We’ve all been there. We have a full day of work meetings, social engagements, life admin tasks to do, and there is no time for yourself. All these interactions can quick drain your energy, and even more so if you are an introvert or neurodiverse. It doesn’t matter how much you may love and adore the people we are with – eventually you notice that you’re quieter, it’s harder to find the words you want to say, and instead of being involved in the conversation you start zoning out. Your close friends might be used to this and just let sit there in your bubble. But when you want to make sure you stay “on” for a long time around lots of different people, how can you find quick ways to top up your energy levels?
1. Movement, big or small
Fresh air and a little space is always a great way to calm an overactive brain, when the thoughts are all there but the words won’t come out. Even a 5 minute walk outside to the next building and back can be surprisingly refreshing. Even if you can’t go outside, any length of walk can help get the blood pumping back into your brain. At work? Try walking to a further bathroom. At home? Mix up your stride length to activate your brain as well as your circulation – take a few small steps, then some larger ones. Walking in a way that is out of your routine engages different muscles, including your brain.
Yes, this means there is actually an argument for a Ministry of Silly Walks.
If you can’t get outside or away from people, (or you don’t want to try out your new walking style in front of an audience!) find the quietest space you can. Put your phone on silent and pretend to listen to a voicemail. That way you will look busy but you don’t have to talk to yourself.
Unless you want to, of course. That can feel good too.
But if a walk isn’t an option, then perhaps a stretch is possible. Test out a few exercises you can do at a desk, or while seated on a chair. Even tapping your toes counts!
2. Zone IN
You’re used to zoning out, but have you tried zoning in? Think of it link a mindfulness exercise. Pick one think to concentrate on and focus on it. Maybe it’s a wall hanging, or a clock. Your drink can be good for this. Look at your lemonade. Concentrate on the bubbles. The speed at which they move. The different sizes of the bubbles. Where are they close together, where are they spread out. Then move from the sight of the bubbles to the sound of the bubbles. Listen as intently as you can. Zoning in to something for a few minutes is a great way to get your brain to stop bouncing from one thing to another. A few minutes of zoning in is like giving your mind a few deep breaths.
You can also approach this as a grounding technique, such as the “5-4-3-2-1” exercise, or describing what you can see using each letter of the alphabet. These techniques enable you to calm down the chaos in your mind that takes up much of your mental energy. By focusing on one thing, it distracts you from your other thoughts and give you some calm before you move on to your next interaction.
You might want to try calming spin rings. They can help give you some focus while your thoughts settle, and they are conveniently right there in your hand!
3. Fake productivity
Being productive feels good. When you check an item off your to-do list, or you finally finish writing that first draft, that hit of dopamine kicks in and you feel accomplishment, with a renewed energy in your soul that can push you through the next challenge. But big wins take time, and sometime you just need a little nudge to keep going. After all, you can’t finish your screenplay or crush your deadlift record during a party. But you can hide away somewhere for three minutes and play a quick game on your phone. You can get a pretty good, albeit temporary, sense of satisfaction from pseudo-productivity, such as crushing candies, jumbling words, or catching Pokémon – just enough of a dopamine hit to keep you going!
Have you tried any of these tips? What works for you?