let voicemail pick it up and return only important calls. Communicate via email, text, or written notes during that time.
Listening to music — or, if that’s too much stimulation, just putting on a set of noise-cancelling headphones with no sound — can also help drown out the outside world and give you time to relax and boost your energy.
It’s important for both an introvert and the people in his or her life to understand an introvert’s natural reaction to stress. Remember: For an introvert, retreating into him- or herself is not unhealthy, and not a sign of neurosis. It’s a perfectly normal way of coping with stress.
Are you an introvert? What are your favorite methods of stress relief? Share them with us in the comments! And don’t forget to sign up for new posts — the form’s in the sidebar.