I’ve never been a gym rat, but I’ve most definitely gone through obsessive phases of circuit training and long distance running when I lived in Los Angeles. Maybe some if it had to do with the fact that everyone around me seemed to be working out and otherwise getting or staying fit. In a city of glamour and perpetual sunny days, how can you NOT want to go play outside and look good while you’re at it?
Although if I’m being totally honest, I never did burpees or 5-mile runs solely to firm up my abs. I mean, that was a plus. But what kept me doing these things was simply that they felt good--not just on a physical level, but on an emotional, spiritual, and energetic level as well.
The circuit training, with its bursts of intense movement and the sweating and grunting involved, was cathartic. The long jogs at the beach, with just me and the ocean breeze, were meditative.
These physical activities weren’t just “exercise”; they were my way of regulating the stress in my mind and the unresolved tension in my body. They were my way of healing from overstimulation and releasing old baggage.
INFJs have a couple personality quirks that can make us gym-averse: we get bored super easily and we’re engaged by meaning, not superficial rewards.
(And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m being purely facetious with the title of this blog post. I personally suck at traditional exercise, but I’d never outright claim that an entire group of people suck at anything!)
Nice abs are great, but those outward rewards won’t keep us interested for long unless there’s a deeper, more meaningful reason for doing what we do. And all the repetitive and uninspired movements that are associated with working out--like bicep curls and sit-ups--can bore us to tears.
This is why I want to encourage you to reframe your physical activities as “movement”, and not just “exercise” or “working out”. “Exercise” and “working out” are culturally laden terms, and they make us think of very specific things, like running on the treadmill or lifting weights at the gym.
“Movement”, on the other hand, is totally neutral. It can be as creative or untraditional as you like. You can imbue “movement” with novelty and meaning, two things that aren’t always present with “working out”.
That being said, let’s talk about a couple strategies to help you brainstorm what kinds of physical activities you want to do going forward.
1. Move to heal.
Whatever you feel and experience through life is stored in the tissues of your body. So what are you healing from? Maybe you’re healing from chronic stress, old stories that make you feel weak, not enough self-expression in your daily life, conflicting expectations from others, or wearing a mask for far too long.
Wearing a mask for far too long. I used yoga to help me heal from this. For four weeks straight, I’d cry every time I folded down into Pigeon Pose. And then I’d laugh uncontrollably every time I expanded into Wild Thing.
When I went through my long-distance running and circuit training phase, I was healing from chronic stress and feelings of inadequacy. These activities made me feel strong.
Your body integrates, regulates, and processes all your emotions and life experiences through your five senses, your vestibular system, proprioception, and nervous system. It’s no wonder that physical and emotional well-being have been tied together in scientific research, over and over again.
Your body knows how it needs to move in order to release the old emotions and stories that are no longer relevant. I’m sure you know this, being the intuitive and sensitive person that you are. Consider this a friendly reminder.
2. Use your daily routine as a guide.
It’s really hard to make any INFJ do something she doesn’t really want to do. Stubbornness or strength? I say both!
So don’t make yourself engage in physical activities that you find neither interesting nor fun!
A good place to start is to notice what you’re already doing on a daily or weekly basis. What do you currently enjoy? What kinds of movement are already built into your routine?
Maybe you love catching up with your coworker during lunch. Going on a lunchtime walk with her would be much easier to integrate into your routine than creating a whole new habit of going on a walk by yourself at 6 in the morning.
If your current routine is not what you’d like, what kinds of physical activities would make it more relaxing, energizing, meaningful, or fun?
I know how much trial and error it can take to find a movement routine that meshes with your interests, lifestyle, and needs. That's why I've created a list of ideas for you to help you get started.
Enter your info below to download "32 Physical Activities for Healing" to help you identify the types of movement your body needs right now.
I’ve designed this one-page idea bank with diverse interests, lifestyles, and sensory needs in mind. Some are high impact, some are low impact, and many are not what you'd consider traditional exercise.
Even if you don’t find an exactly right “fit” with any of the ideas on the list, I hope they’ll at least get your creative juices flowing so you can identify a physical activity to do this week that is novel, meaningful, and most of all, healing.
You and your body are partners in life. Your body cares for you by helping to bring your visions into physical reality. Return the favor by allowing your body to do what it does best: move.