An introvert will feel a bit zapped of their energy when they are out and about, and need to recharge by spending time alone. An extrovert, however, thrives on human interaction, getting a good amount of their energy from outside sources and from being around others. Me? I’m a little of both and as a result, get my energy from a variety of sources.
Most people are baffled when I tell them that deep-down I’m an introvert. Granted, I’m no wallflower. When I’m out with people who I know, I’m OUT and loving it. Further, spending time on camera, speaking and leading groups makes me seem the social butterfly. Yet deep down, I crave my alone time as well, and when I don’t get it, I become exhausted.
Spending a good portion of my days writing alone with Diablo – furry feline – by my side, however, I feel my introversion has become a deficit: I avoid networking events like the plague and find it takes extraordinary effort to be social during the work-week. Yet, by evening on weekdays, my husband’s impending arrival home from work seems to take eons, and by the weekend, I’m chomping at the bit, desperate for social human interaction (no offense Diablo).
After a draining, yet fun-filled three day business trip to NYC this past week, it became all too clear just how important human interaction is to one’s soul and mental wellbeing. Our human relationships are crucial to our ability to feel connected, supported, valued and respected. And all of these emotions are important to our overall wellbeing and happiness. I made new friends, met with old ones, and loved every minute of it.
Studies show that people with healthy relationships are happier and have less stress than those who don’t. As a matter of fact, healthy relationships can have a greater impact on our wellbeing than diet, exercise, stress, smoking, drugs, and even, genetics. In a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, it was shown that individuals who lacked social and community ties were two to three times more likely to die prematurely than those who were well-connected. According to Dean Ornish, M.D., founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and author of Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy, loneliness and isolation increases our likelihood of engaging in behaviors deemed detrimental to our health. They also keep us from fully experiencing the joy of everyday life. Love, intimacy, connection and community, however, are healing and have the power to increase health, joy and meaning in our lives. Independent of behaviors, leading a lonely and isolated existence increases the likelihood of disease and premature death from all causes by 200 to 500 percent or more. Yikes!
If you are introverted, I completely empathize…it isn’t easy. But, you’ll be doing yourself a tremendous service if you make the effort to be a bit more social. As much as I love time by myself, interfacing with other individuals who are like-minded, fun and share similar interests gives me energy as well, and makes me feel as though the world is bigger than me (and my cat). Imagine that.
Are you an introvert who sometimes finds yourself desperate for human interaction? Do you work from home and suffer from the same?
Adapted from 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You. Make real, lasting change with this easy to follow, week-by-week guide to healthy change. Get it now at Amazon.com.