I really do consider myself an introvert. And a highly sensitive one at that.
But, I’m also ever so curious about life and places and people and love the sense of adventure and excitement that comes from being ‘outside’.
Right now, there could not be more adventure in my life. Literally!
It’s an odd thing to ‘suddenly’ live a life in a different country, a new and hectic city, all new people and all new (documentary making) skills.
This (sort of) digital nomad style life, is nothing like what my life was like a few months ago and I love it! I truly do, it’s a big adventure, I’m living my dream and it’s all by my own choice so I’m no where near complaining about it.
But…it’s a rather big thing for an outgoing yet supersensitive introvert like myself…
These past 5 weeks have been super intense and I’ve just let myself go with the frantic flow that makes up life in Berlin whilst on a 2 month documentary making course. And though fantastic, I have noticed that it has taken me away from myself. That I’ve drifted downstream a bit and that doesn’t feel a 100% right.
It feels like I’ve leaned a little too much on my extraverted side and the introvert in me is slowly starting act up (well…retreat actually like true introverts do).
And though my life is of course a little ‘out there’ at the moment, this is not the first time that I’ve experienced this. I’ve been through this when I was a little too much invested in corporate work, then came the same thing in startup work and yet another time when I was building my own business (of course there were lots of personal things going on too and it’s not the business that is too blame).
It happens, constantly, and I know it’s not just me!
And it’s tricky for extraverted introverts; we may feel strong and think we can manage but we really need time to recover. Our body, mind and spirit need extra care and if you neglect them for too long you might topple over the edge into burnout, depression, migraine, skin trouble and/or a back that just won’t move (yep, all first hand experience).
But let me first talk you through the general warning signs that tell you that the introvert in you might be in need of some tender lovin’ care:
Your emotions are a bit ‘off’
They usually slowly spiral down and it gets harder and harder to simply feel happy or simply get excited over something.
Luckily, I’m not there yet and I generally feel happy but I’m also really steady (and safe) with my emotions (as in, no big ups or downs). Really steady, and that hardly ever happens…
Your body waves a red flag
Your body is always right! Often, it starts with feeling a bit under the weather but it can definitely evolve in to more severe signs of bodily distress.
Right now, my skin is all over the place even though my skincare regime or my food intake hasn’t really changed (well, there’s a bit more falafel and diet coke in my diet than I’d like to admit).
You can’t seem to get a move on
You’re able to do the things you need to do but often lack the energy to do anything on your free time. You might even feel totally listless (as in lying on your bed and bingewatching Netflix for days listless)
In my case: I don’t feel like running or doing yoga at all; I’m on my bike for at least an hour every day so I know I get exercise but still, I love running. I love yoga. They both do great things for me so why am I not doing it?
Small things suddenly become really big
For some reason, your mind gets in overdrive about things that really don’t matter that much but that do somehow cause you to feel bad.
I’ve been feeling rebellious for a couple of weeks now without a trigger or cause for example; there’s nothing wrong with not agreeing with the system but this just felt like it was negativity for the sake of negativity. Why Linda, why?
You might think I’m overreacting because we can’t always be in a super duper happy healthy state right?
You’re totally right but…when you know your senses are prone to overstimulation and when you know your own history of pushing boundaries way too far and when you’ve experienced the negative consequences…then these are warning signs to be taken seriously.
So there you are (again), with frayed senses and an obvious need for a solid foundation to accommodate your whirlwind life (no matter what that looks like).
What do you do?
Well, let’s draw some inspiration from the ever cool James Altucher and focus on getting a little bit better in each of these 4 areas every single day:
1. Physical Health
It’s all about food, sleep and exercise isn’t it? And making sure you get stronger and fitter every day or make sure there’s at least no decline…
In my case, sugar and carbs are my enemies…I’m a vegetarian and don’t even drink alcohol but I’m a sucker for sweets and salts. So lets start cutting down on the cake a bit…
2. Mental Health
In the case of the extraverted introvert in an highly stimulating environment this means consciously clearing your head as often as possible. So yes, that means meditation, or running, or fishing or whatever does the trick for you.
I might take my hiking boots and camera to an abandoned hospital in the forrest coming Sunday and have a quiet day outside. And schedule to have 1 of those quiet days each and every week; I need them, so I should plan for them!
3. Emotional Health
Closely linked to mental health because the more quiet your mind is, the more space you’ve got for your emotions to be where they are (and for you to be simply okay with them).
I’m not worried that my emotions will either overwhelm or abandon me but I will however take 10 minutes every day to just sit and feel. Something that used to be daily practice but was ‘forgotten’ in these past weeks.
4. Spiritual Health
This is the accumulation of the above 3 practices; the healthier you’ll be in those areas, the healthier your relationship with your spiritual self will be. What that means in practice: more inner clarity, more intuitive empathy for the people and world around you and an enhanced ability to build authentic connections with the people you meet.
For me, I can definitely be more conscious of each and every interaction I have and make an effort to find some inner quiet every morning (and cut the sugar!) to enhance my clarity.
So, will you never ever go off course again if you follow these guidelines? No, of course not; you’re probably a stubborn human being just as I am and likely to make the same mistakes over and over.
But recognizing, acknowledging and taking action against these warning signs here and now is what it’s all about. Before things get out of hand. Before drastic action needs to be taken.
And that, really taking responsibility for yourself and your health (even if that means scaling down your social interactions big time), is the strongest thing any extraverted introvert can do.