mental wellness

Wholistic Self-Care for Introverts

Being an introvert in our fast paced world can be downright exhausting! Keep reading for some of my favorite self care tips and tricks to keep your cup full!

(This post contains affiliate links)

 
Wholistic Self Care for Introverts with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story | Use Essential oils, intentional rest and activity, and healthy eating habits to refresh yourself
 

Over the weekend, I was in tears by 9am. You see, the previous two weeks had been going, going, going with wonderful but extremely social events every single day, and I am an introvert. Out of curiosity, I conducted an informal survey of my instagram followers and found that 90% of them identified themselves as introverts, too, and we had some wonderful conversations about the challenges of keeping our cups full in a social and fast paced world. You see, the reality for introverts is that if we don’t take time for self care, time to recharge between events and gatherings, then we can go a little crazy. This is how I devolved to a puddle of tears over the thought of taking my own (relatively well behaved and easily bribed with fruit leather) children to the grocery store on Saturday morning while Hubster attended a networking event. In the wake of my meltdown, I took some focused time for self-care, and I wanted to share some of my favorite tips with y’all as well.

What Is to Introversion?

Okay, I hear y’all in the back saying, “But HollyAnne, you’re loud and friendly— there’s no way you’re an introvert!” Let’s take a second to talk about what introversion actually means. First, it is NOT the same as anti-social. I love people and being around people. This is how I had a meltdown— I LOVED all the activities of the last two weeks. That’s why I said YES to all of them. But I get my energy, my deep down fill my cup energy from the quiet, alone times. That is the key— extroverts gain energy from being around others while introverts gain energy from solitude, quiet, and / or time with just those closest to them.

I already referenced my favorite analogy, but let me take a moment to talk about “filling your cup” or “gaining energy.” Each of us is like a cup or vase, and what we give to others (everything from feeding our kids to volunteering to collaborating on a team) pours out from our cup. Extroverts are filled by being around others so social situations keep their cups full to overflowing. Too much downtime, though, (or too long without grown ups for my fellow mamas) and extroverts will get antsy. Introverts must rest in order to be refilled. Too much running around, doing, adventuring, etc leaves my cup empty and makes me emotional and not very fun to be with. But, when I take the proper time to rejuvenate regularly (rather than crashing and then refilling), I can serve and love from the overflow. Living in emotional abundance is the sweet spot, so let’s take a look at ways — with oils, activities, and nutrition— that we can keep our cups full to overflowing.

 
Wholistic Self Care for Introverts with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story | Use Essential oils, intentional rest and activity, and healthy eating habits to refresh yourself
 

Oils

Essential Oils are one of my favorite self-support tools because they are portable and nearly immediate in their effect. Day in and day out I use oils to maintain my physical and emotional energy, and I use them extra when I’ve pushed too hard, and need a “reboot” from burnout. Here are a few of my favorites:

PastTense Blend Roller (topical): I hold tension in my neck and shoulders— anticipation, overwhelm, anxious feelings— all the tension just heads straight to my shoulders and scrunches them up to my ears. It hurts, and it’s exhausting. My go-to oil to encourage myself to chill out is Past Tense. it’s minty and fresh, and it helps me release my shoulders back down and breathe a little deeper. How to use: Swipe down neck and shoulders as needed to encourage a release of tension.

Forgive Blend Roller (topical): You know that sense of relief that comes from a deep breath of nature (like when you first step into the woods for a hike)? That’s what this oil evokes. Forgive blend is woody and citrusy and is the first oil I reach for when I feel overwhelmed. How to use: Swipe on wrists and behind ears and / or over heart as needed to relieve feelings of overwhelm.

Balance Blend (topical and aromatic): Gentle, subtle, and calming, balance makes me feel rooted. It is perfect for when life feels chaotic and too fast paced to promote feelings of centeredness. How to Use: Massage a drop or two into the soles of your feet, then spend a moment breathing a stretching to recenter yourself (Click here to follow along with one of my four minute yoga flows). To diffuse, add two drops of balance plus two drops of lime to a four hour diffuser.

Frankincense (topical and aromatic): Frankincense has one of the highest vibrations of any oil which means it is AMAZING for mood support. It is both calming and lifting, the ultimate centering oil. How to use: swipe a drop (neat or diluted depending on your skin sensitivity) across your forehead and down the back of your neck. Add two drops to the diffuser along with two drops of lemongrass and two drops of wild orange (I call this the “Bad JuJu Blend”) to refresh and uplift your energy during emotionally or relationally overwhelming days.

