April Snow, MA, AMFT

Hi, I’m April, a psychotherapist who wants to help you heal your past wounds, embrace your true self and begin to thrive again.

Introverts: Conquer Morning Dread and Embrace the Day

Introverts: Conquer Morning Dread and Embrace the Day

Imagine a familiar scene - your alarm goes off, you hit the snooze button repeatedly and stay in bed until the last possible second only to frantically rush through your morning routine in an effort to get to work on time. By the time you leave the house, you are already in stress mode and it is only 9am! Your breath is shallow and adrenaline is pumping, but your mind feels sluggish so you grab a cup of coffee which only amps you up even more. This hectic start to your day leaves you distracted, edgy and exhausted. Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be experiencing “morning dread” - that feeling of getting “stuck” in bed and wanting to hibernate after the alarm goes off. Many Introverts and Highly Sensitive People (HSP) know this feeling all too well. 

There are many contributing factors to the “morning dread” that can span from depression and seasonal mood shifts to lifestyle being misaligned with temperament. In this article, I will be speaking to the latter. Introverts and Highly Sensitive People may be struggling in the morning because of lifestyle routines that others aren’t affected by. Perhaps you are working a schedule that is not the “right fit”, taking on too many responsibilities with loved ones, getting too little rest or just simply struggle with transitions. 

Procrastination in the morning is completely understandable when you have not had enough downtime to rest your body and mentally process the previous day’s events, yet have more demands ahead of you. Sounds exhausting, right? It is, especially for the introspective brain that needs more time to digest all the subtleties it takes in throughout the day. If you are still feeling exhausted and overstimulated from the day before, you are not going to want to get out of bed to be subjected to more stimulation - whether that be social interactions, a noisy commute or the bright light of the sun. 

Let us look at five helpful tips to reduce morning dread and make your routine more manageable.

Pay Off Your Sleep Debt

If you are constantly overworked or deprive yourself of sleep, you start compiling a sleep deficit. Think of it as a negative balance in your bank account that you have to pay back. Sleep deprivation leads to feelings of fatigue, poor concentration and irritability, therefore you may feel tempted to increase your caffeine intake. Unfortunately, caffeine often mimics physiological signs of fight or flight and increases feelings of anxiety. If you have been overscheduled and underslept lately, it is paramount that you make that time up rather than supplementing with caffeine! Schedule a weekend with no activities and give yourself permission to sleep as long as your body needs to.

Allow Time to Transition  

Give yourself more time in bed than you need to accommodate your entire sleep routine from start to finish. Think of your sleep routine as not just the amount of time you are sleeping, but the total time you need to fall asleep at night, get a full night’s rest and transition out of sleep in the morning. Over the next week, start to observe your habits in these three areas: 

  • How much time does it typically take you to wind down and fall asleep? 
  • How much time do you need to sleep to feel fully rested? 
  • How much time do you need to transition out of bed in the morning? 

Now let us do the math: 
Wind Down Time + Adequate Sleep + Morning Transition = Total Time in Bed

You may end up needing ten or more hours in bed, but that is okay. By giving yourself adequate time to fall asleep and transition into your morning routine, you will feel more relaxed, focused and productive throughout the day. 

Make Time for Downtime

Not getting enough downtime and sleep creates a vicious cycle. You struggle to relax at night, stay up way too late and then struggle again to get out of bed because you are tired. I know it can be difficult to take time for downtime and you may be asking me, how will I get anything done if I spend ten hours in bed every night? My answer is you will not get anything done if you are exhausted and overstimulated. Or you will, but it will take you longer and be more frustrating. Introverts and Highly Sensitive People need time and mental energy to process decisions at length which becomes increasingly difficult the more tired, stressed and overwhelmed you may be. When you really look at your to-do list, you would be surprised with the number of items that can be postponed, delegated or deleted. 

Decision-Free Living

HSPs have brains wired to inhibit action until every decision has been thoroughly analyzed. This strategy is helpful when making major life decisions, but can lead to feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed when dealing with the multitudes of little decisions we make throughout the day. Conserve your decision-making energy by streamlining as many areas of your life as possible. Create a weekly routine with set days or times for chores, running errands, etc. Maintaining a regular routine means less energy wasted making choices and more time to enjoy the spontaneous or unexpected parts of your daily life. 

What is Not Working? 

Typically when we are not getting enough downtime and sleep, there is a bigger issue contributing to the inability to take care of ourselves in this basic way. If you find yourself constantly sleep deprived and exhausted, it may be time to ask yourself the hard questions. What is not working? What is preventing me from getting enough sleep? What is creating this resistance to getting out of bed in the morning? It could be as easy as making simple adjustments such as starting work later and outsourcing tasks you dislike to create more space in your schedule. Or there could be a bigger issue at play such as struggling to set boundaries with loved ones or ignoring your own needs. Check in with yourself. 

If you find it increasingly difficult to get out of bed in the morning, something in your lifestyle may be misaligned with your Introverted or Highly Sensitive temperament. Taking a look at your sleep routine, paying off your sleep deficits and incorporating more downtime into your schedule can have a huge impact on how you function throughout the day. For Introverts and Highly Sensitive People, getting enough rest and downtime is not optional, it is essential to being able to embrace the day with enthusiasm versus dread. 

Do you find yourself struggling to make helpful lifestyle changes? Are you still lacking motivation despite having adequate time for sleep? If so, it may be time to reach out for support.

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