Let me preface this by clarifying– I have nothing against bubble baths. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of them. I love lighting an aromatherapy candle, pouring a capful of detox bubbles under the faucet, and sinking into hot water with a good book in hand. But sometimes, even the bubbliest of baths is not enough to reset yourself during a bout of burnout.
For self-care to be most effective, it’s crucial to understand your own personality and needs. This is where tools like MBTI or StrengthsFinder become incredibly helpful. I use those characteristics as a lens to assess what I really need for my own self-care.
As an INFJ with Strategic, Intellection, Indiviualization, Input, and Learner as my top strengths, this post illustrates what a typical self-care routine looks like for me.
First of all, I find it best to schedule time off for my self-care strategically. It helps me relax if things are planned in advance, and I know I’m taking a day or two off without leaving other people struggling in my absence. Those with a more spontaneous personality type might prefer to go with the flow instead.
Once I’ve carved out time for myself, these are basic questions that I ask in self-prescribing my nourishment:
What does your body need?
This is the first need I address, because it’s very difficult to do anything else without a healthy, energetic body. Depending on my current state, I typically need healthy food (stress causes me to binge eat and make impulsive food choices — usually ordered through a delivery service). If you’re the type of person who is super committed to a diet or rigid food plan, self-care might be splurging on a less nutritious meal instead! Hydration is also one of my top needs. Sometimes I get so busy at work that I forget to drink enough H2O. It causes headaches and general lethargy. I’ll splurge on electrolyte-infused water to help combat this. Another need my body has during times of high-stress is sleep. This means turning off my alarm clock, and sometimes taking a nap later in the day if my body wakes me up too early.
What does your mind need?
Some people need to shut their minds off in zen-like fashion to relax. I’m the complete opposite. With input and learner as my top strengths, my brain needs to be fed. As an INFJ, burnout happens for me when I’m forced to focus too much on details and don’t have time and energy to think about the bigger picture or dream of the future. Excessive social situations and sensory details also exhaust me, so quiet alone time is a MUST in order for me to recharge. Self-care for my mind means reading one of the many educational books I buy (but never have time to finish), watching documentaries, writing, and reflecting (ie: this blog post). It also means having a clean, clutter-free space in which to do all this.
What does your heart need?
This aspect of self-care always seems a bit contradictory for INFJs. We need our space (aka “bubble) away from people to recharge, because we are empaths and easily affected by other people’s emotions. On the other hand, we also crave meaningful conversations and relationships to thrive. I cope with these competing priorities by finding time to reconnect with my friends and family in smaller, more intimate, situations- date night with Holden, lunch and a movie with my mom, puppy snuggles, or an impromptu photoshoot with a friend. Additionally, since many of my friends are bloggers, I enjoy having time to read through their recent posts and leave thoughtful comments.
What does your soul need?
The final question refers to the je ne sais quoi of your needs. That feeling of something being missing, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. For me, the remedy is always found in some form of art. I’ll play the piano and sing different songs until I find the one that brings a tear to my eye. Or take my camera out into the world and keep shooting in search of the capture to speak the 1,000 words I haven’t been able to write.
Since today is my pre-scheduled self-care day, I’m going to sign off now and get back to the aforementioned activities. But, in closing, I’ll say this… self-care is NOT selfish. It is not laziness. It is not indulgent. Self-care is necessary, and you are deserving.