Maintaining energy levels is essential for all of us, but one of the main differences between introverts and extroverts is where we get our energy from. Introverts get energy from within, needing moments of calm and time alone to recharge. Whereas introverts get their energy from others. An introvert’s need for time alone doesn’t just mean working from home. That won’t cut it. It’s having quiet time when you’re not trying to do anything else that will recharge your introvert batteries.
It can often be hard to keep an even energy supply, as blocking out restorative niches of time constantly fights with all your other commitments. This can mean that you can literally run out of energy at key moments. However, failing to carve out quiet times to be able to recharge, can lead to an inability to make decisions, irritability, exhaustion and even burnout. Doesn’t sound great, right?
Here are my top tips for managing your energy levels:
Recognise your capacity
Firstly, accept that you are not super-human and that you do have a finite supply of energy. With the right management it will allow you to do everything that you want to, but you need to be proactive in your energy management rather than keep pushing yourself until you can’t take any more.
Look back at times that you felt particularly energised or drained and see if there is a pattern that you can use to help support you in the future.
Make a list of what drains and what restores you
You might be surprised by what you find. For example, it is often (wrongly) assumed that introverts don’t like being with people. I love being with people and would refer to myself as a sociable introvert. This means that while I definitely need time to recharge alone, there are times that I can feel reenergised having been with certain groups of people – but they have to be the right people. The wrong people will drain my batteries very quickly. Even in situations with people who energise me, I will still need to make time to recharge with a bit of peace.
Having a list in place of what adds to and depletes your energy will give you a clearer idea of where you need to focus on balancing your energy levels.
Think about what you have coming up over the next few weeks and take note of any red flags energy-wise. Just because more occasions are virtual at the moment, does not mean that they are any less draining than being in the same room with people. Recognise if you need the opportunity to for some quiet time before and/ or after these events or meetings.
I would recommend making a plan at the beginning of each week that includes time to restore and recharge. I know that if I have a presentation, I need to factor in some downtime as soon as practically possible. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a huge amount of time. Often 20 minutes with a cup of tea or reading my book will suffice. This break will give me the energy I need to get on with the rest of my day.
While it can be relatively easy to make a plan, often actually sticking to it is the hard bit. This is perfectly normal. Remember that changing habits is not easy. It can take between 18 and 254 days to form a new habit. So, don’t expect that it will be plain sailing if you have never prioritised making time to recharge before.
Put boundaries in place to make your time to recharge non-negotiable and schedule it into your week as you would with work and social commitments. Give yourself permission to understand that this is not a nice to have, but essential for you to function, so it is a fundamental need.
Expect that some days will be easier than others, but having boundaries in place will help you maintain your energy levels. For years I would collapse for a few days every 6 months or so wondering if I was ill or not, but knowing that I didn’t have the energy to continue as normal; and it is only recently that I have identified this as an ‘introvert hangover’ due to too much time extroverting.
Not everyone will understand your need for time alone and may take it personally that you don’t want to be them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Prioritising time alone doing whatever you need to recharge: reading, having a cup of tea, a calming bath, or going for a walk; is precisely what you need to be able to be able to keep going.
Explain clearly to them why you need this time and you may find it helpful to tell family members or people you live with when you plan to recharge.
Remember the benefits
If you are ever having moments of doubt about whether this is all just you being needy, overcomplicating life and being a bit of self-centred, remind yourself that time to recharge is not just important for you, but essential. Do you want to be able to do everything you want to do? Do you want enough energy to sustain you at times that are important to you? If you are proactive and make time to recharge part of your every day life, the sky is the limit.
And finally, at a most basic level (and this applies to us all, introvert and extrovert alike) ensure you sleep well, eat well, drink plenty of water, make time to exercise and do things that bring you joy. These items will feed your inner resources that will help to give you more strength to cope with whatever life throws at you.
Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to find out more about how the Quietosophy approach can help you.