Life in fast forward

reading-925589_1920I wanted to share a quick update to let you know I’m still alive. I was hoping things would slow down after the wedding. And in a way, they did. I ended up getting sick and fighting a cold for a week or so. Likely a result of late nights and long travel days. But as I recovered, things shifted into overdrive.

This week has been fun but draining. Monday and Tuesday I had dance class. The first is a partner dance, the second is solo. Dance is a creative and emotional outlet for me and it helps with stress relief. But it’s still a social activity. Tonight, I’m skyping with an out of country friend. I’m looking forward to it but it’s still draining. Thursday is a games night at my place with a few close friends. There will only be four of us and shouldn’t be too bad. I can always check out early if I need to. Friday afternoon is free of social activity but I still have errands to run. This weekend will have a few social obligations but I’m hoping I can keep them on the shorter side. I’ve been doing my best to squeeze in quiet time before bed. But I need more time to fully recover. Right now it feels like I’m treading water. I’m planning on spending a couple of hours on Sunday going for a quiet walk along the river. I may also bring a book. I think that will help a lot.

On the plus side, the weather here has improved dramatically and it seems spring may actually be on the way. It’s also been wonderfully sunny and bright which always makes me smile.

Do you have any plans this weekend? How have you been doing?

7 introvert survival tips

happiness-1866081_1920Being an introvert in an extrovert-friendly world is a challenge. You have people who try to change you or condemn you for the way you function. Even though knowledge of introversion is spreading, it’s far from being widely accepted. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful in staying true to my introverted self.

1. Take care of your body & mind.
Introverts are often very sensitive to and aware of their environments. Loud conversations and constant stimulus drain our energy. If we look after ourselves, our ability to handle these things increases. It’s important to get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, eat healthy nutritious meals, get active, and take care of your mental health. Although this is definitely easier said than done and I’m still working on it 🙂

2. Nurture positive connections.
We all need a connection with others. The best way to show people you care is to spend your time and energy on them. It’s also important to remove toxic people from your life. If this isn’t possible, try to restrict the amount of access they have to you. Surrounding yourself with positive people will lift you up and encourage you.

3. Create and enforce boundaries.
As a recovering people-pleaser, I used to do things to please others, often to my own detriment. Fortunately I’ve been able to make a lot of positive changes since then. By setting and enforcing boundaries, you show others how they’re allowed to treat you. It takes time and practice to get used to, but it makes life a lot easier.

4. Work on good posture.
This is actually something my dance instructor taught us. Upholding a straight posture makes you look more confident, even if you don’t feel it inside. But if you carry yourself with confidence, others will often treat you with more respect.

5. Master the graceful exit.
This comes in handy when you’re in a conversation going nowhere. I’ll usually thank them for their time and mention how it was nice talking with them. Then I’ll give a reason for my departure and head off. Also ensure you have a way to get home if you’re at a party or event. It’s best to travel solo, bring money for a cab, or travel with an introvert with similar energy levels.

6. Create calming rituals for before & after busy events.
I’ve started using a day planner to block out time before and after busy events. This allows me to mentally prepare for an event and recharge after. Plus if it’s in my planner, I’m more likely to actually do it. I’ll usually spend that time with a book and a cup of tea. Or I’ll light a candle and snuggle up with a blanket. Hot baths are always a relaxing option too.

7. Don’t let fear control you.
I’ve had a lot of regrets. Most of the time it was things I regretted not doing. I was afraid of what others would say. Or that someone would make fun of me. Or that I’d fail. I’ve been slowly learning to do things to push me outside my comfort zone. Having a supportive friend really helps. Or sometimes I’ll do research in advance so I’m more mentally prepared. Baby steps are totally acceptable.

What are your survival tips?

