Maintaining energy levels can be challenging for an introvert, even when you’re around people you love. Taking holiday time doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re helping to recharge your energy levels. In fact, even spent amongst your most beloved family members, time off can still drain you.
If you’re an introvert mom with kids home from school this summer, you’ll probably understand what I mean. In fact, Brenda from space2live writes with such honesty and vulnerability about this topic in Confessions of an Introverted Parent (and more – I love her writing and encourage you to check it out).
In my recent post, Can We Leave Habits Behind?, I might have made our family trip to Kauai sound blissful. Well, it was.
And it wasn’t. We certainly had our fair share of ‘gray zone’ activity, which happened to include a hurricane/tropical storm watch that put us on evacuation alert for a couple days.
You’d think, after three weeks on a dreamy getaway to a tropical island oasis, I would return home with so much energy that I would be bouncing up and down all day with total enthusiasm, raring to take on the world.
That’s partly because:
- even in my most healthy and vivacious moments, I don’t behave like that. It’s simply not me. Instead, my energy is expressed in a calmer way that is warm, confident, positive, deeply grounded – and would never be described as anything close to effervescent.
- I underestimated (perhaps ignored) the reality of spending so much time together as a family with none of the usual outside buffers (friends, school, sports, jobs) to create the routine pockets of space that I sometimes take for granted.
I admit that I dreamed of a family vacation where we would melt into each other and strengthen our bonds. In truth, that dream was not based in our full reality. I chose hope and possibility instead of strategic planning.
Of course it was a fabulous trip and we enjoyed our time together. Still, the extended time away became challenging for all of us.
My husband, the most extraverted in the family, went a bit stir crazy without his job, colleagues, community interactions, and guys from his soccer team to chat with.
My daughter, a teenager and more of an ambivert I think, made it clear on about day two that she would rather be back home with her friends. That emotional roller coaster continued throughout the three weeks together. Did I mention how brilliant she is at pushing my buttons?
And me, the strong introvert? I ended up having to kick them both out on a couple of occasions because I couldn’t stand all the noise and drama and activity that they created (they couldn’t stand how rigid I was becoming). I needed my alone time to do nothing but daydream in quiet, even in paradise!
I am a firm proponent of plenty of solitude and time to retreat. But this vacation served to remind me that, in itself, going on holiday (or being alone for that matter) doesn’t necessarily equate to restoring your energy levels.
The key is what you’re doing (or not doing) for your energy tanks when away and/or alone.
So it’s really important to pay attention:
- to the situations (in all their detail – who, what, where, how, when, how long etc.) that drain your energy;
- and equally, to notice what specific situations boost your energy.
That clarity will help you factor in some important lifestyle modifications.
Here’s the thing. I know this. You know this. Yet we still struggle our way through sometimes, not wanting to accept the truth. We’re not perfect.
It’s normal, but not very helpful, to wish things were different. But there’s no use feeling guilty or upset about your need to replenish alone in a way that may only make sense to you. Be honest and have the courage to create the space that you need for your well-being. Factor this knowing into all of your planning; including family relationships.
As an introvert, managing energy levels is one of your most important – and possibly most challenging – regular tasks. Learn how to do it better (custom fit for you) each day so that you can enjoy your best life – and have something left to share with the people who matter most to you.
6 thoughts on “Maintaining Energy Levels Is NO Vacation (Family Time)”
Love your openness. As an extrovert, I probably wouldn’t think about issues like this for myself. Unfortunately as a society, we have little understanding of what it means to be introvert or extrovert. We think its about personality being outgoing or shy. When I had to use the Myer Briggs Personalty test in career counseling sessions, I finally understood how 2 types respond to energy, situations, tasks, work situations and best career options. Seeing the dynamics of personalty types within a family and how it occurs on vacation is so interesting. How many families return from that longed for vacation with no understanding of why it wasn’t perfect. Great read. Thanks
Thanks for sharing your insight Roz. I appreciate your feedback 🙂
I’m an extrovert, but could still very much relate to this post. I can get so caught up in the idea of the ideal family vacation/get together/holiday that I often forget to take time to exhale, enjoy the moment, and take a little break to recharge when necessary.
Thanks for your comment Kimba. Yes, trying to measure up to an ideal image is tiring for anyone.
The difference for introverts in this scenario is that simply being around people too long (even when we love them and even when we’re not trying to measure up) – without meaningful and regular alone time structured in – drains us, whereas a more extroverted person would generally gain energy from all the interaction, noise and activity until, at some point, they finally feel the need, as you say, to take a little break.
You probably would have been able to ‘hang in there’ (actually a more extroverted person might not even describe it that way) longer than I did with fewer of those breaks, and I would still be feeling lifeless for at least a day afterwards until I got enough quiet solitude to recoup back in my own space.
No matter who we are, the key is to understand ourselves enough to create a lifestyle that allows us to function at our best. It’s a journey.
Thank you for the very kind mention!! I truly appreciate it.
I could relate to this post 100%. I often have visions of dreamy family bonding vacations but they don’t always live up to my expectations. As a single parent, I am spread thin when it comes to making sure each child (I have 3) is cared for and gets enough attention. This doesn’t change when on vacation. Bickering and complaining still happens. I will say that the last vacation to Washington DC was rather pleasant. I think activities and sites are good distractions from everyday frustrations. I also had my own room in the condo we rented so I could escape at night to my own retreat. Very helpful. 🙂
Thanks for your comments Brenda. I’m a fan!
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