The terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ are banded around quite a bit, you may even have taken a quiz to work out which you are, or decided on your own to which camp you belong. But do you really know what the differences between the two are? and what the two terms really mean?
Although certain personality traits can be the result of being an introvert or extrovert, they are not in fact the true definition. The true difference between an introverted and an extroverted personality lies in your brain. How it processes dopamine and other chemicals released in the brain during certain activities, and how tolerant your brain is to these chemicals. In other words your brain either rewards you or it doesn’t!
Introvert or Extrovert, Whats the difference?
To summarise in the simplest of terms introverts can become exhausted with the amounts of dopamine your brain produces, causing them to no longer get excited, or that ‘high’ from social interactions or doing exciting things we love. They have a lower tolerance and therefore feel the need to withdraw and regain their energy and balance. Extroverts on the other hand, your brains feed off the dopamine produced during social interactions and activites, your brain has a much higher tolerance and cannot get enough, it never tires of the dopamine chemicals you receive.
The other big difference in an introverts and extroverts brain function, is how they process ‘alone time’. As as introvert your brain enjoys the softer and calmer feelings that come from a chemical called Acetylcholine. This chemical is released when you spend time in introspection, alone with your thoughts and shut out the noise of the World. It leaves you feeling happy, but is a more gentle and chilled out ‘high’ than dopamine, and without the risk of overstimulation and exhaustion. But this particular chemical only works for introverts! The brains of the less sensitive extroverts, you guys have very little response to Acetylcholine at all!
If you want to know more you can read the full article here.
Introvert or Extrovert & how this effects your self-care
What does this mean when it comes to the important task of self care?… The term self-care encompasses a lot of different things, but in essence it is time away from others. Time spent on your own looking after your body, mind, and soul. Whether that’s time spent journaling, reading a good book, indulging in a hot bath and a face mask, or doing the deeper inner work – Getting to know yourself better, learning what makes you happy, what you want for yourself, where you need to improve etc. All of these past times are by nature things that you would do alone.
As an introvert you are naturally drawn to these kinds of activities like a moth to a flame, as an extrovert however these past times aren’t always your cup of tea or don’t leave you feeling as rewarded and fulfilled. But that doesn’t make them any less important. I think the key here is to be aware of how your brain works and make adjustments.
How your body naturally processes energy affects how are you should be practising self care.
Self-care for Extroverts
As an extrovert you may not feel like you need much, or any, alone time. But be mindful that we all need some time to process our thoughts and emotions. Knowing that you need self-care and time for introspection to work on any self improvement and ensuring you can be and give the best version of yourself to everyone else, should be a good motivating factor to schedule some ‘me time’ into your routine.
If you struggle with spending time on your own or long periods of time in your head try incorporating group activities or something a little more social around your self-care time to keep your extrovert brain happy. Here are a few of my examples:
– Arrive early for a coffee date with friends and spend the time journaling or writing out your emotions
– Try a group meditation instead of meditating on your own
– Take a yoga class instead of a home practice to mix things up a little
– Go for a long walk in nature on your own, but make plans to see friends afterwards. Or instead of spending time in nature on your own take a friend with you, but agree on a set amount of ‘quiet time’ first
– Take a few close friends for a spa day or beauty treatment instead of going on your own
– Go to your favourite cafe to read a good book
Self-care for Introverts
As an introvert you thrive on quite, introspective, alone time. If anything you need to be careful of spending too much time in your head or on your own! Although you will feel the need for more self-care than an extrovert to help you deal with daily life, be mindful to balance your alone/self-care time with spending time with one or two close friends and people who don’t drain your energy.
Just because Introverts have a pretty good handle on spending time alone, that doesn’t mean you have perfected your self-care. Introverts can be guilty of daydreaming or over-thinking things (& situations), and tying their thoughts up in knots. Here are a few self-care ideas for you that don’t involve you spending too much ‘unproductive’ time in your own head:
– A home yoga practice that focuses on your breathing and physical movements – a good yoga practice pushes you to be in the movement and in the moment, NOT in your head
– Set yourself a timer or set time for journaling/writing in a diary or whatever form you use to help you deal with thoughts and emotions and process things
– Spend time walking and connected in nature, but stop off at a nice cafe on your way home. Or volunteer to walk a dog from your local pets home
– Make arrangements to see your friends, but have plans for a long hot bath or a good book to read for when you get home
– Take an art class or a group meditation instead of practising on your own. This still allows you quiet, introspective time, but will give you a small does of social interaction too. Without being too overwhelming.
Id love to hear if you try any of these tips and how they made you feel. Or if you have a few suggestions of your own to add, send me a message!