Self care for introverts, for the work week ahead

What would you be doing right now if you were free? Would you be slowly rising from a refreshing slumber? Would you take 10 minutes to stretch and gradually awaken the body to the new day? Would you meditate for 10 minutes and then prepare yourself a luxurious breakfast?

What does being jolted awake before you’re body is ready, rushing to get dressed, wolfing down breakfast and battling through a rush hour commute to work with people you dislike all day have anything to do with our natural introversion?

If you’re like me, unable to tolerate such a lifestyle, then I hope you too are plotting your escape from this out-the-box lifestyle set up for us. But until then, here are some self care tips to avoid burnout during the work week…

Sleep

This is really simple. Listen to your body. If an alarm clock woke you this morning, you’re irritable and require coffee to get going then you’re not getting enough sleep.

I would recommend doing away with the alarm clock. So you might be late to work? So what, screw them! If however you like your job then doing so will require discipline, it will mean you need to go to bed early enough so that you rise naturally. It’ll take a few nights of struggling to get to sleep, but trust me, you will feel much better for it once adjusted.

I have a real life alarm clock, a toddler. So I know what between 6-7am I am going to get woken up if I haven’t followed my routine (to wake up before him). I need about 8-9 hours of sleep on average. Everyone differs, so experiment for a week and see how long you truly need. I go to bed at 9 and am normally in the land of nod before 10 which means that most of the time I wake before the little one.

Quality will also effect the how long you need. I’m a very light sleeper, a symptom of my anxious brain. What has been effective for me in getting a better sleep is these silicon ear plugs. The difference is unbelievable: I sleep less and more deeply without being woken up by the sounds of cars or cats fighting.

Don’t use electronics an hour before you go to bed, and that includes the TV. I find reading lulls me off into a deep sleep. The best device to read on is the Kindle Paperwhite; its paper-like screen means there is no glare and you can read in the dark without the light required with a paper book or the bright glare from a tablet.

Speaking of tablets, tablets and phones are a no no in the bedroom, the screens are terrible for stimulating your brain, making it harder to fall to sleep. Plus, there’s always one more tweet to scroll… put it away.

I used to listen to audiobooks to fall asleep, these can work too with Audible’s built in sleeptimer but aren’t practical when you share the bed with someone else. I tried one of those pillows with inbuilt speakers designed just for you, but they are useless; uncomfortable and your partner can still hear Daenerys getting pummelled by Drogo.

The last thing I recommend for a sound nights sleep is this camomile and spiced apple tea. It’s delicious and really helps you relax with the camomile naturally making you drowsy.

Mindfulness

For a long time I felt weird just sitting doing nothing for the sake of it. I’d always have to be doing something or going somewhere. For example, I couldn’t sit in the coffee shop alone enjoying a coffee, I’d feel weird like what am I doing if I’m not meeting someone. I wouldn’t go and sit in the park alone, I’d always be walking, on the go, trying to get somewhere.

While at home, I’d always be watching, listening or reading something. Adverts on the TV? Time for Twitter… Waiting for the kettle to boil? Googling who would win a fight between a lion and a tiger… need a dump? well, I think all my friends status’ that I have ever liked have been liked from the crapper.

Most of us never stop for even 5 minutes a day to just be silent. When I went through a nihilistic depression / existential crisis over the new year in a bid to feel better I gave mindfulness a go and it really has changed my life for the better.

I subscribed the Headspace app for daily guided meditations and the feeling I got from my initial 10 minutes a day I can only describe as a refreshed bliss. I’d come out of them feeling calmer, collected and ready for the day.

I’ve since increased my daily mindfulness to 15 minutes a day and what it has since done for me is help me stay present. It has helped my anxiety by helping me recognise how to not race ahead and worry about things. Instead I have learned how to just be. It’s as simple as following your breathing and being silent, so you don’t have to spend money on it, but I would recommend at least doing some of the free sessions on YouTube to get you started and give you some of the techniques (such as noting) which will help you stay present throughout the day.

My key realisation from mindfulness is that we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are a tool, much like speech and hearing. It’s there for us to use, but our thoughts are not us. So many of us identify with our thoughts, I have done my whole life. It is this realisation that has really awakened me to who I truly am as I get out of the way of my anxious thoughts and allow my inner silence, my intuition, to speak. Our true self lies underneath our thoughts, and this is who you too will find in the silence.

Food

You are what you eat, and when you work 40+ hours a week that can often be cheap convenience food. These foods are laden with unnatural chemicals and things that don’t benefit us. We can never truly feel alive while we consume foods that dull our minds and keep us in a cycle of food addiction.

I tried the 7 day vegan challenge last month and, after initial discomfort, I felt like a brand new person. I felt so fresh and alive. I felt like I had more energy and with that my thoughts improved and I began to feel better about myself.

I think vegans are dangerous, I think when you eat like that and have that much positive energy you can do anything you want in life. And that is just what the system doesn’t want you to do. They want to keep you in a cubicle for 40 hours a week for 40 years paying taxes, keeping your free-time (the fact we have “free-time” means we aren’t free) scarce so that you buy crappy food and entertainment to give yourself the quick fix feeling of temporary joy before you’re packed off back to work before you become too rested and have enough time to question why you are doing what you’re doing.

Be Yourself

Be an introvert, be yourself unashamedly. So many of us introverts try to fit in by doing things against our natural tendencies. We go to lunch with people from work when we’d rather sit in the park listening to music. We make the effort at small talk at work because we feel the need to get on with our colleagues. We hide our weird thoughts and hobbies because everyone else is talking about the same thing and we think they’d never be into what we’re into.

While you’re stuck being anything other than yourself you never truly feel alive, you feel dull. Disobey the social conventions, be you! You’ll feel a whole lot better. The sheep will cock their heads (they don’t like people wandering too far from the herd, it makes them feel uncomfortable and unjustified) and they may even snigger behind your back.

But there will be one other person who sees you and thinks you’re the bravest person in the world, and they might even begin rebelling in their own quiet way too. And in that you will have left your week in a better place than it was at the start.

Practice self care this week, you have a lot to give as an introvert but you can’t give it if you’re burnt out. If you care for yourself first, you can really come into who you are meant to be in a world that isn’t designed for you. One by one, we can slowly begin changing our culture to accommodate introverts.

Soul Searching Sunday

Do you get the Sunday blues about work the next day? If so then subscribe to Soul Searching Sunday and we’ll get through it together 😊

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