Introverts often pose unique needs in managing their mental health and navigating the modern workplace, including managing the multitude of social interactions which exist in most workplaces.
Why is this?
It may be because the majority of those who identify as introverts may also have what’s known as sensory processing sensitivity (not to be confused with sensory processing disorder), which, in essence, is a high or hyper-degree of sensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing than their non-introverted colleagues, and higher than average emotional reactivity.
Not all introverts will possess sensory processing sensitivity, but those that do may struggle in the modern workplace given the inherent amount of external stimuli in those environments.
For example, in a typical workspace, there will be bright lights and sounds, groups if not crowds of people to engage with, more opportunities for external interruptions (colleagues stopping by desks, etc), few or no private rooms in which they can control the environment, etc..
All of this can contribute to stimulating or over-stimulating an introvert.
Some introverts will be aware of this and may feel confident and motivated enough to either speak up with their managers and advocate for things that may help them cope better or simply start building routines and habits into their workday that help them cope with the overstimulation better.
Examples of this may include withdrawing from the office environment by taking a walk at lunchtime, working in a private conference room away from their open concept office area, or maybe it looks like negotiating one or two work from home days.
But not all introverts will be aware that they are sensitive to this level of external stimulation and, moreover, may not feel empowered or confident enough to ask for the workplace tweaks that would support them.
Managers who oversee introverts would be well-advised to take any introverts they have on their teams into consideration and proactively provide these kinds of supports.
Why? Because an introvert who is not over-stimulated and not emotionally dysregulated from the constant stimulus of the workplace will likely have more physical and mental energy to devote to their work.
To read more on introversion and to learn even more tips and suggestions for how to care for yourself as an introvert, check out this extensive blog post.