What superpower would you choose to help manage your health? I imagine some people might choose the power to instantly gain or lose weight or to turn their favorite junk food into healthy food. Or maybe you would like to stop time to get some extra sleep. For most Introverts, having time to themselves to process their thoughts and enjoy their inner world is not only a powerful way to re-energize, but it is essential in managing their overall health.
But what happens when you don’t get the time you need to feel your best?
Why Introverts Need Self Care
Last week, I was having dinner with a friend who has a new job. We are both Introverts. She was talking about the amount of time she was spending at work getting to know people, attending lunch and dinner parties, and having to socialize a lot more than she preferred. She commented on the struggle of balancing the increase in work commitments with her need for time away for herself.
I asked her, “What is your plan for staying healthy?” She said, “I don’t have time for self-care.”
This is what I know to be true about managing your health as an Introvert and in my case, an Introvert who has had Type 1 diabetes since I was six years old. Self-care is a superpower. As Introverts, we are at our best when we have the time we need to process our thoughts, manage our mindset, and feel confident in how we handle daily tasks.
Sadly, like my friend, too many of us have not learned just how powerful self care can be and we push it aside, like an afterthought in our busy lives.
First, My Story….
I learned about the importance of self-care when I felt the lack of it and the impacts on my health. Managing your mindset is a key step to self-care and was the first step to my overall transformation. I tried to lose weight, manage my blood sugars, and exercise for years with an on-and-off cadence of success. Have you ever wanted to make a changes in your life, but you always seem stuck?
That was me until I met a new massage therapist. He asked me about my health goals and I shared my struggles with the desire to be healthy. I had Type 1 diabetes which seemed like an impossible disease to manage. So much overthinking and self-criticism would happen every time I would go to the doctor. The massage therapist told me to stop thinking that I was a disease because I was not a “diseased body”. He said, “I have massaged many people and you are not a diseased body. You have very healthy muscles.” WHAT? I was shocked because no one had ever said that to me. He encouraged me to start telling myself a new story to shift my mindset. He said, “How are you ever going to change if you always keep thinking about yourself as a disease?”
I left that visit confused, excited, and curious. I began thinking about what life would look like if I started to think in my mind that I was healthy. I chose a new word for my diabetes and created a new story about who I was as a person and not as a disease. Now, I manage my condition (not my disease) and I am a healthy, active woman with diabetes. I no longer say “I am diabetic” or “I have a disease”. Can you see or feel the difference? This shift in mindset has allowed me to be able to dream bigger and achieve more including becoming a competitive amateur ballroom dancer. What new story could you tell yourself to help you make a change?
I learned that self-care is not optional and is actually one of the most powerful strategies for improving your physical, intellectual, and emotional health. What I found on my own health transformation journey as well as with other introverted friends is that self-care is more than getting a massage or taking a walk on the beach. Self-care is understanding who you are and what your mind and body need to be and feel your best.
The Role of Personality Type
Understanding your personality type can help you discover what types of self-care practices would benefit you the most. With some types, even hearing the word “self-care” may make you twitch because you often help other people before yourself. There are a lot of resources on self-care activities on Pinterest, Facebook and other social media apps. As an Introvert, listening to music or reading a book to de-stress could be everyday living for you and still qualifies as self-care.
How is self-care different for someone who has a chronic health condition and is an introvert? This is a little more complicated. It starts with establishing your self-care foundation: Acknowledge you are worth being first, be aware of your mindset, and accept your starting point.
Acknowledge you are worth being first
Managing a chronic health condition can wear your energy down to a point where you don’t want to do the things you need for your health like eating better, checking blood sugars, and exercising. As a coach, what I find is that people often need to acknowledge that their desires are just as important as everyone else in their life. Burnout and stress levels tend to increase when we allow the investment in ourselves to decrease. Invest in you first and you will increase the quality
Increase your self-awareness
Be aware of the signs that your mind, body and spirit are trying to tell you throughout the day. My sister always teases me and asks me for my cape back as if I thought I was Wonder Woman. That’s because I tend to give a lot of time to help other people in my life because it brings me joy.
The downside is that I had to learn not to give 100% of me away, so that I still had enough energy and strength to do what I wanted to do. As an Introvert with a chronic condition that meant I needed to establish some simple, daily, non-stressful self-care practices. For example, I created a playlist on my phone to listen to in the morning called “AM High Vibe” to start my day with positive energy and encouragement.
Accept your starting point
Sit down and have an honest talk with yourself about what aspects of your life and health strategies are working well and which ones need improvement. Accept where you are at without judgment and without shaming yourself. The goal to self-care is to explore, nurture, and enjoy your inner world to accomplish what you want in life.
How can you boost your health with self-care?
Self-care comes in many forms just like superpowers. We are multidimensional people which means focusing on the different needs you have as an Introvert are key to success. I encourage you to create a list of 5-10 self-care practices that you can choose from when you need them. Experiment with something new to boost your health and energy levels. Below are a few recommendations:
- Breathe – Try a new way to move that incorporates breathing. Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong are impactful for introverts and involves breath work to calm your mind and body.
- Try laughing yoga – You can find laughter exercises and songs on YouTube. One minute of laughter boosts the immune system for 24 hours.
- Take a 5-minute dance break – Put on one of your favorite songs or music and shake it! Dancing is one exercise that benefits both your mind and body.
- Explore with your mind – Self-care is about nurturing your mind as much as your physical body. Many introverted types are energized by learning a new subject. Take a free online class to help you feel like you’re making progress in your life or career.
- Try on an alternative perspective – Sometimes we need to get out of our own thoughts and head. Put your challenge or issue on a piece of paper in the middle of the table and pretend you are an observer to this challenge. What do you notice about the situation? What solutions might you suggest to this person? What do you see differently as an observer?
- Create or revise a habit – In order to decrease stress as a Type 1 diabetic, I had to make certain health activities as part of my everyday life. Tracking blood sugars or even remembering them was challenging. I created reminders on my phone and started using an app to track them. What health habits could you recalibrate on?
- Imagine that you are your best friend – What advice would you give to your best friend about how they are struggling.
- Connect with a trusted friend – As an Introvert, spending a little time with a trusted friend who is positive and listens to you can boost your mood.
- Schedule a date with yourself – We live by our schedules in today’s world. Add a one-hour date with yourself to your calendar to do whatever feeds you
Self-care practices have the potential to help you conquer everyday stressors and challenges with personal health goals, especially if you have a chronic condition. Self-care will allow you to have the energy and positive mindset to achieve your goals and be healthy!