Lemongrass (topical and aromatic): You’ll likely recognize this aroma as “bug spray” because it is a great oil for keeping away mosquitoes, but my favorite use for it is to promote feelings of regeneration and flow. Whether you’re feeling creatively blocked or relationally drained, lemongrass is releasing and refreshing. How to Use: Roll (diluted) on wrists and behind ears to feel released and refreshed (especially before, during, and after spending time with challenging people or being around people in general when already battling overwhelm. Diffuse as outlined above in the “Bad JuJu Blend.”

Lime (aromatic): I find lime to be the most refreshing of the citrus oils. It is described as moving emotions of faintness or fatigue to feelings of renewal. How to Use: Diffuse two drops with two drops of Balance blend in a four hour diffuser.

Wild Orange (aromatic): Wild Orange is much more of a “boost” to me than lime, so I can’t diffuse it alone when I’m feeling overwhelmed or I get a bit jittery. However, it is the perfect refreshing, sweet note to include in the Bad Juju blend (see above)

 
Wholistic Self Care for Introverts with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story | Use Essential oils, intentional rest and activity, and healthy eating habits to refresh yourself
 

“Introverting”

Have you ever used “introvert” as a verb? It’s one of my favorite ways to distinguish for myself and those around be between “I want to be alone because I need to do stuff” and “I need to be alone to recharge.” When I mentioned this post to a friend today she said, “Please tell me you’re going to talk about something other than giving yourself a facial.” Girl, yes. Now, if facials or manicures or whatever are YOUR JAM, then go for it. But, honestly, that’s not my jam, so here’s some of my favorite ways to recharge my batteries when I feel overwhelmed.

The Elijah Principle: If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, then you might remember in 1 Kings when he is running from Jezebel that he gets so frustrated that he lays down under a bush and prays to die. Instead, God sends an angel with food and water, then allows Elijah to rest, then sends the angel with more. From this, Elijah is strengthened enough to travel in the desert for 40 days. Extrapolating a bit, I call this the Elijah Principle: many troubles are greatly eased by a good meal (or two) and a nap.

Solitude: Sometimes, I just desperately want to do normal activities without other people and with my music/ audiobook/ podcast. On a “productive” day, I might do dishes or laundry. But sometimes I want to go get an iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts or sit by the pool or buy a fresh tube of mascara at Target or browse Pinterest for awhile (you get the idea). Time away from both the presence and expectations/ needs of others is crucial for introverts.

-Exercise: Stress produces a hormone called cortisol. In normal levels, cortisol is very important, but too much causes additional strain on the body. By contrast, exercise produces the “happy hormones” or “feel good hormones” called endorphins. During periods of high stress you don’t have to do your best/ most vigorous workout ever. But taking 30 minutes to do some yoga, walk, jog, swim, boulder, etc will rebalance your body and, as counterintuitive as it might seem, create more and better energy. Plus, if you do this activity outside, you’ll get the added benefits of fresh air and Vitamin D. (Click here to get a quick “move your body” win with one of my four minute yoga flows)

-Creativity: I’m willing to be pretty hard that if you’re reading this, then you’re creative. There’s a good chance you’re a quilter, but you might also be a painter, knitter, gardener, or cook. However you express yourself, do some of that to recharge. And keep in mind the benefits of making a little time to be creative everyday. Seriously, just 15-30 minutes is SO valuable for mental wellness. (check out this cool article about the value of creativity in keeping us well)

 
Wholistic Self Care for Introverts with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story | Use Essential oils, intentional rest and activity, and healthy eating habits to refresh yourself
 

Nutrition/ water

Finally, what we put into our bodies during times of stress or recovery is just as important as what we do with them. If you’re like me, my go-to when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed is to eat ALL THE CARBS PLEASE. But this is seriously bad for my physical and mental state. Carbs give a “quick win” of energy, but they leave the body feeling inflamed and depleted, not nourished. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat carbs, but reach for veggies and hummus or nuts and dark chocolate first when you have anxious munchies.

And above all, DRINK WATER. The average recommendation is to consume half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you have a lot going on, girlfriend, drink more than that. Not your favorite? Put your water in a glass or stainless steel bottle and add a drop of lime or wild orange oil to give it a little boost. It’s the best way to keep tension, inflammation, and stress related head pain at bay.

(One last note— if you’re not yet on doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality Pack, take a look at this post to see what an amazing way it is to support and supplement your body. It’s definitely part of my secret sauce!)

