Over-Stimulation & The Need for Silence

No post last week – if you noticed and missed it, my apologies. If not, well, it doesn’t matter now, does it? But it is relevant to this week’s post that last week’s never materialized.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve needed to be quite a bit more social than normal due to some changes at work. These are good changes, not bad, and the “more social than normal” thing is temporary (it was waning by last Friday, thank goodness) and was necessary. I knew this logically before it even happened (and I was aware it was going to happen). So I’m not complaining, but the fact is, I just don’t deal well with stuff like that…it’s a bug, not a feature.

Quick super-basic reference going forward, keeping in mind that these are sliding scales, and many (most?) people are somewhere in the middle:

Introvert: Someone who gets energy/recharges by being alone (I am on the extreme end of this scale/continuum, and always have been)
Extrovert: Someone who gets energy/recharges by being around others

I think a lot of us, whether we’re introverts or not, tend to discount just how much “down time” an introvert (like myself) needs to recharge. And by “downtime”, I don’t mean time not doing anything, I mean time to be alone in my head without anyone else there too (so devoid of outside stimulation like conversation, TV/radio noise, etc). I can very easily recharge while working on a project at work, so long as I’m working on it by myself with little or no input from others. At home, I can sort of recharge with the TV on, but not well…I really kind of need a few hours of quiet to myself, but I can be writing or blogging or cooking or whatever – I don’t need to be in some sort of meditative state, I just need time to think and process and not constantly be filtering outside stimulation.

It all sounds very narcissistic, I know, but it’s how my brain works, and when I don’t get that quiet time to recharge, I get crabby, and angsty, and even more socially awkward than I already am (which is not pretty, and can lead to some pretty big misunderstandings simply due to my lack of thought before speaking/typing/whatever…and that’s embarrassing, at best). I second-guess nearly everything I do and every interaction I have, and worry piles up in my head because I have no way to process even normal, daily occurrences if I don’t have that quiet time to myself to think.

Needless to say, between work and home and family obligations for the past couple of weeks…it’s been rough. I’ve been crabby, and anxious, and awkward, and constantly second-guessing myself, and unable to make decisions, unable to keep track of all the things that would normally just be a matter of course, and barely able to get my writing time in. One of the serials I just couldn’t even deal with – it was emotionally draining to write on a good day, and with everything else demanding every ounce of energy I had just to “act” somewhat normal from day to day, I just…couldn’t this week, so I ended the story on a not-so-satisfying note, and that was that.

And that’s why there was no blog post last week. It was all I could do just to maintain my normal daily life in the face of too much chatter and general “noise” all around me, with not enough silence to allow me recovery or processing time. The blog post and several other things just had to be let go, because I could not deal with “just one more thing”. Which is frustrating, but it is what it is, and I didn’t handle it as well as I could/should have.

I love being around the people I like, and I love a good conversation just as much as the next person, and I love TV and movies and music and all sorts of things that involve being with/ around people or stimulating the mind.

But I *need* silence. I crave it, but more than that, I can’t actually function for long without it. Which wouldn’t be such an Achilles heel for me if I could just learn to do one little thing:

When I need quiet, I need to ask for it. Or just take it.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? But like many women, I’m good at taking care of others and making sure their needs are met. Not so good at making sure I get what I need, especially if it means someone else won’t get what they need (not right away, in any case).

But considering I can’t function well without that quiet time, it’s in everyone’s best interest that I get it. And I need to keep that in mind when I find myself getting overwhelmed and anxious – that I will be more useful after a short break alone than I’d be without one, and that if I need to take a couple hours to myself at home to recover from a busy day at work, I shouldn’t be shy about just saying that. I just need to do it.

As I said, the work situation is leveling out, and things will be back to normal soon. I’ve got the prospect of a week off in the near future to look forward to as well – a really big reboot, so to speak.

I’m really going to try harder to make sure I get the quiet time I need on a daily basis from here on out. There will always be days where it’s just too chaotic and there’s no way to break free, but it’s rare that I can’t snag some time *somewhere* to rest and recharge.

Taking care of ourselves. Novel concept, isn’t it?


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