Introvert guide: self care

self careI read a blog post a while ago that really resonated with me. I’ll include a link to it here. It’s talking about how necessary self care is to maintain both physical and mental health. When we hear the words ‘self care’, we usually think of the fun stuff. Alone time, bubble baths, reading a good book, or going for a walk. All these things are great, and should be done! But we often don’t think about the less glamorous, but equally important self care tasks:

  1. Write it all out.
    Write up a list of all the things you need to do (and have probably been putting off). Then, beside each task, give yourself a reasonable deadline. I find that writing things down helps me remember them and helps organize my thoughts.
  2. Pay your bills.
    This is an important part of daily life but I always wait until last minute. Paying your rent, utilities, phone bill, internet/cable bill, credit card payments and more is incredibly important. Or if they’re withdrawn automatically, be aware of when they’re taken out and ensure you have sufficient funds available in your account.
  3. Work on your budget.
    If you’ve already perfected your budget, that’s fantastic. For the rest of us, especially starting out, it can take some tweaking to figure out the best way to direct our funds. But once you have a budget in place its easier to start saving and planning for future purchases or events.
  4. Maintain your vehicle (if you own one).
    Things like oil changes and regular maintenance help prolong your vehicle’s efficiency and can circumvent potential issues. You can even learn how to top up your own windshield washer fluid and change your own oil.
  5. Keep your living space tidy.
    Doing the little things can help contribute to peace of mind and contentment. Finish washing up those dishes in the sink, sweep and mop the floor, vacuum, make your bed, organize and de-clutter the counters and table. You’ll feel so much better when things are in order.
  6. Maintain your body and mind.
    Keeping up with dental check ups and vision exams is so important. Work on mindfulness, meditation, or breathing exercises if you need to find peace of mind. If you’re struggling personally, counselling may be something to consider. Your mind and body are so important and deserve special care.
  7. Strengthen personal connections.
    The people we surround ourselves with are the ones who enrich our lives. Take extra time to connect with those you cherish. Let them know how much they mean to you. This doesn’t mean you have to invite them out (though you certainly can if you’d like). Even sending a quick email or text can help strengthen those bonds.

Do you have any additional self care tips?

Image credit: “Self” by Jenavieve is licensed under CC by 2.0

Learning to be “selfish”

SolitudeI’m the kind of person who, up until a few months ago, would say yes to every request that came my way. Yes, of course I can drive you to the airport. Sure, I’ll help you move your stuff into your new apartment. Okay, I can do that for you. No problem, I’ll be there around 3. And while its a wonderful thing to be helpful, it can become too much at times. When you start sacrificing your time and effort for others, its easy to forget about your own needs.

I volunteered to move a friend a few months back. It was supposed to take 2-3 hours, so I drove over after work and started helping out. I didn’t pick up anything to eat, because I thought it would finished by dinner time. It ended up taking 6 hours, I didn’t get home til nearly 11 pm, and the only thing I had to eat was an apple. Needless to say, I had compromised myself, in order to help a friend. Am I happy that I was able to help her? Of course. But in retrospect, I could have taken better care of myself at the same time by eating before going over, and taking small breaks.

I wrote a post a while back about struggling to say no. I’m still working on it, and its getting better. I can now refuse invitations without feeling horribly guilty. I still get twinges of guilt, but knowing that its okay to say no, has helped immensely.

And if people think I’m selfish for needing alone time, even after I’ve explained it, then so be it. Its so important to take time for yourself. If I don’t give myself the space I need, I won’t be able to recharge and feel better. Don’t feel guilty for needing alone time. Take time to treat yourself to a new book, or something good to eat. I’ve had to learn that if I’m feeling overwhelmed, the best thing to do is refuse invitations to social events. One, because I wouldn’t enjoy it, and two, because I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything to it. Respect yourself and your boundaries, and others will respect you for knowing your limitations. Of course, we still need to be social at times. But if we take extra time for ourselves when we need it, we can contribute far more when we do go out.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It took me 25 years to learn this and I hope that others can learn this more quickly than I did 🙂

How do you take care of yourself?

Image credit: “Solitude” by Len Matthews is licensed under CC by 2.0