Last year I did not take care of myself. I didn’t eat well nor did I get enough sleep. I struggled with mild depression and I was sadder than normal. My energy level was low and there were moments when I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was irritated and annoyed with most aspects of my life. I had problems with some of my friendships and I felt like I was spending time with people who used me as their emotional dumping ground. I had a lot of stress as well because I was working full-time while trying to finish my grad program.
Recently I’ve started to have health problems and this has made me realize that I need to focus on self-care. I’ve been having lower back pain which is most likely caused by the fact that I sit at my job all day. I’ve also been having recurring skin issues with eczema which can also be related to stress. These health issues are causing me to make sure that I take better care of myself.
Eating healthier – I’ve always been good at eating healthy but last year I began eating more junk food and that isn’t good. This year I’ve been cooking more and making sure that all of meals are healthy.
Getting enough sleep – This year I’m making sure that I go to bed between 9:30 and 10 pm (I wake up 5am) so that I can get plenty of sleep. I take naps if I feel tired and that helps me to feel energized as well.
Exercising – I make sure that I exercise at least 2 times a week. I’ve started focusing on yoga which had really helped my lower back.
Ended energy zapping relationships – I am a very supportive and empathetic friend but I have a hard time when someone dumps all of their emotional problems on me. I’ve come to realize that some people have nothing but problems and I can’t be their therapist. I’m working on maintaining the friendships I have with my small circle of friends that are just as supportive of me as I am of them.
How do you make sure that you take care of yourself?
As an introvert, I know that I need a lot of alone time. I’ve started to realize that I need to give myself even more alone time than normal after stressful weeks at work or multiple social events back to back.
A few weeks ago, I had a very stressful week. I had multiple days where I worked late. I also had to train someone and by the end of the week, I was exhausted and my energy level was so low that I could barely keep a thought in my head. I spent that Friday evening and Saturday morning sleeping and relaxing. Saturday afternoon/evening I spent time with my family and friends and I was out until early Sunday morning. I woke up on Sunday and I needed to run errands but I was so drained that I couldn’t do anything. I hadn’t recovered enough from my stressful week and I added to my low energy level by socializing for several hours on Saturday. I ended up spending all of Sunday recovering and I didn’t start to feel energized until the Tuesday of that week.
I realize that I need to get better at scheduling alone time and allowing my mind and body to recharge properly after stressful weeks at work. I also feel like I need to schedule only one or two social events per week but not on the same day. It’s important for me to be more mindful of how I’m feeling and to give myself permission to say no to events so that I can recharge myself.
As an introvert, do have trouble scheduling alone time? What is your favorite way to recharge?
I found a list of 100 writing prompts on emotions here and I’ve decided to write blog posts on each of these emotions. The first “emotion” on the list is Birth. In my first blog post, I wrote how I tested at 100% introvert on the Myers-Briggs test, which makes me an extreme introvert. Since I am so introverted, I often wonder if I was born an introvert or if I’ve become a more introverted person from life experiences.
My parents often tell me stores about how I was quiet and reserved around strangers even as an infant. I only wanted to be held by my parents and I was uncomfortable around their friends. I even have baby photos of their friends holding me and I always look like I’m about to cry. As a child, I enjoyed one and one activities and I never liked group activities. This meant that going to child birthday parties or large social events was something that I didn’t look forward to doing. As much as I preferred to be around my immediately family, I still needed my own space and moments of solitude.
From elementary through high school I was bullied and I had difficulty forming friendships with others. These experiences had a profound impact on my life and they have a lot to do with how I interact with others even today. Being bullied made me withdraw deeper inside myself because of the hurt and pain that I was going through. I learned to embrace being alone and to trust only myself. Since I had difficulty making friends, I learned that not everyone is going to accept me for the person that I am. I take my time getting to know others and I’m not immediately trusting of everyone.
I believe that my introverted personality started at birth but that I probably became even more introverted because of my life experiences. Regardless of the reasons, I’m learning to accept myself more and more each day.
Do you think you were born an introvert or have life experiences also played a part in shaping your personality?
