wellness & health

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!

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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


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


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!

What are Essential Oils?

There’s no denying that essential oils are quickly becoming “on trend,” but what are they and what’s all the hype about?

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What are Essential Oils? with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

To be perfectly honest, I started dabbling in essential oils before I knew what they were. I knew they came from plants. I figured they were kind of like an extract. And, perhaps most interestingly, I never thought they could interact with my body on a chemical level to help restore balance. I just figured eucalyptus and peppermint made me feel better when I had a runny nose because that’s just kind of how it works. And it really never occurred to me that there are dozens and dozens of plants that yield essential oils. I wasn’t asking the right questions, and I was missing out on all kinds of interesting information.

What are essential oils, and where do they come from?

Essential Oils are natural, volatile, aromatic compounds that occur in plants (leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, bark, etc). They give plants their distinctive scents and play roles in protecting the plant and in plant pollination. If you’ve ever peeled an orange and seen the fine mist that comes out of the peel as you pull it back and smelled that fresh, bright orange aroma, then you’ve experienced essential oils.

“Volatile Aromatic Compound” means that essential oils are made up of chemical constituents that are unique to the plant of origin, and that move quickly from a liquid to a gas in the open air. This is why you can immediately smell essential oils when you open the bottle. They are extremely concentrated, so they have powerful aromas. The plants used to make essential oils are extremely diverse. Ideally, the plants should be sourced from their native habitat for the best chemical make up and effectiveness.

How are Essential Oils Extracted?

There are two primary ways to extract high quality essential oils (like doTERRAs) from the plants— steam distillation and cold pressing. When done properly, the result is a totally pure, therapeutic grade oil. Lower grade essential oils use other methods of extraction that include chemical processes. Chemical extraction makes “more” oil, but it is polluted with solvents and the oils are at best less effective and at worst toxic.

How do Essential Oils Work?

I saw this post on Instagram recently comparing people to houseplants. My first reaction was, “Yep, sounds about right” (especially as someone who craves sunshine and water constantly). My second thought was, “Hey now, that’s oversimplifying the value of humanity a bit.” While this is, of course, an oversimplification in many ways, it is also true and is a great way to understand how essential oils work.

Both plants and humans are carbon based organisms, and essential oils are part of the plant’s immune system. This means that essential oils are molecularly compatible with our bodies. In plainer terms, our bodies recognize essential oils as natural compounds that are “friend” rather than “foe,” so the oils are able to come alongside our immune system and other bodily systems to provide support. Essential oil molecules are also very, very small which means our body can easily absorb them so they work very fast to help us feel our best. So, circling back to the house plant analogy, drinking water, getting some sunlight, and using essential oils is a great way to deal with those “more complicated emotions” and a whole host of other things, too.

Why Quilters Should Care About Wellness & Health

Let’s take a journey to be our strongest, brightest, most healthy selves by not only practicing healthy self-talk when we’re quilting, but by developing a whole host of healthy habits to enable us to live with confidence.

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Why Quilters Should Care About Wellness & Health with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

Physical and mental health are topics I run into around the edges of the quilting world a lot (Instagram stories of food here, ladies out for a run there, a yoga class at QuiltCon, etc), but I haven’t seen anyone talk directly about why wellness should be a key conversation among quilters or make wellness a key conversation. I myself have been dabbling in understanding wellness for a long time, but, while I still have lots to learn, I decided that it’s high time I brought y’all in on the journey.

I’ve been quilting for about 4 years now and doing so professionally for about two. In that time, I’ve made two key observations that inform my firm belief that quilters need to talk more about personal health. This first one is really a shocker, so hold on to your hats:

Quilters are people (mostly women)

With all the curation, editing, and the like on social media, it can be easy to forget that all of us, including those of us who make quilting our job rather than a hobby, are people with a life away from the sewing machine. We have kids, spouses, pets, insecurities, hopes and dreams, etc. This means that we have all the usual worries about wellness that anyone else has:

“I wish I could lose 20 pounds.”

“I hate being sick all the time when it’s cold out.”

“Stupid bum hip (knee, elbow, etc).”

“Oi, I’m sore after all that free motion quilting.”

“I don’t even know how to start eating healthy; much less stick with it.”

“I’m just so stressed out.”

“I haven’t felt the same since baby was born.”

“Is it hot in here??”

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I don’t know about you, but feeling anxious about all this stuff takes away a lot of quilting energy, and then I’m frustrated not only because I don't feel my best but also because I didn’t get any sewing done (or, maybe even worse, tried to sew and couldn’t seem to do anything right).

Many of us turn to quilting to cope

It could be grief, overwhelm, stress, cancer, anxiety, depression, or just about anything else, but most of us consider our sewing to be a haven (why do you think so many quilting groups, including my own, prefer to put the kibosh on topics like politics?). In a wild and uncertain world, quilting is, probably for all of us to varying degrees, very much therapy. But what about when our health concerns or other struggles interfere with our quilting? Or when we just keep feeling hopeless that change is coming but we so.desperately. want to make changes in our health?

If you are a member of the Quilting Rockstars, you’ve had a front row seat to my passion for “doing life together” as quilters. The focus of the group is quilting, certainly, but I count it a blessing when you choose to share other parts of your lives with me too— both griefs and joys— and I love sharing with y’all. I’ve noticed some themes among the Rockstars, and a huge theme is how many of us use quilting to support our mental health.


I’ve talked openly about my journey through postpartum depression after Ian was born here, here, and here. While these posts only talk about the first six months, if you’ve been around lately, then you know it was a dark two years before I felt like I made any progress out of the shadows at all, even though from the outside all seemed well. Healthy habits— fresh air and exercise, community, healthy food, drinking lots of water, creativity, gratitude practice, essential oils, and more— were all crucial to my journey through that time and for the rest of my life. As I’ve talked with more and more quilters who have been effected by depression, anxiety, and a variety of other mental health challenges, I have realized that I cannot ignore these real challenges we face nor can I pretend that quilting can fix it all (quilting is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but there are a lot more pieces to the mental health puzzle). Thus, I’ve added this Live with Confidence blog.

Here you will find a lot about essential oils (a vital component to both physical and mental health in any home) as well as posts about eating well, moving your body, positive self-talk, and more. I’m not a doctor, a therapist, a nutritionist, or a guru, so I’ll simply be sharing from my experiences and inviting you to join me as I seek to and seek to guide you to quilt and LIVE with confidence!