Closing Thoughts

We’ve talked about oils to put on your body, activities, to do with your body, and nutrients to put in your body. Of course an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so as much as possible, using these strategies in small doses daily to keep your cup full is the best way to take care of yourself as an introvert. When life snowballs and you find yourself crying in the kitchen at 9am from the sheer exhaustion of it all, speak gently to yourself the way you would with a friend. Allow yourself to be tired. Clear your schedule. Take a quiet day. ASK FOR HELP if you have kids (this is hard, I know). Fill your cup so it can overflow again.

Learn more about doTERRA Essential Oils with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story-- Click to learn more and get yours!

Three Keys to A Healthier, Happier You

One of the easiest ways to get started with doTERRA Essential Oils is for mood support, especially if you struggle with anxious or sad feelings. In fact, let me share a few of my favorites with you!

(As always, please remember that I am not a doctor, and you should proceed according to your comfort level and common sense and consider consulting your doctor. I am sharing here what I have found to be effective for me)

(This post contains affiliate links)

 
Three Keys to a Healthier, Happier You with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story
 

I remember as an awful, vivid, blur the first couple of months after Ian was born. Every single day was a battle for survival. A battle to get up. To keep the boys alive. To be attentive to their needs. To have a good time. To avoid crying. It was so, so, so hard (and, as an aside, I had an amazing support system through this. My heart especially goes out to y’all who are struggling but feel alone in it, too). This isn’t the only time I’ve struggled with overwhelming and sad feelings to the point of struggling to function, but it was the worst, the longest, and the scariest. (you can read more about those first 6 months here, here, and here. ) I struggled hard for almost two years (in spite of the hopeful note in that third post— things got hard again shortly after). As evidenced by my recent Facebook live video on the topic, I still find it really hard to talk about those 18 months from when I stopped taking medication (a choice I would not change but that is not necessarily the right choice for everyone) until I finally started feeling like myself again. It’s a bit of a blur. Particularly good days and particularly bad days stand out in the timeline, but, mostly, it was a lot of survival mode.

In fact, I think that’s the best way I know to describe struggling with mental health: constant, daily, even hourly survival mode. It’s hard to have fun or grow meaningful relationships because all emotional energy is tied up in just barely functioning. During those months, I had such a short fuse, and I could find myself angry or overwhelmingly sad at the drop of a pin.

If you are experiencing a season or struggle like what I am describing (related to postpartum or not), there’s a few very important things I want you to know: First, you are not alone. About 1 in 8 women will experience depression in her lifetime, and postpartum depression can occur as often as 1 in 5 women (according to mentalhealthamerica.net and the CDC). Between social factors and genetic predispositions, being mentally healthy is hard. Second, please talk to your doctor. I’m going to give you some suggestions below that are based on my experience only. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease (mental or otherwise). I believe with my whole heart that these recommendations will help you and work in complement to any recommendations your doctor makes, but if you are concerned about your mental health, you must, must go see your doctor.

As I referenced above, I worked closely with my healthcare provider for my recovery, especially in the early days when things were scariest. Beyond that, though, I found three keys that made all the difference in the world to my mental health then and now:

Community

While we’re getting better as a society about discussing mental wellness and recognizing its importance, we still have a long way to go. Furthermore, no amount of talk will actually eliminate the isolating feeling that comes from feeling sad or anxious or overwhelmed. Lean in to your community. Even though it can be hard to get out and connect with others, do so in whatever way you can. Find people with whom you can be honest about your journey. Look for circles of friends both in person and online who can support and encourage you and whom you can support and encourage in return. We’re all in this together, and it’s a lot more fun if we cheer for each other along the way.

 
Three Keys to a Healthier, Happier You with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story
 

Physical Wellness

There’s increasing information available about our emotions being tied to physical processes in the body. Therefore, the best defense is a good offense, and taking the time to be as healthy as possible physically will yield rewards mentally as well.

Rest

Like real rest. Not the restless lethargy that often comes with feeling off balance. A few tips for helping with this: First, summon the twenty seconds of insane courage it will take to start a workout, then follow through and do a hard workout (whatever “hard” is for you and your body). For me, that might be an hour or two of Zumba, 4 or 5 miles of running, 8-10 miles of cycling, etc. Push your body to its limit at some point during the day so that you will be properly tired at bedtime. Second: read, knit, sew, or listen to music/ a podcast/ an audio book rather than scrolling your phone or watching TV before bed. Wind yourself down properly. Finally, use doTERRA Essential oils to support healthy sleep by taking Serenity and/ or Copaiba soft gels when you start your wind down routine and diffusing through the night. Night time diffuser favorites for me include Lavender, Balance, Peace, and Frankincense.