English: An image of a lot of cubicles that seem to go on forever (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I started working at my job, we didn’t have cubicles and I loved it! The floor had been designed with small offices that held one or two people. I shared an office with one other person and we were both quiet people who concentrated on our work. Last year, a decision was make to tear down some of the offices and turn the space into cubicles. My officemate and I were forced to move into cubicles and since then, it’s been difficult for me to adjust to my work environment.
I hate the fact that you have no privacy when you work in a cube. Everyone can see your computer screen and they can also hear your phone conversations. This makes it impossible to have discrete conversations. I work with sensitive accounting information. What I’m working on and the phone conversations that I have about my work should be private.
It’s also very noisy where I work. I sit by people who are loud talkers and insist on putting their phones on speaker each time they get a call. I also sit by a person who sings out loud, which is rude. I listen to music in my earphones to try and drown out the other noise but there are days when this doesn’t help. I miss the days when I could close my office door and drown out all of the noise.
Another aspect of working in a cubicle that I dislike is that I always feel like I’m being watched. My direct supervisor works in a different location and I feel that the other managers in my location are constantly walking by to “check” on me and my other coworkers even though we turn in our work on time and never miss deadlines.
Ideally, I would love to work in an environment where I had my own personal space. I feel like it would help me to be more productive if I worked in a quieter work area.
I am currently reading “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You” by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. According to Wikipedia, a “highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high psychological sensitivity.” I’ve always felt that I was more sensitive than other people to noise, touch, emotions, and moods. I read this book a few years ago and at the time I was trying to “find a cure” for this trait because I really felt that I was overly sensitive about things and I felt that something was wrong with me. This time I’m reading this book to be more accepting of myself. I want to understand this trait and to view this trait in a more positive way. Each chapter of this book has different exercises that you can do to help you reflect and I plan to share some of my reflections on this blog.
There is a self-test at the beginning of the book that asks 23 true or false questions to help you identify with whether or not you are a HSP. I answered true to 20 questions. According to the test instructions, if you answer true to 12 or more questions then you are likely a highly sensitive person. There are many traits that are listed in the self-test that make me a highly sensitive person but the traits that I’ll speak about below are the ones that I strongly identify with
- I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment – I always pick up on very subtle changes in my environment that most people don’t seem to notice at all. I’m very attuned to what is going on around me even when I don’t seem like I am.
- Other people’s moods affect me – This is a huge trait for me and it’s something that I have to deal with everyday. I take in the moods of others and when someone is in a negative or a really bad mood then it affects my mood in a negative way. In order to maintain my own mood, I try to stay away from people who are constantly angry or bitter because I know that their moods will affect me too much.
- I tend to be very sensitive to pain – I can’t take a lot of pain and something as simple as a paper cut can feel very painful. Whenever I got to the doctor, and especially to the dentist, I have to make them aware of my sensitivity to pain.
- I have a rich, complex inner life – I live in my head and this is where my creativity and deep thought comes from.
- I am made uncomfortable by loud noises – Loud noises really bother me and this probably explains why I have a fear of thunder.
- I am deeply moved by the arts or music - There is a deep sensation that I feel when I visit a museum, see a dance, or listen to music. There is a profound connection that I make with art and music.
- I startle easily – I’ve always know this about myself but I was not aware that this had something to do with me being a HSP.
- Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood – This is another trait that I didn’t know had something do with me being a HSP. I’ve always said that I must have my meals on time and when I don’t eat at a certain time then I get very, very angry. This is one of the reasons why I always keep crackers at my desk in case I’m not able to each lunch on time.
Since March 2011, I have been working full-time and studying as well. When I leave work I rush home to start homework and I no longer have time for myself. I’ve been feeling stressed and anxious because I don’t have a lot time for reflection and true solitude. Daily moments of solitude are critical for me as an individual. Solitude helps to rejuvenate my spirit especially when I’m feeling drained. It’s my time for reflection and deep thought. I’m able to focus and solve problems. It’s also the time when I’m most creative.
In June, I made the decision to take a break from classes for the summer so I could rest and relax. Everyday I come home , I turn off my phone and my computer, and I spend hours writing and creating art. This is the happiest I’ve felt in a long time.
