I’m an Introvert (INFJ), and I’m highly sensitive. No surprise, but this adds to the importance of having a strong morning routine, which is not always easy for me. I’ve never really been “a morning person”.
My husband is, in fact, a BIG morning person. Neither one of us gets much sleep, but somehow he manages to always wake up, rarin’ to go, with a big smile on his face, and a big cup of coffee in his hand. I don’t get it. I really don’t even start to feel like myself until I’ve had a shower, but I’ve started putting some effort into changing my morning routine, and it’s really made a huge difference in mood and energy for me.
Some of us already have a positive morning routine in place – the more disciplined of us, anyway. Most of us, however, don’t. This is something that needs to be addressed, especially for intuitive introverts and highly sensitive people.
Typically, we don’t like feeling rushed, enjoy our alone time, and our environments can affect our moods dramatically. A morning routine can help ease us into our day with a fresh outlook, which affects how we think, feel, react, and even our level of production.
In the order I do them, here’s my current morning routine (subject to change).
Morning Routine – Brain first!
90 seconds – 30 minutes; up to you
I wake up quite early, between 5 and 6am, and not because I want to, but because my dog does. I love him, but he’s about as much of an insomniac as I am. Luckily, my husband wakes up with him, while I get the opportunity to continue laying in a cozy bed.
Getting up earlier than needed is actually a benefit for introverts and HSPs, as it allows us to have a more laid back and relaxing morning, giving us extra time to prepare for our day. No rushing.
I make use of this time, laying awake in bed, by doing one of a few meditative-type activities, depending on the amount of time I have in the morning.
- I may choose a 90-second body scan.
- I might close my eyes and take several minutes to focus on the positive people and experiences in my life, holding on to them, visually, for at least a minute. Learned from this book.
- It’s common for me to use the extra time to listen to a brain entrainment track for 15-30 minutes. Up to an hour on the weekends. 🙂
Brain entrainment are music or nature tracks embedded with audio brainwave stimulation. I plug into them through my phone (I keep earbuds on my nightstand). It’s “instant meditation” without having to really meditate. It’s ideal for someone like me who struggles with other types of meditation, or those with an already over-crowded mind.
I can attest to this being a game-changer for me, and I’ve only been using it daily for about a month and a half. I prefer the nature sounds, as they are quite soothing to me. The brainwave stimulation is embedded in a downpour of rain, which I love.
Pregnant women, children, and those with serious mental health issues, brain injuries, or epilepsy should avoid brain wave stimulation and sound therapies.
Tea and Being in the Moment
A few minutes
I’m an avid tea drinker.
I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. Caffeine isn’t good for anxiety or adrenals, both of which I’ve suffered from in the past. I drink Rooibos in the morning, sometimes combined with another herbal tea, or I may have a mild green tea, golden milk, or matcha once in awhile.
Tea is sacred in this household. We have an entire drawer and part of a cupboard dedicated just to tea…tea bags, whole leaf tea, tea tools, and tea powders. We love drinking it daily.
I don’t know why tea feels like such a luxury, but it just seems like something to savor. It forces me to slow down and take a moment.
I consider my tea-drinking time to be a form of focused meditation to get into the moment. I first notice the steam, herbal scent, and then the layered flavors, the warm feeling of the tea as it moves through my body, and the comforting heat emanating from the mug to my fingertips.
It only takes as long as it takes me to drink the tea, but the feeling of this short meditation lingers throughout the day. And, there are always more small moments in the day to practice this mini-meditation of getting into the present.
Just pull yourself out of your thoughts and focus on your senses for a minute or two…or five. This is great way for overthinkers to get focused on something outside of themselves daily.
Infrared Sauna Sessions
For wall units, 12-15 min. / For saunas, start slow, then 20-40 min.
This is a recent addition, and I know not everyone can afford their own infrared sauna, but they are available to use in spas and gyms around the country for a small fee. You can also purchase wall units for much less if you want to use it more frequently, which is what I initially started with.
What does this add to my morning routine?
