10 Ways to Practice Self-Care for Introverted Parents
Introverted parents have it rough. How do I know that? Hello, I’m Maria and I’m an introverted parent. And through this quarantine I have been spending time trying to figure out how to take care of myself, so I don’t go crazy. I’ve come up with ways to recharge my introverted needs. And my family found me to be much more pleasant to be around. I can’t wait to share my findings with all the other introverted parents out there.
Are you introverted or extroverted?
I have to say that the dictionary definition of an introvert and an extrovert does not capture the true essence of what it truly means to be either. An introvert is defined as someone who is shy and prefers time alone. An extrovert is defined as a gregarious and unreserved person (According to Miriam Webster’s Dictionary). Neither one is particularly correct or flattering. Not all introverts are shy and not all extroverts are unreserved.
I think Carl Jung’s definition captures the introversion and extroversion trait the best. He suggested that introverts draw energy from their inner mental life, while extroverts draw energy from socializing with others. And because of that, self-care needed for introverts and extroverts can look somewhat different.
While the quarantine lifestyle may look ideal for introverts who are not parents, for introverted parents, it is its own version of a madhouse. It is incredibly hard as an introvert to have people, especially small children, in your space 24/7. It doesn’t leave much room to recharge and focus on your inner life.
Depending on the age of your child, they may constantly require your attention and help with activities, want to talk to you all the time, want to join you for every activity that you do, and also make a lot of noise. So if you’re introverted, you may have found that quarantine has left you feeling burnt out, irritated, angry, touched out and desperately needing to escape into a dark corner of the house where no one can find you. It’s normal and it’s perfectly fine. We, introverts, just have a more delicately wired nervous system and get overwhelmed by external stimuli a lot faster than extroverts.
If you’re still wondering where on the introversion/extroversion you fall, take this handy little quiz.
Introverted Parents Need Simple Ways to Recharge
I’ve been a huge fan of yoga ever since I tried it. I love the versatility of the practice and how it meets both physical and mental needs. Ever since becoming a mother, I noticed that strenuous physical activity leaves me completely wiped out and unable to carry on with my day. But I am the type of person who values being in shape and loves seeing what physical feats my body is capable of achieving. And that’s where yoga met all my needs. It allowed me to strengthen and push my body and gave me a moving meditation experience. When I’m practicing yoga, it is my time to relax my brain and focus only on my breath and body sensations during poses. It gives me time to draw inwards and recharge.
- Mindfulness and meditation
Adding meditation to my daily routine has been a new thing. I always knew that meditation would be helpful but never found the time for it. Well, now I have made a commitment to myself to meditate for just 5 minutes a day. That’s it. Some days it happens while I’m doing yoga, some days, I just take a few minutes to go into a quiet room and just sit and notice my emotions, bodily sensations and just let them pass through me. It’s so simple but it helps me recharge emotionally and allows me to feel more at peace. The other benefit of practicing mindfulness has been becoming much more aware of my physical and emotional cues of feeling happy, excited, anxious, sad, angry, irritated. It has helped me leave situations that could have exploded but instead I was able to just walk away to calm myself down.
I’ve talked about journaling before and I can’t stress enough how vital it is for an introvert to adopt this practice. Journaling allows us to connect and express our inner world. I’ve adopted a few journaling practices. I have a journal with prompts that I try to do at least a few times a week and I have a journal that is split up into sections where I write down my mood throughout the day and where I recap my day.
Having these multiple journal practices has allowed me to take the time to access my deeper thoughts, be more in tune with my emotional state and to dump out any happenings of the day so that they are not bouncing around my head and causing unnecessary anxiety. So pick a journaling practice that works for you and stick to it. You will find that journaling can provide a great restorative and recharging experience for you.
- Reading a book
I don’t know about you, but I have pretty much stopped reading since I became a mom. My time has become so consumed by everything kid related, that it left no time for either leisurely or educational reading. And it felt like my mind was just starving. So I started carving out time for reading throughout the day. I sometimes read while eating breakfast with my sons or when I put them to bed. Both of them like me to sit in their rooms while they’re falling asleep, so it creates a perfect opportunity to do some reading. Now that my brain is getting a steady diet of good reads, it’s much happier.
- Nature time
I’m not the camping type but I still enjoy time outdoors. So when weather permits, I love taking my blogging or reading outside. I sit on my patio and breathe in the fresh air, while staying protected from all the bugs. I wish I could just do a nature walk by myself but that rarely happens. However, if you have a chance for even a 10 minute walk, do it. You’ll feel so much better and the solitude of the walk will allow for either a moving meditation or just a time to daydream. Gardening has also proven to be a great recharging activity. I would highly recommend it to anyone. And if you’re a newbie to gardening, like me, here is a great post by Ali-ish about planting a vegetable garden.
- Talking to a friend
While introverts do prefer time alone to recharge, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have friends or don’t enjoy spending time with them. Most introverts have at least one really close friend who they love connecting with. And since quarantine has left us unable to socialize in person, write a text, call or video chat to reconnect with close friends. Just make sure that you don’t overschedule your virtual social calendar because then the socializing will move from being restorative and draining.
- Engaging in a solitary hobby
Hobbies keep us sane no matter whether we’re introverted or extroverted. We need things in our life that we do just because we enjoy them. And most likely for an introvert that hobby will be solitary. So pick up a coloring book, a knitting project, test out a recipe, garden, build some furniture, whatever you want, as long as it brings you joy. And try to engage in your hobby at least a few times a week. I know that as parents we are super busy and won’t have time for our hobby every day, so aim for whatever is feasible. Don’t make it an extra to-do item. Enjoy it and recharge!
- Taking a relaxing bath
I think baths are an incredible way to take care of both mind, body and spirit. It helps to relax you physically, brings on a satisfying sensory experience and gives you peace. I love adding epsom salts, lighting a candle or diffusing some essential oils to make it a true spa experience. And if you feel that you are not touched out, invite your partner to join you. It can be a great place to truly reconnect, enjoy each other’s company and have it lead to something more.
- Listening to music
It’s no secret that music has a positive effect on our mental health and it’s a great way for an introvert to recharge their inner batteries. I have found that classical music helps my brain feel more relaxed and I enjoy listening to it at night. I love listening to latin dance music around dinner time because that’s usually the time I need a pick-me-up and it helps to get through dinner with my family. My kids, just like most kids, start to unravel right around dinner, so I need something to keep my mood upbeat to be able to handle them.
- Cuddling with furry friends
So this is for the introverts who are pet lovers. If you have a pet, there is simply nothing better than cuddling up with them on the couch. I have 2 dogs and a cat, and I rotate my cuddle times with them. My cat is a great nap buddy. She can literally make anyone zonk out in a few minutes. My dogs are just these amazing warm, snoring bodies that love to sandwich me, when I’m on the couch. So include your furry friend in your self-care. Cuddle them, train them, talk to them, play with them, take them on a walk. Whatever you choose, it’s a guaranteed mood booster.
Final Thoughts on Self-Care for Introverted Parents
These are just some of the things that I have incorporated into my self-care as an introverted parent. They have greatly helped me cope with parenting challenges, quarantine, and anxiety. Try out the list and let me know what works best for you!