Taking care of yourself isn’t always easy, and it can be even more of a challenge when you’re an introvert.

Our brains work differently, and situations that don’t bother extroverts at all can literally suck the life right out of us. The things we need to stay mentally healthy — like a solid dose of daily alone time — can seem foreign to others. It’s difficult to give yourself what you need when the people you care about simply don’t understand.

As introverts, we tend to push ourselves to keep up with our extrovert friends and family members, neglecting our unique needs. We feel selfish for wanting to be alone and ignore the voice inside our head telling us exactly what we need to do. This often leads to a vicious cycle of anxiety, irritability, and exhaustion.

It’s time to recognize that self-care for introverts is not only not selfish, it’s absolutely necessary. Here are five tips to help you recognize what you truly need, honor your feelings, and find the balance you’ve been craving.

Re-Evaluate Your Commitments

Whether it’s lunch with a friend or a neighborhood block party, making plans to go out can leave you feeling like a bundle of nerves.

You prefer to spend your evenings at home alone with Netflix or a good book, but friends and family aren’t always on board. You end up feeling guilty about not wanting to accept invitations and often do things you don’t want to do in an attempt to placate them. Unfortunately, forcing ourselves into social situations we’re not comfortable with can leave us feeling “off” for days after.

It’s important to pay attention to your energy levels and how commitments affect you. Sometimes, when it comes to being social, we have to make decisions others may not agree with in order to protect our mental wellbeing. Stop making plans simply to appease others and focus on taking care of yourself.

Know When to Say No

Learning how to simply say “NO” is one of the best self-care tips for introverts. If you don’t feel like doing something, don’t force yourself. Say no and (more importantly) say it right away. Telling someone you’ll think about it only causes more stress as you try to figure out how to get out of it.

Remember that you don’t have to make excuses or justify your answer. Don’t let others try to guilt you into changing your mind or push you for a reason. Let them know it’s nothing personal, but it’s just not the right time for you to accept their invitation. The more you practice sticking to your guns, the easier it will be.

Check in With Yourself

Learn how to recognize when you’ve had enough of being around people. When you start to feel irritable, overwhelmed, or emotionally drained, it’s time for you to take a step back and schedule some “me” time.

It’s not unusual for introverts to feel anxious about losing time that could be used for non-social events. Going too long without addressing these feelings can leave you feeling resentful towards the people who talked you into going in the first place. Address this before it becomes an issue, and both you and the people around you will reap the benefits.

Take Time to Recharge

For introverts, taking time to recharge is critical. You wouldn’t feel lazy or self-indulgent for taking a prescription medication, so you shouldn’t feel that way about making self-care a priority. If you let yourself get overly stressed or burned out, it can compromise your immune system lead to serious health problems.

After navigating your way through stressful social situations, set aside some to rest and recharge. Try spending the day in bed with your partner, taking a hike alone, or dancing around the house to your favorite music. Find what makes you feel better and fills you with joy, then make that a priority.

Embrace Your Differences

When you spend time around extroverts, you may find it frustrating that life seems so much easier for them. Instead of comparing yourself to them, embrace the fact that you simply have a different type of personality. There is nothing wrong with you, and there are plenty of other introverts in the world who feel exactly the same way you do.

Once you recognize and embrace your differences, you’ll feel far more comfortable communicating your needs and taking the time to nurture yourself when you need it most.

Originally published at blissquest.net