Recently I made the longest and furthest trip ever without my husband, and the first back to South Africa since we moved to London, from South Africa. It was an incredibly packed 2 weeks with business to finish off (banks, mobile contracts, dentists, hairdresser), seeing friends and colleagues, and a week-long awesome family visit.
If you’re an introvert like me, you might know that we need silence and solitude to recharge our energy batteries. Else – exhaustion, irritability and even resentment follows.
I found these tips very helpful and am ever so grateful that I could action them.
All of them involve making sure you have SPACE and TIME for yourself.
Tip One: Family space
For the week-long visit in Margate with my elderly parents, I booked a holiday home close to their Retirement Village, instead of staying with them. My sister also stayed with me. This gave me the opportunity to switch off at least twice a day, from all the family activities and conversations. Early morning we went for beach walks, which started the day off in nature. I saw whales and dolphins which filled my heart with joy and gave me energy for the day. Then, we spent the day with our parents and between 6 and 8 pm my sister and I returned to our holiday cottage. Everyone still had their own bathroom, enough privacy, enough space – and we didn’t get in each others’ hair.
Looking back, I’m so grateful for the bit of space at the beginning and ending of each day to feel like I could come back to center, and silence.
Tip Two: Friend space
For my time in Johannesburg, I made a conscious choice not to stay with friends. I had an invitation from our previous neighbour – and I turned it down with great love and kindness. I booked AirBnb’s in 2 different areas, close to the appointments I had made. The first place was absolutely stunning with crystal glasses, a bed and antique furniture fit for a queen, with a private patio looking out over a magnificent pool and garden. The beauty around me filled me with joy and energy every day. Again – the quiet space at the beginning and end of very busy days gave me the chance to recharge. If I’d been with friends, I would have found it harder to retire early and ask for quiet time.
The second AirBnB was simpler, a bit smaller, yet still equipped with everything I needed. It had no TV and that was the best thing so I truly had silence every evening.
Tip Three: Ask for help
I asked for help! (Gasp!) I’m usually the one to take responsibility for everything and ride in on my White Horse to do things for everyone else … well, this time I knew it was going to be a taxing time. I received this wonderful advice from my precious friend Annabel Fisher, who is living her last few weeks on earth due to cancer. She’s walked a long, arduous journey with learning to be vulnerable and not take on too much. So I put my pride away, and asked friends whether they could fetch and drop me. I was so grateful and pleasantly surprised about the gracious, kind offers of help all around me. Thank you, friends!!
Annabel shared with me this wonderful reminder: “I’ve learned people are super happy to help – we need to have the courage to ask them so they can be of service ❤️”
Tip Four: Do what’s good for you
Every afternoon at my parents’ house, I announced that I was going for my usual walk….I walk a lot in London, and when I have a lot of social interaction, it’s even more important to me to have time where I can think and process the day’s events. If you’re concerned that people might think you’re rude – I get it. It used to be my thoughts, too. However – if we don’t give ourselves what we need to be healthy, and well on the inside, we (and the people around us) will pay the price. You can frame it in a way that explains that it’s truly in everyone’s highest interests.
Tip Five: Combine appointments – make the most of your time
I usually prefer one-on-one appointments – and this time I knew I was going to run out of time to see all my precious friends separately. I organized one or two where I saw 3 friends at the same time. They all knew each other, so it felt like a happy reunion of priceless relationships – and I got to see them all, instead of missing out on some.
Bonus Tip: Learn to be direct
On the day I traveled from Johannesburg to Margate, I woke up with a runny tummy and nausea. Ugh! Why that day?? I had meds with me and still didn’t feel great. On a bus there was a lady who just kept talking to me. I was sitting with my eyes closed on purpose to ‘send a signal’ that I’m not available. Time and time again she asked probing questions. I get she’s interested in people – yet after the third time I had to speak my truth. I let her know I felt nauseous and need my space. It felt pretty uncomfortable, to be that direct, yet I realised with this lady that silent signals did not work. And if I didn’t speak up, the loser would be me.
Even if it feels rude to us, the other person may not think so. Please do what’s good for you. We can be direct with kindness. It doesn’t have to be impatient or cruel.
What are YOUR tips?
Please share your best tips for recharging during busy times. I enjoy and reply to each comment. Or if you enjoy FB, you can comment on the original post and read the thoughts of other introverts here.
May you be as kind with yourself as you are with others!