Your Myers-Briggs personality type can help you figure out what to do in your downtime.
One of the most significant messages of Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, is that introverts live in an overstimulating, overwhelming world and that we need time to ourselves to recharge. This recharging often happens in our heads, but different types of introverts have different needs.
In this article, I’m going to provide some suggestions for downtime activities that each type might enjoy. Some may apply to multiple types, so if you find one that resonates with you, try it out and see if it helps. Whether it’s after work or getting back from a vacation, you need time to rest!
I base my recommendations on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types, and use the corresponding type names from the Myers-Briggs personality types. Hopefully, this can help you recharge as you try to manage life in our extroverted world.
(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)
Downtime Recommendations for Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Type
INTJ: Learn something, whether it’s reading a nonfiction book or watching a documentary
INTJs often have a strong drive to accomplish tasks. As an INTJ myself with a full-time job, family responsibilities, and the random logistics of life filling up my schedule, there seems to be an endless number of tasks I can check off. I do find some satisfaction in getting things done, but this is a red herring for meeting my energy needs.
Instead, I need to make time to learn.
I find myself most energized when I can pick up a book about an interesting time in history, a philosophical idea, or a thoughtful treatment of a complex social problem. Reading allows me to stay in my head and live in the realm of ideas, coming to insights based on what I learn as I make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, whether I’m learning about Plato’s Theory of Forms or social relationships in Japanese culture. (A well-told fictional story works, too.)
It doesn’t just apply to books either. INTJs can recharge by watching TV shows (like documentaries), studying a board game, and having a philosophical discussion with someone who also wants to learn. While learning physical, logistical, or practical skills is not likely as energizing — don’t expect to be enlightened by learning to change a tire, for instance — learning new ideas can be invigorating, and can help you remember why you keep going out into the extroverted world. INTJs ultimately want to learn all that we can.
INFJ: Connect with fictional characters
Like INTJs, INFJs may be excellent students and workers who have a drive to accomplish. While checking off tasks may be a relief, turning inward is much more likely to energize and excite them. But unlike INTJs, who thrive focusing on impersonal concepts, INFJs may be more interested in stories and people.
Connecting with fictional characters can be both comforting and cathartic. While people in our everyday lives are often overwhelming — and while our relationships with them are messy, complicated, and open-ended — people in stories are more manageable. They offer a glimpse into someone’s emotional life who we can empathize with. They don’t expect anything of us. And we know that our engagement with their story will only last as long as we want, so we won’t feel like they need us to help them. Their lives can also help us experience emotions that would be scary to encounter outside the story.
In addition, fictional characters can help INFJs understand more about themselves. After all, they are often drawn to studying psychology and personality, as well as writing fiction themselves, so this interest in stories about people connects to a desire to understand people in general. By taking a break from the external social world, INFJs can energize by reflecting on people in a safe environment: their imagination.
INTP: Solve logic puzzles
INTPs love to take on new challenges with their minds. In particular, I’ve noticed that they enjoy games and puzzles that deal with logic or visual/spatial intelligence. While much of our daily lives involve encounters with people, puzzles are simple and elegant — they require us to move around objects in a certain way or figure out how objects work without needing to factor in people’s complex feelings.
Depending on their interests, different INTPs might enjoy different kinds of challenges. For example, one option would be to play a puzzle video game, like Tetris, Braid, Return of the Obra Dinn, Baba Is You, or the Portal series. Puzzle games often involve many variables and can be enjoyable to figure out because you need to move around different objects in your mind. Another option would be to go to Quora, Reddit, or another discussion forum and find difficult questions that other people are discussing to weigh in on. INTPs’ logical skills may be able to cut through confusion and give a new perspective on an issue.
And, of course, there’s always good old-fashioned 1000-piece puzzles themselves.
INFP: Daydream (without worrying about who’s listening)
For many INFPs, the extroverted world may seem like an endless series of standards they need to meet in school, relationships, and work. What they really want is a place where they can be themselves and not have to worry about being judged or measured. That’s why daydreaming can be such a powerful way to rejuvenate.
