As an introvert, you’re more likely to enjoy a small get-together than a roaring party. You prefer stillness and solitude. Social interactions tend to take a lot out of you, leaving you exhausted and drained.
As Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, author of the book Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference, told me in this piece, “The introvert gets their energy from within, while the extrovert is charged up by people, places and stimuli outside of them.” Introverts also “let their fingers do the talking, opt for email over telephone and like to express ideas in writing, because it gives them a chance to self-reflect.”
So depending on where you work and what your responsibilities are, you might be spending a lot of time in noisy, crowded surroundings and highly social situations.
It’s important for introverts to nurture and care for our energy, according to psychologist, professor and fellow introvert Arnie Kozak, Ph.D, in his book The Awakened Introvert: Practical Mindfulness Skills to Help You Maximize Your Strengths & Thrive in a Loud & Crazy World.
How do you do that?
Kozak says through RPM. His version stands for respect, protect and modulate your energy. He writes: “You respect your energy through monitoring and balancing what builds your energy and what depletes it. You protect your energy by making choices that reflect your values and maintain your self-care. You mindfully modulate your energy to restore it as you navigate through the stresses and activities of each day.”
Here are five tips from The Awakened Introvert to help you do just that.
1. Chart your energy.
According to Kozak, when your energy is low, activities you find to be difficult as an introvert will only be more difficult. It can help to chart your energy to see when it dips and when it peaks. This way you can schedule activities that require your greatest attention when you have the most energy (when possible). When your energy naturally dips, you can perform activities that don’t require as much brainpower.
Create two charts — a chart for a typical workday and a non-workday, from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep. After you’re done, ask yourself: When do I have the most energy? When is my energy at its lowest? Is it consistent from day to day? Are there differences between the days I work and the days I don’t?
2. Consider how substances and activities affect you.
Kozak suggests creating two tables: One table includes substances, such as alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, chocolate and food additives. The other includes activities, such as exercising, forgetting to eat, meditating, reading and watching television. Add any other substances or activities to these lists that are important to your life.
Then consider whether each one builds your energy, drains your energy or is neutral. Also, note the quality of energy each substance or activity provides. For instance, caffeine may give you energy, but it also makes you nervous and might disrupt your sleep. It provides poor-quality energy. Meditation, however, might give you good-quality energy.
3. Explore your energy expenditures.
Focus your attention on how social situations affect you. Kozak suggests estimating from 0 to 100 how many units you expend on each activity. For instance, if a work presentation really wipes you out, you might’ve spent 30 to 50 units.
Then consider how long it takes you to get back to your energy baseline. Kozak defines your baseline as “your typical level of energy where you are neither drained nor have an abundance of energy.”
Do this for such social situations as attending a large party, being in a chaotic environment, doing non-stop activities with your kids, seeing your family, meeting new people, traveling and talking to coworkers.
4. Create a repertoire of restorative activities.
According to Kozak, “as an introvert living in an extrovert world, your energy is likely to be overtaxed much of the time. To maximize your energy, you’ll need a repertoire of introvert restoration techniques that will help you to modulate your energy — that is, making fine- and large-stroke adjustments to your behavior to keep your energy in a good range.”
Kozak includes these examples of restoration techniques: scheduling a day of silence; reading a book; watching a movie; walking, running, hiking or biking; attending a play; meditating; practicing yoga; sitting in a coffee shop; taking a drive in the country; visiting a museum.
You can employ these techniques after performing a particularly exhausting activity, such as giving a presentation or being in a noisy environment.
5. Consider your social energy.
It’s also helpful to examine how others affect your energy. Start by listing the people in your life. Then consider whether each person builds or drains your energy. As Kozak writes, “Does he make you want to crawl into a cave, or does he help you feel more connected to the world?” Also, note whether your contact with this person is mandatory (like your boss) or voluntary (like a friend).
If a person builds your energy, spend more time with them. If they don’t, try to limit your contact (if possible).
You also can use your restoration techniques before and after meeting with draining people. For instance, you might meditate to prepare for a tiring interaction. Afterward, you might take a walk or listen to soothing music.
Kozak also stresses the importance of getting enough sleep and suggests practicing a body scan (try this one or these). That’s because “the body can be a powerful resource for restoration,” he writes.
As an introvert, you might get exhausted being in loud, overly stimulating environments where you have to socialize a lot. The key is to pay attention to your energy, make choices that respect your preferences (whenever possible) and replenish your energy.
Young woman writing photo available from Shutterstock