Blue Zones: The Introvert’s Guide to Wellness in a Social World

Wellness is inseparable from a long life, but is it easily achieved if you are an introvert?

 

When Dan Buettner set out to research the world’s longest living cultures, he quickly realized he and his co-workers would make a much more profound discovery. They began to uncover regions, which they later named Blue Zones. These geographic and or demographic populations are areas in which the longest living members reach the age 100 ten times more than compared to the population in the US. Each Blue Zone contained several common lifestyle characteristics.

  • Constant moderate exercise as an inseparable part of life

  • Less smoking

  • Semi-vegetarianism

  • Legumes consumed as a dietary staple

  • The value of family above all else

  • Social engagement in an integrated community

Many of the qualities that make up Blue Zones and therefore, very healthy people, can be achieved individually. This is comforting to introverts like myself. It is nice to know that personal wellness and health is partially achieved through enjoyable and daily exercise and conscientious dietary choices. However, social engagement in the community plays an integral role in these blue zones as well. It can be difficult to navigate the social scene and interact with the surrounding community when you value both your wellness, but also your solitary time.

If you are unsure whether you are introverted or extroverted, think about where your energy comes from. Is it from time spent with others or time spent alone? There is nothing wrong with either. Nonetheless, introverts may need some additional planning to ensure they engage socially within their communities as this typically draws energy from an introverted person. Here at Larkspur, Allison and myself both openly identify as introverts. Despite the nature of our work together being possible remotely, we make it a point to schedule two in office sessions a week. This allows us to connect creatively over our work and provides social interaction.

Thankfully, there are many different activities and daily routines that we introverted people can engage in to ensure our wellness but also give us the energy to participate in a lively community.

Schedule Time to Be Unscheduled

This may seem silly, but by doing this you are essentially creating the time in your schedule just for you. Leaving this space unplanned is also a great tactic to keep yourself calm during a busy week and provides a moment of relief. Forget your expectations and go for a walk, watch your favorite show, or take a nap. Regardless of what you are doing, it is a time you can use each week to re-group and recharge.

Meditate

To beginners, meditation can seem intimidating. Believe me, I know. However there is no minimum time needed to meditate. Start with one minute a day if that is what you can do. Find a comfortable and quiet space in your home, pay attention to your posture to keep yourself centered, close your eyes, and let your mind go. I know for me, this was always the most difficult part. How am I supposed to just not think?  Let your mind wander and try to observe your thoughts rather than actively participate. A guided mediation is very helpful for this part. Many beginners do well with loving kindness mediation, as it is one of the simpler practices. If you are looking for a way to get started, Larkspur offers a Meditation eCourse, which you can sign up for here: 7 Day - 15 Minute Meditation Course

Yoga and Exercise

Much like meditation, yoga holds many healing and centering qualities. Yoga replenishes your energy stores and leaves you feeling balanced (no pun intended). It strengthens your body and gives you time to reflect. A great resource to use for yoga, and a favorite of Allison’s—is Gaiamtv.com. They offer many different yoga classes that you can simply do from the comfort of your own space and home. If yoga is something you have tried and can’t seem to follow through on—that is OK! There are many other forms of enjoyable and helpful exercise that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and de-stressed. For instance, try an exercise course. As an introvert this will double as time to meet people and engage in your community. Go for a hike to enjoy solitude in nature, or simply stretch each morning. There are many possibilities.  

Schedule Time to See Friends

I will be the first to admit that as you get older, it seems as though the best plans are cancelled plans. It is difficult to separate the feeling of obligation from longstanding commitments. Despite this, if you arrange time to see your good friends each week, it slowly reminds you just how important human connection and interaction is. This idea, for extroverts may seem ludacris but I have sometimes felt completely content on my own and quickly forgotten how large of a role that friends play in my wellness. Friends are an amazing way to make sure that you are also staying involved in the community. Plan your social time around a local event. Maybe there is live music, or a farmers market going on. By meeting your friends out and about you are ensuring that you also get back out into the community, which if you remember, is a pillar to the Blue Zone inhabitants.

       

As you incorporate some of these practices into your daily life, remember, there is nothing wrong with being introverted. By understanding your nature you also grant yourself the ability to take care of yourself. Set goals, appreciate where you are, and most of all, love yourself along the way.  

By Allison Barnard + Abby Cole

Abby is the Blog Editor for Larkspur Wellness and is a freelance writer living and working in Bend, OR.