It adds improved health through deep sweating and infrared heat. It’s hard to argue the benefits of sweating, and although infrared saunas are fairly new to the consumer market, my own experience has been dramatically positive just in the first month.
As an INFJ, I tend to internalize my fears, worries, and anxiety, and it usually goes right to the pit of my stomach, where the stress festers until it causes a physical manifestation of itself in the form of gut issues, imbalances, fatigue, etc.
My husband finally talked me into an infrared sauna to help “lighten the load” of stress and toxins on my body, and although I haven’t retested yet, I know it’s helping. My energy levels are starting to go up, my motivation is returning, and I’m starting to feel better.
So, for me, it’s become part of my morning routine to keep my health in line, and my husband does it with me, which is a great time for us to connect. Win-win!
Music for Your Mind
NO time if you’re listening while performing other tasks.
I am seriously sweaty after the infrared sauna session, so I head straight to the shower, but not without turning up some of my favorite music first.
You can’t deny that music is mood-changing. Introverts have a pretty deep and emotional connection to music. And, how I’m feeling by the time I reach the shower will ultimately decide the genre of music I’ll play, but it usually ends up being happy or uplifting music. Something with a good beat to it.
This will occasionally result in me singing along loudly (which is great for the vagal nerve). If you feel like singing, then your mood is already shifting. Music is so powerful for our emotional state, and it’s why I started including it in my mornings.
I listen to my playlist until I’ve brushed my teeth, done my hair and make-up, and gotten dressed, then I’m ready to head downstairs for a healthy breakfast before I get to work.
PS – Bonus! Finishing your shower with a cold spray at the end may help tone your vagal nerve, reduce pain, and strengthen your immune system and mitochondria.
A Clean, Healthy Breakfast
Time depends on whether you cook or grab something quick!
We’ve all heard it a million times…breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I would agree, but to each his own on what macronutrients to focus on. The different diets these days is a bit over the top, but I totally get it. Do you.
Whatever I eat, I make sure it’s clean and whole food 90% of the time. My sensitivities have dictated my diet for years, refining until it’s just right. HSPs are known for taking what they eat seriously. We are pretty thoughtful when it comes to making positive food choices, whether that includes environmental impact, humane practices, or avoiding toxins.
Lately, I’ve been drawn to oatmeal with coconut milk and some flax and other seeds in it. Sometimes, I lean in the opposite direction and do sautéed veggies with apples and a clean protein, sprinkled with fresh herbs. If I crave something more substantial, I may include a slice of whole grain sourdough. And, probably some avocado (lifetime obsession).
At this point, I’m powered up and ready for my walk!
Nature Walks for Renewal
5-20 minutes, early morning or later in the day
I enjoy getting out in the morning sun, before it gets too warm, but if I wake up to rain (I live near Portland, so rain is always a possibility during non-summer months), I’ll put off my walk until later in the work day to see if it stops.
I normally walk for about 1-2 miles, depending on the amount of time I have, but even a 5 or 10 minute walk has benefits, so do whatever fits into your morning schedule.
Besides the obvious benefits of sunshine and vitamin D, a walk can reenergize you, relax the mind, and get your blood pumping, especially if you pick up the pace.
Plus, who doesn’t enjoy breathing in the fresh air while listening to the birds sing? It’s a nice break from the indoors, especially right now when we’re dealing with Covid-19 on the daily.
I love going for walks! It’s similar to a moving meditation that exercises my body and renews my soul, and I always feel better when I return.
What does your routine look like?
Altogether, my routine can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes, but I like to linger in getting ready, doing chores as I go, so in reality, it takes me a little over an hour, when all is said and done.
Your morning routine doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t even need one, but I’m guessing you’re here because you’re considering one, and I think that’s great! A positive, consistent start to your day is something that will add nothing but benefits to your day.
Keep refining activities until you come up with the right routine for yourself.
I would love to hear what works best for you guys in the morning. What are the non-negotiable things you must do in in your morning routine to start your day off on the right foot, or in the right mood?
And, remember – your morning routine should be unique to you.
I’m not a health, nutrition, fitness, or medical professional. Please research and talk with your physician before making any changes to your lifestyle or health regimen.