When you’re an introvert like me, you spend a lot of time feeling overwhelmed. Who can blame you? Introvert overwhelm is a natural side effect of being an introvert in an extrovert’s world.
As an introvert, you are more easily overstimulated by things like noise, crowds, and bright flashing lights. You wish you could press pause on life, so that you can take it all in and process the chaos. Because here’s the thing about introverts.
We process more information at a given time than extroverts. Our mind is like a high-end computer that can hold a whole lot of data. We take in so much information that we need more time to make sense of it all. Unfortunately, time is in short supply in our fast-paced world. And introverts are suffering for it.
Signs that you’re struggling with introvert overwhelm:
- You feel chronically exhausted, even when you get enough sleep
- You’re constantly irritable and on edge for no apparent reason
- You often zone out and shut down at work or social settings
- You feel mentally fragmented, as if your thoughts have gone through the shredder
I’ve been there. In fact, I used to live in a constant state of introvert overwhelm. Everyday, I felt like I was swimming against giant waves of overstimulation. The people, the ever-growing to-do lists, the constant noise pollution, the crowds — it was all too much.
Nowadays, I’m much better at keeping introvert overwhelm at bay. I’ve learned the secrets to prevent it, as well as how to curb it the moment it starts to set in.
In case you’re struggling with introvert overwhelm, I’ve put together my best advice to conquer overwhelm, and stop the burnout cycle. Here we go.
3 Crucial Steps To Conquer Introvert Overwhelm:
1. Focus on prevention.
Have you noticed that we live in a culture that focuses on treatment over prevention? Mainstream logic tells you to just pop a pill, or put a Band-Aid over whatever ails you. When it comes to introvert overwhelm, prevention is your salvation. Because guess what.
Once overwhelm gets its claws into you, your energy and motivation levels are already in the negatives. At this point you’re more likely to reach for a chocolate bar and Tylenol, than a yoga mat. So, how exactly do you prevent introvert overwhelm? It’s not as hard as you might think.
It all begins with the 3 P’s: Plan, Prepare, Protect:
Plan your schedule, so that it allows pockets of solitude, and replenishing activities, such as candlelit baths, meditation, and walks.
Prepare for activities by reducing stimulation and steeping yourself in solitude before you go out. Then set yourself up for an easy escape by having your excuses to stay home on hand.
Protect your mental and physical energy stores by saying no to unnecessary obligations. Be a valiant defender of your own precious time — after all, if you don’t protect your energy, who will?
2. Simplify your life.
Humans have a natural addiction to problems. Solving life’s various conundrums often gives us a sense of purpose. It also leads to severe introvert overwhelm. Set yourself up for greater happiness and ease, by simplifying every aspect of your life.
One easy way to simplify your daily life is to let things come to you. This one concept has been a real game changer for me. Instead of wearing myself out by going all over town to find the people, activities, and commodities I want, I allow them to come to me — or at the very least, meet me halfway.
Introvert nourishment at your doorstep
As a hardcore introvert who lives on an island, I LOVE it when goodies are delivered straight to my mailbox. My friends Stacey and Chelsey, founders of The Wallflower Box agree.
“As introverts, living in an extroverted world can be draining, overwhelming, and challenging,” says Chelsey, who is also an INFJ and a professional mental health counsellor.
“In an effort to support and refresh introverts, we created The Wallflower Box, a monthly care package for female introverts designed to nourish, renew, and energize wallflowers and their quiet qualities.”
Each month, the mother-daughter duo curate a unique box of goodies from the areas of bath and body, books and literature, cozy apparel, notebooks and journals, cosmetics, jewelry and accessories, delicious snacks, and special gifts selected with the introvert in mind. It’s the perfect way to simplify your life, conquer introvert overwhelm, and discover quiet bliss.
Here is a sneak peek inside one of the boxes:
3. Set boundaries without guilt.
Boundaries are an introvert’s best friend. Unfortunately, many of us feel guilty about setting even the most basic of boundaries. Remember, as an introvert, your need for solitude is more than a preference, it’s absolutely crucial to your health and wellbeing. Ask for space, say no, express your needs, and don’t feel bad about it.
As an introvert, you have a right to edit and shape your life according to your innate needs. — Tweet This
We dive much deeper into this topic of introvert overwhelm in the below interview with The Wallflower Box cofounder and professional counsellor Chelsey Brooke.
What about you, innie friend?
Do you struggle with introvert overwhelm? How do you cope? Please do share your insights and experiences in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Wonderful article Michaela! Clear, precise insight, and I love the 3 P’s: Plan, Prepare, Protect. It explains so much how I felt in the past. Also, setting boundaries is something I had quiet a few problems with in the past, but like you said, everything changed when I learned to say no and establish my healthy introvert boundary. 🙂 Amazing article Michaela, well done!
Hi Michaela. This is a very well written article and very simple to apply. I used to get overwhelmed at work or in business, because I’m a do it all kind of guy, I focused too much on efficiency versus what’s effective. I learned quickly that life doesn’t always turn out the way we idealize it to be. Wishing doesn’t get anything done and doesn’t change a thing, either we adapt, learn and grow form these lessons or we get pulled down in the undertow of overwhelm. I had to learn all this the hard way. Thankfully I take time to myself more, don’t get pulled in all sorts of directions and prioritize my me time and delegate when possible. I spend more time training others to be more helpful in accomplishing necessary tasks and as such this frees me up to be productive in other areas. Boundaries and assertion I’ve known for some time and exercise my rights. I say no to the things I want and yes to the things I do want.
This is really good advice Michaela and well worth the minimal effort it takes to act on this advice. Well done!! 🙂
Great advice. And the Wallflower Box sounds like a nice treat for introverts. Will the cosmetics and bath/body products be cruelty-free? (Another thing many of us introverts worry about;)
That is a great question, Sherry. The items change from month to month, so I’m sure there is room for adjustment if they did not take that into consideration initially. I will pass your question along, and let you know what Chelsey and Stacey say. 🙂
Here is The Wallflower Box’s answer to your question, Sherry: The vendors we purchase from in the areas of bath, body and beauty provide us products that are natural, organic, or vegan and do not test on animals. Basically, they are “cruelty free” in the sense that they don’t test on animals, but we hesitate to use that term since not all vendors can afford to go through the process provided by leaping bunny to be cruelty free certified. We just try to be as clear as possible and say “natural, vegan, or organic” and “not tested on animals”
I’m thankful to have found your wonderful article it’s very helpful. Thank You
I’m only just beginning to accept that many of my ‘issues’ are in fact characteristics of being an introvert and empath… only just beginning to stop listening to my Inner Critic and start to listen to my body and my instinct instead.
So I’m systematically going through all your articles Michaela!! Finally discovering who I really am after a lifetime of searching ( I didn’t actually know what I was searching for, I just knew that my life wasn’t balanced and it wasn’t feeding my soul) I have finally found the real me!
Knowing who I am is helping me to not only to create the life which nurtures my soul, but also to create a way of working which also nurtures my soul ie a mix of being on my own but also co-creating workshops and courses with other like minded souls.
Thank you! xx
I get angry, depressed.. I shut down. I resent anyone who infringes on my solitude. I need to be left alone before and after my hectic workdays AND after a long day of socializing. Sometimes light and sound even upsets me.