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Have you ever experienced introvert burnout? That moment after a long week with the kids when you fall apart or mindlessly stare at Nextflix or your phone all night? As an introverted mama, I often feel like I need this alone time to recharge, but if I do get time to myself, I’m tempted to waste it on activities that only fill my life with more noise.
Is this time for solitude even necessary, and, if it is, what should I be doing during my breaks?
The Science Behind Introverts and Personal Space
Personality types are a huge fascination in our society. Scientists continue to study the differences between introverts and extroverts and have found genetic and physiological differences between the two. Extraverts have more dopamine receptors in their brains, meaning they need lots of stimulation from this “feel good” chemical to experience happiness. They have to seek out more stimulation, mainly from being around other people, for their brain to “reward” them with feel-good emotions.
Introverts have fewer receptors, which means we are more sensitive to stimulation. It takes less to activate our brain’s reward centers, and we can quickly feel overloaded or burnt out by being around others all day. This stimulation overload is why introverts tend to need alone time to recharge.
Introverted Motherhood and Finding Time to Recharge
I’m a stay at home mom of two little boys. My extroverted husband works full-time, goes to school part-time, is a deacon, and is a Sunday school leader. Being an introvert with a desire for personal space, this stage of life can feel overwhelming to me at times.
When I look at the world’s advice on how to recharge as an introvert, recommendations to frequently leave the house for a few hours don’t seem to fit with my busy lifestyle. Yet, the Scriptures include commands to pray in secret and examples of Jesus physically withdrawing to be alone with God.
“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Luke 5:16 (ESV)
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6 (ESV)
How can I do this as a busy mom? I’ve enjoyed the quiet moments of nursing my baby at night, spending that time meditating on verses I read during the day, praying for others, or praising God for the gift of motherhood.
Susanna Spurgeon found time to recharge and “shut the door” to pray even while mothering 19 children.
“Among the noise and activity of her many children, Susanna’s trick was to pull her apron over her head – signaling to them and anyone else around that she was in prayer and not to be disturbed. In an age where moms consistently lament about not being able to go to the bathroom alone, Susanna found a way to have time alone by disappearing under a piece of fabric. Like a giant, “Do Not Disturb” sign, her children knew momma was to be left alone as she brought her prayers and requests to God in the middle of the noise and bustle a full household brings.” Susanna’s Apron: Six Tips for Prayer as a Mom
What the Bible Says about Downtime and Personal Space
I was thinking about and researching this idea of the introvert’s need for alone time when my friend Kira sent this in her weekly newsletter:
“You may have heard Matthew 11:28 quoted as a verse to comfort those who are tired and weary. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” But we must keep reading!
Matthew 11:29-30 says:
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”[emphasis added]
Notice this verse doesn’t say “stop working,” but rather, receive rest from Jesus as we work alongside Him and learn from Him.”
She later continues,
“Of course, physical rest is also good and necessary, but that must be done with Jesus as well.
In Mark 6:31, the disciples had been so busy working that they “did not even have a chance to eat” (apparently working through lunch isn’t a new problem!). So, Jesus says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (NIV)
I love the NIV version of this verse because it’s clear that Jesus isn’t sending the disciplines away to rest, but rather inviting them to rest with Him.”
Jesus is inviting us to rest with Him! Time spent recharging gives temporary effects unless you are finding your rest in Christ.
If you need alone time to recharge, Look to Jesus
Don’t hide away just for the sake of being alone; instead, turn your thoughts, your rapt attention to Christ. Consider His power in you.
Don’t fill the downtime you may have with the additional clutter of Netflix or social media, but fill it with the powerful truths of Christ in His Word and by crying out to Him in prayer.
“Whenever you are going through a trial, hardship, or even day-to-day life, you may find yourself exhausted, lonely, and lacking all patience. These are the times that I let my guard down, giving way to anger and selfishness. When you are just “done,” look to Jesus as an example of what it means to obediently persevere in the faith.” From Look to Jesus: How Christian Moms Can Keep Their Eyes on Christ
When I find myself struggling with this, struggling to keep my focus on Christ, I will go through the 30-Day Look to Jesus Challenge. The daily prompts remind me that I don’t have the squander the downtime I do get and encourages me when my day is too busy for time alone. If you haven’t taken the free challenge yet, you can find the signup here.
Helpful Quotes on Solitude and Why We Need Alone Time to Recharge
- “A mark of those who have experienced the true grace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ is that they take pleasure in being alone with God. Solitude provides the opportunity to meditate on Scripture, to pray, and to enjoy the worship of God in private — experiences enlivened by the Holy Spirit for those who have believed the gospel. Withdrawing from the presence of all but God affords an excellent occasion for focused thinking about gospel truths and realities, to freshly apply the gospel to our souls again, and to reflect on the blessings and hopes that are ours through the gospel.”
- “We were made for rhythms of silence and noise, community and solitude. It is unhealthy to always have people around, as well as to rarely want them. God made us for cycles and seasons, for routines and cadences. From the dawn of time, we have needed our respites. Even the God-man himself was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1), “went out to a desolate place” (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42), and “went up on the mountain by himself to pray . . . alone” (Matthew 14:23).”