Depression is a clinical disease that affects more than one in six adults in the United States. Some groups are more prone to depression such as women, pregnant individuals, and introverts. Speaking of the latter, when you think about the stereotypical nature of introverts, it may not be surprising to you to hear that they’re more prone to the condition.
Carl Jung’s research on introverts and extroverts found introverts prefer environments that aren’t overwhelming and require more time to recover their energy when they are stimulated. This can look like spending significant time alone and suffering in silence when they’re facing challenges.
“A lot of introverts stay to themselves,” says Nandi Dillard, LCSW, whose work is based in Coconut Creek, Fla. “So you’re not going out, you’re not interacting with people. We all need human interaction. We all need connection. We crave connection. So when you’re not getting connection, it’s an issue.”
As National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, here are some ways introverts can prioritize a healthy, happy mind that don’t require them to stray too far from what they’re comfortable with.
Stick to a Routine
Because of the pandemic, working from home has become more common than ever before. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of people working remotely went from nine million to 27.6 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Working from home can be a relief for introverts but it can also be a risk factor when it comes to their mental health. For this reason, Dillard suggests sticking to a routine that incorporates mentally and physically nourishing activities during breaks in your day.
“During this break you could journal some thoughts, you could do yoga,” Dillard suggests. “I like to do those five minute YouTube video workouts.”
She also suggests people consider naps for recharging if possible. Even if you don’t work from home, incorporating wellness into your daily routine can help you feel connected to yourself and mentally content.
To some people, writing out their feelings seems pointless, but studies show that it can help your mental health. Just journaling for 20 minutes a day has positive health effects like fewer doctor visits, lower blood pressure, and helping people recover from traumatic experiences.
As Dillard suggests, consider journaling during your lunch break or before bed. Choose a time that’s convenient and commit to doing it daily or several times a week. It’s a way to get your feelings out even if you’re not up for talking about them with anyone.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
No doubt, it’s uncomfortable to put yourself out there as an introvert because your default is spending time alone. While it’s a wonderful thing to be comfortable spending time in your own company, social interaction is critical too.
A study of 7,000 men and women found individuals who were disconnected from others were almost three times more likely to die during the duration of the study than those with strong social ties.
For this reason, Dillard encourages her clients to get out and socialize.
“I always push them to be uncomfortable, not so much [that] it’s crippling, but you know, go out, meet people, talk to people, set boundaries,” she explains. “It’s so important to have boundaries, know your limits, know what’s too much, what’s just right, and when it’s time to go home.”
If you’re feeling reluctant to get outside or stuck in your comfort zone, try taking baby steps to start. That could look like a 30-minute lunch break coffee with a friend or setting a goal to touch base with friends on the phone once a week.
Have Friends Come to You
When leaving the house feels impossible, invite friends to come to you. Focus on spending time with people who make you feel safe and loved when considering having friends over. If you’re worried about the awkward thing that happens when people visit and overstay their welcome, communicate clearly about how long you want them to stay. A true friend shouldn’t be mad if you communicate that you only have two hours worth of social battery to give them for the day.
Connect With People Online
While there are many arguments that social media connections are affecting people’s ability to interact in person, this isn’t always the case. It’s possible to make real connections on social media and Dillard says that’s better than nothing.
“It’s not a permanent fix, but something just to get you warmed up if you can’t go out,” she says. “It’s definitely just a placeholder. It’s a temporary fix, but real social interaction is always encouraged.”