Being an introvert in an extrovert’s world is exhausting. It feels a lot like running through thick mud. The faster we try to go, the more stuck we get. Before we know it, we’re knee deep in the brown stuff with no escape in sight.
Ironically, one of the most effective ways to move forward as an introvert is to retreat. Although, people usually think of a retreat as a getaway lasting at least two days, the key aspect of a retreat is simply to withdraw.
For introverts, this could mean withdrawing into nature, or simply into our room. We might also step back from our usual social circles so that we can reconnect with our inner voice.
Energy healer and friend Alexa Linton points out that self-care practices, such as retreats, are not just for special occasions. “It’s not like we can only make time for ourselves once a month and that will be enough,” she explains. “It’s like adding kindling to a fire. We need to incorporate weekly and daily restorative practices into our lives.”
Having a morning ritual of drinking our tea in quiet is a great way for introverts to add a mini retreat to our day. Other ideas include:
- Going for a walk in nature
- Watching animals (research has shown this reduces stress)
- Bringing our full attention to eating a good meal
- Reading for pure pleasure
- Any kind of creative expression, such as photography, writing, drawing, or dancing
A Retreat For The Mind
Often, removing the excess in our routines is even more effective than any addition would be. Cutting back on social media and other electronic distractions is a great place to start. We can also create mini mental retreats by removing unnecessary decisions from our lives.
Many people don’t realize how mentally draining decisions can be. This is because every decision we make takes mental energy. The hamster only has so much juice. The more energy we sink into making choices, the less we have for other things.
Routines and rituals eliminate choices. They put certain parts of our day on cruise control, allowing us to free up mental space for other more important things … like daydreaming.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, try reducing the number of decisions you make in a day. Decide ahead of time what you will have for lunch each day of the week. Put a morning routine in place that doesn’t require much thinking.
Whether our retreat is mental or physical, it does not have to be a solitary act. With the right person, withdrawing in tandem is even more rejuvenating than it would be by ourselves.
At the moment I live in a quiet little suite overlooking the ocean. Every morning I see an elderly man rowing past, his wife sitting serenely across from him. I used to wonder where they were going, but then I realized that wasn’t the point. Being on the water quenches their need for solitude. They are already exactly where they want to be – alone together on their daily retreat.
Surprising Spaces To Retreat
We don’t need to find a cabin in the woods to go on a retreat. There are plenty of places to withdraw in our everyday environment. What matters most is that our mind has space to wander without too much interruption. A park bench, a quiet cafe, a public garden, a room with four walls – all these are wonderful spaces for a mini retreat.
One of my favorite places to retreat is a Thai restaurant near where I live. The atmosphere is simple, spacious and calm. One of the things I like most about this restaurant is how the employees treat me. They acknowledge and serve me with a polite warmth that is never imposing.
Even though I’m a regular, they never ask my name, or what I do. Some might view this as cold, or sterile. Such people would prefer to go to the place where “everyone knows your name”. For introverts seeking a sliver of solitude, a sense of anonymity is bliss.
Over To You
What’s your favorite way to retreat as an introvert? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂
Lots of love,