Nutrition

Did you know that 90% of your body’s production of feel good hormones is tied to your gut? That’s right— proper nutrition directly affects the chemical processes of mental health. Consuming a diet heavy with produce and light on inflammatory foods like grains and dairy will give the body a variety of important nutrients. In addition, I’ve experienced better moods, better sleep, and better energy since I started taking doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality Supplements, PB Assist (probiotics), and TerraZyme (digestive enzymes). I have a history of gut issues, but providing my body with proper supplementation has made a huge difference. The Lifelong Vitality Pack is doTERRA’s top selling product and is an important foundation to informed self care (read more about it here)

Exercise

I already mentioned exercise up above as a tool for improving sleep, but exercise is also useful because it causes your body to make endorphins— “happy hormones” that come from working out. Exercise also helps your body create energy (hence, don’t do that big workout I talked about above right before bed— you’ll be on a workout high for a few hours afterward!). Getting exercise can be as simple as taking a 30 minute walk around your neighborhood. This simple walk is also a good way to get some sunshine so your body can make Vitamin D, another key to feeling good. Get some sort of exercise and sunshine every day, and challenge yourself to some more intense workouts (as you are able— don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you’re new to exercising) several times each week. After your exercise, use doTERRA DeepBlue rub to help your muscles recover for next time.

Water

So simple, and yet often so elusive. The current recommendation is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Personally, I prefer to drink a bit more than that, but it’s also summer here in Georgia, and I love the heat. Get in the habit of carrying a glass or stainless steel water bottle or tumbler with you at all times, and add a drop or two of doTERRA lemon, lime, or wild orange essential oil for a touch of flavor. Drinking enough water helps keep the gut clean and moving and helps prevent annoying things like head tension.

 
Three Keys to a Healthier, Happier You with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story
 

doTERRA Essential Oils

While I’ve already mentioned essential oils several times above, using doTERRA topically and aromatically has been crucial to my journey, so I wanted to highlight a few favorites. I diffuse more or less around the clock and find it helps me focus, function, and flourish. Oils interact chemically with our bodies, and the effects are amazing (read more about that here)

The Emotional Aromatherapy Kit- This kit contains six essential oil blends and a diffuser. The blends, with names like Peace and Cheer, are easy to use because you simply diffuse the one named for the emotion you’d like to feel more of. These oils also come in a roller kit if you prefer to apply them topically rather than diffuse

Elevation- This “joyful blend” was my go-to, even though I’m not usually a floral person. It contains Ylang Ylang which is a fragrant flower, but it also is wonderful for supporting female emotions and hormones. In the midst of my postpartum journey, I didn’t really know anything about essential oils except that when I diffused this, I was a lot more functional than when I didn’t.

Frankincense- This “king of the oils” is a rich aroma that feels like a warm, steadying hug. I especially love to swipe Frankie across my forehead and down the back of my neck as well as often adding a drop or two to my diffuser. It helps me feel ready for the day and up for any challenge

Take the Next Step to Wellness

If you’re ready to add high quality supplements and CPTG essential oils to your mental wellness routine, I invite you to join my doTERRA team. doTERRA works just like Costco— you pay an annual fee and are able to order your oils and products at or below wholesale prices. Plus, if you join the Loyalty Rewards Program, you can earn points back on your orders that add up to free product! However, if you join doTERRA with an enrollment kit, you can have these amazing membership benefits without paying the joining fee. It’s definitely the way to go!

There are two kits I recommend for focusing on mental wellness. The first is the Emotional Aromatherapy kit which includes 6 oil blends for targeted mood support and a Lumo diffuser. I love these blends and use them daily for maintaining my mental wellness. The other kit is the Healthy Habits kit which includes a month’s supply of Lifelong Vitality Supplements and also PB Assist and TerraZyme, DeepBlue rub, and five versatile oils. This kit is perfect if you’re ready to make powerful lifestyle changes to pursue and maintain a healthy gut, physical exercise, and support your body with powerful essential oils.

Adding consistent, natural support for my body to my routines by taking doTERRA’s supplements and using doTERRA essential oils has had huge benefits for my mental wellness, and I know it will for you too! It’s okay if you feel like you still have a lot to learn about these amazing products— I’m here to help, and I’m excited to continue this journey with you!