“When you honor your body, mind and spirit you are saying to the universe, ‘I love you’” –Panache Desai
Most of us look forward to the weekend. Whether it’s for sleeping in late, catching up with friends, spending time with family or enjoying the occasional getaway, the weekend breaks up the routine of the work week and reminds us that life is more than just toil.
For those of us who are introverts, the weekend is especially valuable as a time for reclaiming the space and solitude we need to refill our energy tanks. Getting adequate rest is important for everyone, but as an introvert, I am biologically and physiologically wired to need not just lots of downtime, but lots of “me time.”
Any introvert will tell you that scheduling “alone time” to replenish our energy after the rigors of the work week is not a luxury. If I don’t regularly return to my natural element of stillness, silence and solitude, I stop feeling like myself and literally cannot function.
Weekend guilt: Why introverts can have it bad
So many people complain that the weekend is too short, and many of us struggle with the pesky feeling that we’re wasting our weekends. Whenever I feel like the weekend has flown by before I could really enjoy it, it’s usually because I allowed the nagging impulse to do more and be more distract from my enjoyment of the present moment.
Also, as an ambitious introvert, I can feel guilty and lost if I’m not in the process of pursuing some goal or the other, particularly when I finally have the solitude to do so. Yet doing nothing is a worthy goal in and of itself.
Another reason weekends can feel inadequate is because, in a fast-paced world, resting isn’t valued as much as it should be, so when we rest we don’t feel the same sense of accomplishment or satisfaction as when we work. Introverts, who have a pronounced need for silence, stillness and reflection, can feel odd, embarrassed and out of place when, all around us, society expects and praises busyness.
In fact, we’re often guilt-tripped by our more extroverted friends and family who are stimulated and socialize differently from us. Here are five tips for owning your weekends and feeling good about it.
The weekend is the perfect time to make yourself unavailable to all but a few choice people. There is such a thing as being over-connected, a state in which we’re always “switched on” for the benefit of others, with a myriad of ever-shifting demands placed upon us.
Switching off the television, radio, computer, and cell phone allows us to recoup from our lives of chronic engagement, multitasking and information overload, and get back to the calmer pace of pre-technology life.
As an introvert, I use the Internet and text messaging to interact with the world with minimal drain on my energy. To avoid dependency and overuse, I have chosen to not join any social media platforms and I use a free time management app that limits my screen time.
Research shows that too much technology use has adverse, wearying effects on the mind and body. Studies have documented the health benefits of unplugging for even a few hours, everything from better sleep and reduced muscle pain, to improved mood and concentration.
For some of us, the weekend is the only time we have to do brunch with a friend, attend church, complete chores or volunteer. If you’re a non-social introvert who is actively trying to be more social, it can be tempting to fill up your weekends with extroverted activities and social engagements.
While it’s practical and healthy to use the weekend to get things done and connect with people other than our co-workers, it’s also important to make sure our weekends aren’t hectic and over-scheduled.
Most introverts prefer weekends to be low-key and leisurely, yet we still have a deep need to meaningfully connect with others. We can find ourselves struggling against societal norms that pressure us to approach weekend activities the way extroverts do.
For example, I prefer to attend social events with a set beginning and ending time, but my more extroverted family and friends plan social events that are often improvised and can seemingly go on forever. I regularly have to remind myself that it’s okay to leave an event “early” even if I’m the only one doing so.
The key is to remember that because of the way we’re wired, we have an extra need for solitude and require longer periods of mental and physical recuperation. Trust your body; it’s a better gauge for ensuring your health and sanity than social norms.
Let go of the idea that you’re boring for not wanting to spend the entire night at a dance club, or that you’re somehow missing out on something if you accept your introverted preferences.
Free time is anything but a waste of time; it’s actually an investment in our relationships since we’re best able to give to others, contribute to our communities and enjoy experiences when we’re energized. Remember, quality not quantity is what counts.
Meditation is a gentle but powerful way to release tension and stress accumulated during the work week. I have discovered that getting in touch with and nurturing a connection with the present moment is key for accessing healing, self-acceptance and joy. We all have the capacity to experience this powerful awareness of “being-ness”, but this requires that we slow down and focus inward, something that us introverts know how to do very well.
Mediating doesn’t have to mean sitting crossed-legged on a yoga mat with your eyes closed. You can meditate by listening to guided meditation audio while driving, doing meditative physical exercises like tai chi and qigong, or actively staying aware of your body and non-judgmentally observing your thoughts as you stroll through the park.
What is most important is to find the form of meditation that feels freeing and comfortable for you.
4. Master self-care
The weekend is the perfect time to refocus on our bodies and shower our introverted souls with attention. The exertion required to interact with extroverted co-workers and function in overstimulating work environments can leave us tense, numb and physically drained.
Also, many of us work in mentally demanding professions that keep us locked into the sphere of the mind and disconnected with the wisdom of our bodies. Introverts, who spend most of our time in our heads to begin with, can experience this mind-body disconnect more acutely.
Taking long, hot showers, or relaxing in a mineral bath soak are great, effective ways to get back in touch with your body and reward yourself for challenging yourself all week. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation or treat yourself to a massage. Aromatherapy oils like lavender and juniper, and soft, soothing music also have positive, calming effects on the autonomic nervous system.
I drink soothing herbal teas like chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm and kava teas that have been proven to aid physical relaxation. I own a bubble foot spa massager that I use ritualistically on weekends, and I make sure a significant part of my weekend is spent outside in nature, even if it just means sunbathing in my yard.
Remember, self-care means different things to different people. An extrovert might care for herself by shopping in a busy mall, while an introvert who likes to shop might care for himself by shopping online. The key is to nurture your soul by doing something enjoyable that makes you feel healthy and happy, and that connects you to your authentic, sensual self.
For introverts, activities like gardening, painting, crafts, baking, journaling, people-watching, yoga, swimming, cycling and dancing have relaxing effects and can be done alone or with just one other person.
5. Rest intentionally
It’s perfectly okay to keep your weekends sacred for solitude and rest. Rest as a spiritual principle is an age-old tradition evident in the existence of customs such as the Sabbath and the Spanish siesta.
Rest doesn’t necessarily mean inactivity or sleeping; rather, rest is the mental and spiritual state of being in harmony with ourselves, the world and the divine. In this state, the soul is untethered from the pressures of life regardless of what we are doing.
I’ve found that the more I embrace this spiritual heritage of rest, the more I open up to an authentic experience of life as an introvert deeply attuned to my true desires, natural habits and what I have to offer the world.
If you’re an introvert, know that your need to rest and withdraw regularly is not a weakness. Rather, it’s a call to intentional living and an invitation to return to a wise equilibrium. It’s a chance to come home to yourself, and to find joy in the wonders of life that are often missed in a world of distraction.
6. Embrace your own path
Frank Sinatra famously sang “I did it my way.” So do it your way. Trust in the divine wisdom that made you exactly as you are for a reason. There really are no rules, so own your introverted weekends. Know that you are free to use this time on earth as you wish.
As you veer off the beaten track of conventional weekend expectations, you’ll discover a vast freedom to experience life at your own pace, in your own beautiful way, in your own comfortable skin.
Summer Edward is a writer, poet, educator, children’s literature specialist and wellness advocate from Trinidad. She holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology and an M.S.Ed. degree in Reading, Writing, Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and is the recipient of a Roothbert Fellowship awarded to people motivated in their life’s work by spiritual values. She uses the expressive arts to advocate for mental health wellness, personal growth and a culture of healing. You can connect with her at her personal website: www.summeredward.com.