Self-Care as an INFP Introvert – A look back on an old blog post

It’s funny how the dots join together when looking back on your journal or old blog posts.

Today I was looking through some old posts I wrote (from one of my old blogs), and found one in particular that jumped out at me and made me chuckle to myself in an “aha” moment kind of way.

It was a post talking about protecting your precious energy as an introvert.

As much as I’ve always known I am an introvert, I didn’t know about cognitive functions or personality types specifically.

Reading over the post now I can see how I was starting to understand how I work (how I am wired). Despite not yet knowing the roadmap of my personality type, and I can identify where my different cognitive functions were showing up.

The next little bit is going to get a little Myers-Briggs-y and I’d highly recommend taking a little look at this blog post from Personality Hacker.

Now I know that I’m an INFP, I see that where I reference overwhelm when spending too much time introspecting and in my head, it’s being played out through my inferior function of Extraverted Thinking. It’s howing up immaturly in a frazzled panic of needing to take some action in the outer world (i.e. tidying up).

I can see all that introspection is just my Introverted Feeling, my leading function, my strength.

I can see undertones of my desire to find enjoyment in activities (extraverted intuition).

I can even see I was on the cusp of pushing back on my tertiary function of Introverted Sensing (all about what has come before, traditions, past experience to draw from), by challenging myself to find another way of going about my life, where I honour my need to restore my energy.

I thought I’d share that post here below for you to have a read through. I’d love to know if any of this resonates with you as an introvert.

Here it is:

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Something I have fundamentally known for a long time (but only recently took away the self-judging aspect), is how I am not made for fast pace, go go go, high pressure, fill up your day with one activity after another kind of life.

And I have finally realised that it’s ok.

You see, it’s finding that right balance for you as an individual that is key.
It’s the sweet spot of where you feel productive, of service, useful and fulfilled without compromising your energy, boundaries or personality style.

It’s not how much you are fitting into your day.

My Experience

For me personally, I know I if I am heading towards doing too much activity in my outer world (stimuli, socialising, movement), I begin to feel physically heavy and exhausted.

I could push through (usually if I need to fulfill some mother or wife responsibility I will), but I know I will eventually get exhausted, lose my temper, and have trouble concentrating.

If I ignore my signals to slow down, take a break, then physical symptoms will kick in. Aches, headaches and muscle soreness will all show up for me.

On the flip side, too much “in my head” time can lead to thinking overload. I know I have been in my head too much when I begin to procrastinate, obsess about whatever it is I’m researching, or am overindulging (listening to too much music with my earphones in and block out my real world).

Again, aches and pains will appear because I haven’t been in my body enough to keep it fluid and energy becomes stagnant. I then realise I have so much to catch up on in my home (dinner, baths etc) and feel really stressed and guilty.

A big part of managing my energy is becoming aware of my body and its signals for introspection and rest before I completely flake out, or if I am spending too much time doing introverted style activities and need to come out into the world.

All of us will be different in managing our own uniqueness but the biggest thing to remember is for us to listen to our body, become aware of when we are overindulging in something (for me some indicators of overindulgence are procrastination, perfectionism, obsession).

The other thing is let go of self-judgementor this idea that you are different to society’s ideals of how a perfect personality, figure, whatever should be. We are all unique. No one has walked your exact path. No one ever will.

Your thoughts, decisions, dreams, aspirations, what you like, dislike, your triggers, what stresses you are all unique to you.

So please listen to your signals. Please show self-compassion and self-love, and prioritise your need for self-care (whatever that looks like for you).

Self-Care Is Important

Because different activities and environments affect people differently, there will be some things that energise you that may deplete someone else’s energy, and some things that use your energy, but replenish someone else.

It is so important to recognise what is going to allow you to fill your tank, and what depletes it.

For example, going out for dinner or a picnic with friends could be your way of filling you rtank (an extrovert may find this is the case), and although it sounds fun, this activity would use my energy and I would have to then go away and recharge.

Some activities that recharge my batteries include frequent cup of tea breaks, breaks from having to speak or engage with anyone, solitude, introspection (where I don’t have to think – thinking makes me tired), journaling, meditation, sitting in silence in a clean and tidy house without any pressing responsibilities (my all time fave self-care activity).

If you are an introvert these might seem right up your ally, although flavoured with your own unique details, and an extrovert may find these to be draining for them!

But it’s not just about replenishing energy, it’s about enjoyment too

I think it is also important to note that self-care (although it mostly means to recharging batteries), also (in my opinion) encompasses activities that bring you joy and excitement.

I love to occasionally cook a made up dish, listen to podcasts where I have to concentrate or get my head around complex concepts, and sometimes I love chatting with someone. But I can only do these if I have a full tank of energy.

The activity you choose at any given time will depend on whether or not you have honoured your need for proper replenishment of you physical energy.

If you have, then you may feel that you have a good level of energy and a high vibration. In that case, I feel it is important to do something that makes you feel good.

For me that could mean a fun chat over coffee about a topic that excites me (anything space or about a tv show I love, or soapmaking), or getting outside for a little outing. If I haven’t replenished my energy these activities will be a bit dulled down and I won’t feel as high vibe, and it could even tire me.

It’s not one size fits all even for the same person

Sometimes the activity for self-care may not be the appropriate one for the situation.

I recently experienced this for the first time. The other day I was feeling excitable, my energy was high. I was giving off so much positive energy and vibration.

I was chatting to my Mum at her house after taking the kids to school and she said it was Yoga time. We do yoga everyday and I do like it, but on this day my body was telling me not to do it.

It was feeling too good and I should be using this energy and channelling it into something.

But I went with Yoga and it really brought my energy down. I felt flat afterwards. Happy, but I’d lost that oomph I was feeling.

Usually it’s my body telling me to stop when I am overdoing it, so it was unusual but interesting to see this in a reverse situation.

It’s a balancing act

At the end of the day, your body will tell you when you need to rest, and when you need to harness and use your energy. Tuning into my body isn’t my strong point (as I am more in my head pondering person), but I am learning to this more frequently and I am loving the insights it has to offer me.

I know we all have commitments that cannot be compromised. I have primary school aged children, you will have your own commitments too. But it’s pretty much continue at your own riskwhen you just continue pushing on indefinitely.

You either acknowledge and honour the fact that bodies aren’t meant to be in a fatigued state continuously and rest when you can, or you continue on in the go go go state risking burnout, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, overwhelm.

Have a think about what that means for you, in your life. What are the real risks of not listening to your body’s signs to slow down (or speed up)?

How can you unplug from the outer world and plug into you? I’d also invite you to think about what kinds of activities energise you or deplete your energy, as well as a few enjoyable activities that may use your energy that you can sprinkle through your week when your tank is full.

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