Until recently, the idea that a person could be introverted or extroverted wasn’t a particularly well-known one. Nowadays, it’s very common to hear people identifying as one or the other in a bid to better describe their dependency on alone time or social interaction. According to the first official statistics that were taken in 1998 by the Myers-Briggs organisation, 50.7% of the United States population were introverts whilst 49.3%, making it a fairly even spread. But what does it mean to be one or the other in terms of your self care? Whilst the generally held conception is that introverts can best look after themselves by getting a lot of ‘alone time’ and extroverts will need plenty of social fixtures in the diary to feel at their best, this might not actually accurately describe the true care rituals needed by each type of person.
Here we’re taking a look at the true meaning of being an introvert or extrovert and the self care rituals you should put into practice as a result.
What’s an introvert?
There’s a common misconception that introverts don’t enjoy spending time out with other people. The truth is, many introverts actually do enjoy social gatherings as much as extroverts do – they just need more regular time alone to recharge their energy. Introverts can also often be described as careful decision makers, good listeners with a healthy dose of self-awareness and introspection. They’re also know to learn well through observation and to be seen as more ‘outgoing’ around people they already know.
What’s an extrovert?
An extrovert isn’t exactly the opposite of an introvert, but they do tend to find it more energy-boosting to spend time with friends and family rather than spending time alone. They tend to be quite outgoing and as comfortable in a group of strangers as they are with friends. They’re more accustomed to making decisions off-the-cuff and are generally proactive and expressive – something which makes them great communicators but also somewhat distracted by nature.
Self care for introverts
For introverts, self care is all about reconnecting with self in a calm, quiet way that doesn’t require interaction with others. The following practices may help:
Epsom salt bath
After particularly exhausting interactions, nothing with ground you more quickly than taking a warm bath with Epsom salts. Adept at relaxing muscles, relieving pain and tension, the salts will work to soothe the nerves whilst the warm water, stillness and peace will help restore your depleted energy.
Walking in nature
If you don’t like baths or can’t easily take one as often as you’d like, a walk in the fresh air can be restorative. The focus here should be on the activity rather than the outcome, so focus on strolling in a way you find relaxing rather than pounding the pavement in a bid to boost your endorphins. Walking in nature helps to ground you, as well as provide ample thinking and breathing space to process the events of the day.
Slower yoga practices
As most people know, yoga can be a highly beneficial practice, not only for strength and flexibility but for the mind too. With a focus on breath and balance, it can help give the mind a rest from the thoughts that are often racing through it for an introvert right after a particularly draining interaction. Though there are plenty of yoga styles in which to work up a sweat, it’s an idea to adopt slower practices as a form of self care. Hatha yoga offers a slower variation of the traditional vinyasa flow, allowing you to gently work through the poses. Yin yoga is another gentle choice, concentrating on seated postures with long intervals that target the hips, pelvis and lower back.
Sometimes nothing but a good puzzle will help you relax. Choosing activities that are stimulating enough to occupy you but easy enough to do without expending loads of mental energy can often be a great option for restoring energy. Knitting, painting, sudoku and model building are all a great choice here, helping you to engage in the kind of gentle mental activity your brain often craves.
When we become absorbed by a book, we allow ourselves to retreat into the inner world of our imagination, which makes reading an obvious choice of self-care activity for an introvert. This is a particularly great option for the times when you still have to be around other people but crave the feeling of being alone.
Self care for extroverts
Being energetic and somewhat gregarious, extroverts aren’t usually the type to reach for the bubble bath or a book in a bid to wind down. The trick to self-care for extroverts is to find activities that still stimulate but that calm often frayed nerves.
Try group meditation
If the idea of sitting alone for half an hour with your own thoughts makes you want a run a mile, find a group of friends that would be interested in incorporating a regular meditation practice into their own routines and do it together. Set up a space with soft lighting and music, get some incense burning and set a regular date in the diary. Meditation will give you the opportunity to slow down your thoughts, whilst the support of friends will help to bolster your mood.
Go for coffee with friends
Though you’re naturally a social butterfly, many interactions can be overstimulating and tiring. A relaxing couple of hours spent chatting with friends is a great way to satisfy your inner social being without draining your energy. The experience of talking through your life will allow you a sense of objectivity and perspective that you might not otherwise have the opportunity to find.
Go to the cinema
Need to feel like your mind is occupied but for once craving something more low-key than a get-together? Head to the cinema. A couple of hours in a dark room spent watching something stimulating whilst being surrounded by people that you don’t actually have to talk to might be just what the doctor ordered.
With or without others, cooking offers a fun but soothing way to regenerate energy for the introvert. Trying out new dishes and following recipes can provide the mental stimulation you crave without leaving you feeling depleted afterwards.
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