When we hear “self-care”, we often think of spending time alone, enjoying a relaxing spa, or binge-watching our favorite TV series, with a tub of ice cream in hand. Rarely do we think of going out to meet people as self-care, especially if we are introverts who like saving our energies and focusing on our intrapersonal development.
Indeed, for introverts, socializing can be a little draining. While they do not dislike the activity, being surrounded by people who do not match their energies just deplete their social batteries fast, so they’d rather stay in and recharge. However, being by themselves for long periods can also make them lonely. As the social media memes say, introverts like to invite people over, but also wish for them to go home early.
But contrary to popular belief, introverts aren’t necessarily shy or asocial people. Like extroverts, they also value friendships and find other people interesting. The key to powering up their social batteries is just the right niche or community that understands them and makes them feel confident.
That said, if you are an introvert who’s wondering whether putting yourself out there is worth it, here are all the reasons to go out of your shell:
Social Isolation Has Health Risks
There are numerous pieces of evidence that people who experience loneliness over a long period tend to suffer a worsened health later in their life. In a 1979 study, 7,000 respondents reported that people who were disconnected from others have a higher death risk compared to those who maintained intact friendships. The researchers went on to reveal that socially active people tend to live longer even if they have unhealthy habits, such as smoking and skipping exercise.
A more recent study, which was conducted in 2010, supported this data and found that lack of strong friendships heightens the risk of premature death by 50%.
Sure enough, another study showed that women with strong friendships have lower risks for heart disease. Therefore, don’t downplay the longing you’re feeling for your friends. Make time to meet them, and you’ll end the day happier and healthier.
Friendships Can be Virtual
Some people consider themselves the odd one out, so organic social interactions don’t feel right to them most of the time. If you can relate, know that you are not the only one feeling that way. There are many people out there like you, who are also struggling to find the place where they belong.
Luckily, we all live in an era where virtual friendships, a.k.a. online friendships, are made possible. Through exclusive social media groups or online community builders, we can now connect with other people from around the world with the same interests as ours. We can interact through live streaming, sharing photos and videos, starting conversations in forum sites, or private messaging.
Online friendships just be as deep and meaningful as real-life social circles. Behind the screen, people tend to be more confident in sharing their stories, leading them to other people that experience the same things. In addition, online communities are where some people find friendships that are easier to maintain. No need to make commitments to meet up on weekends or so, because you all live miles apart from one another.
Even mental health experts agree that online friendships are significant. Psychologist Leanne Hall states that the element of anonymity we have on the internet can make it easier to share parts of ourselves we might otherwise find difficult in real life. As such, we gain a healthy medium of releasing our emotions, expressing our talents and creativity, and meeting new people from different parts of the world.
Real Friends Make Our Lives Better
If your social circle pushes you to become irresponsible because “You Only Live Once”, they aren’t the friends who will make your life better. On the contrary, they may ruin your future because they’re too focused on fun rather than keeping things in moderation.
On the other hand, if you hang out with people who support your dreams, challenge you to become a better version of yourself, and get you out of your comfort zone for good reasons, you’ll find yourself more inspired and confident.
Find these kinds of influential people by engaging with your co-workers, interacting with your much older or younger peers, and becoming a respectful individual. If you’re still in touch with your old friends who don’t share much in common with you anymore, don’t cut them out. Instead, be an inspiration to them as well, so you can all become successful.
When you sustain your friendships in a way that every person in your circle learns and grows, you’ll discover that interacting with them regularly also boosts your own self-esteem and drive to succeed. Therefore, your brunch sessions or seasonal beach trips will become one of your biggest self-care treats.