In the past, I’ve written about my dissatisfaction with social media and Facebook in particular. Over the past few months I’ve been feeling depressed in part because of things I’ve been seeing on Facebook. I’m not sure how this happens, but I can see when my friends comment on the status updates and photos of their friends even when I’m not friends with these people. This has lead to me finding out about the lives of so many people that I’ve gone to college with and they’ve become very successful in the professional and personal lives. It’s seems like so many of my former classmates are married, have kids, have really good jobs, and are working in careers that they enjoy.
I’m not the type of person that compares my life to the lives of others. I think that we all have our own paths to take and no ones path is the same. Recently, I find myself becoming sadder with the way my life has gone. When I was in college I did not envision my life the way it has turned out. I thought that I was be able to find a job that I really enjoyed and to live the life that I really wanted but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve struggled in my professional and personal life from the moment I graduated and on top of the that I’ve been supporting myself financially since there was no way I could live with my family and have them support me. I wasn’t able to take internships and really low paying work to explore certain careers because I would not have been able to pay my bills. Another issue is that I have depressive episodes in my life and it’s hard to deal with issues when you feel sad and anxious.
I found some of my old journals from ten years ago when I was 25 and many of the issues that I was dealing with then are the same issues that I’m dealing with now at the age of 35 and it doesn’t seem like I’ve grown at all. Back then I was single and I’m still single which is fine because I value my independence. I always thought I would have met someone who I’d be happy with by now. When I was 25, I was working in a bad job but I had to stay there in order to support myself and that was a struggle. Even though I’m not working at the same job, I work in a job that makes me unhappy. I was also dealing with my depression back then and I still deal with it now. The only thing that has changed in the past 10 years is that I’m in grad school and this is something I’m really proud of.
I’ve decided to stay off Facebook for a while and to focus on my goals for work and school. Once I’m finished with my classes I’ll be able to focus more on other aspects of my life this summer.
This video has 12 examples of how to not treat your introverted friends and family members. I think that anyone who is an introvert can relate to this video.
A confidant is a person, with whom one shares a secret or private matter, trusting them not to repeat it to others.
I don’t have a confidant and I’m a little jealous of people who have one (or two). There isn’t anyone in my life that I absolutely trust with all of my secrets and personal thoughts. Trust is a big issue for me and there are 2 or 3 people in my life that I trust and they aren’t even my confidants. Growing up, I’ve come to realize that you can only tell certain things to certain people.
Another issue I have when it comes to revealing my thoughts is that I’m a highly intuitive person. I can always tell when someone has good or bad intentions and I pay a lot of attention to my intuition because it’s never wrong. My intuition also guides me in my everyday life and I can “predict” how certain situations will turn out. Many of my friends and family are more logical in their thinking and they can’t see past what’s right in front of their face. Many of them have been dismissive of my thoughts and feelings because there was no logic behind what I was thinking or feeling. I can understand why some of my more logical family members and friends don’t appreciate the fact that I base my decisions on my intuition however; all of them have at some point come back to me and told me that I was right in what I was thinking or feeling about a certain person or situation. Yet, these same people are still dismissive when I say something. As time has gone by, I have learned to keep my thoughts to myself and to let them figure things out on their own.
I believe that the closest things that I have to a confidant in my life are my journals and my blog. Both methods serve as a means for me to confess everything that I’m thinking and feeling.
I would rather work from home than have a four-day work week. Working from home would be an ideal work situation for me since it’s quiet where I live and I prefer to work alone. I’d also be able to concentrate more since I wouldn’t be interrupted repeatedly through out the day.
One of the cons to working from home is that people can begin to feel lonely since they aren’t able to interact with others through out the day. This would not be a problem for me. First, work has never been a place for me to socialize. I go to work to do work and that’s all. Second, I have had enough of working with people to last me for the rest of my life. I would not miss the forced interactions and office politics that are a part of working in an office.
Working from home would also help me to save money on gas/public transportation. I feel like I would have less expenses and maybe I’d be able to travel more and pursue other interests. As I continue to pursue my professional goals, it is my hope that I will eventually be able to work from home.