Whether it is out in a beautiful natural setting or simply staring at the ceiling while lying in bed, INFPs can find some of their most refreshing moments just gazing out and daydreaming. Here, in their own world, they can reflect on what matters most to them. They can imagine ideal love stories or exciting adventures. They can let their thoughts wander without worrying about who’s listening. Or they can just listen to the wind in the trees and be one with nature for a moment, not having to do anything at all. In particular, being in the natural world allows them to connect with what is most authentic in themselves, away from the artificial needs of the social world, and can be healing to the mind. Practicing meditation or yoga out in nature may also be a great way to recharge.
INFPs can find some of their best ideas, and feel more like themselves, when they are alone with their thoughts. Making this space may be difficult, but they can come back energized with a renewed understanding of what direction they want to take and what life is all about.
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ISTJ: Go through old photos, videos, or journals
ISTJs navigating the extroverted world of work or social life may feel pressured to be in the present and constantly talk about current events or trends. A way that ISTJs can relax and energize is through generating the feeling of nostalgia by going through memories of important events or people in their lives.
Looking through old family photos and videos or documents from our childhoods can be comforting and help us remember what’s most important in life. Studies show that one of the most powerful sources of happiness that anyone can experience comes through the feeling and expression of gratitude. For ISTJs, recalling good memories can be a healing salve for the mind, whether this involves walking through a favorite place from the past, talking to an old friend, or reading a journal entry of an important event, like from a wedding or graduation.
Our memories of the past can help us contextualize our experiences now, and can motivate us to tackle the challenges that come at us.
ISFJ: Watch or read history about people
With so much change and conflict happening in the extroverted world around us, it can be difficult to stay focused and grounded. For ISFJs, reading or watching TV shows can be a respite from the conflict around them, even if the characters involved have conflicts of their own. But rather than wanting to encounter concepts like INTJs or fictional characters like INFJs, ISFJs will often enjoy reading something historical about people from the past.
With their interest in people and feelings as well as history and context, ISFJs can find biographies, documentaries, and narrative histories engaging and compelling. They may have a favorite time period to learn about, such as deepening their understanding of what the world was like during their childhood or learning about the origins of their culture or religion. Perhaps they might even learn about the exploits of their ancestors that shaped their own lives and attitudes today.
In the process, ISFJs can make a little more sense of the constantly changing world of the present by learning about the world of the past.
ISTP: Fix something with your hands
Like INTPs, ISTPs often develop strong visual/spatial intelligence and logic skills. They might be interested in puzzles, too, but likely not the kinds of abstract puzzles or games that INTPs are drawn to. Rather, ISTPs are often more attuned to the physical world and to solving problems and fixing devices with their hands.
Whether the challenge is to tinker with a household appliance or fix a crooked door, their energy comes from solving a novel problem. Each situation that needs to be fixed has numerous variables involved, and visual/spatial intelligence allows them to visualize how the pieces of the object could be arranged differently so they can fit or work properly. And then there’s the satisfaction of taking something that’s broken and seeing it work again — maybe even better than before.
If there’s nothing around to fix, or if an ISTP is just tired and needs to relax, there are always new things to learn. With access to YouTube, learning all sorts of practical skills is just a click away, and who knows, maybe you’ll end up using it later on, ISTP.
ISFP: Play with baby animals
The extroverted world is just too busy and harsh for most of us introverts, and ISFPs are no exception. When life seems filled with conflict, it can be relaxing and beautiful to go to a pet store, animal shelter, or farm and play with some cute animals, especially baby animals.
Both ISFPs and INFPs would likely love this kind of activity. Baby animals are cute and innocent, reacting in funny ways to their environment and often willing to let you hold them. Seeing baby animals like puppies, kittens, chicks, or squirrels can remind us that the world is a wondrous place, and that sometimes all someone needs is another who’s willing to show them affection. Caring for the weak and vulnerable and appreciating the uniqueness of each person and creature is a strong characteristic for ISFPs (and INFPs), so this would appeal to them.
But be careful that you’re not too attached, because you might end up adopting them! Animals can be a source of comfort, to be sure, but if you already have a lot going on in your life — including other pets to take care of — this might end up not being an energy-saving option in the end. It can be fun just to visit animals, however, and say hi.
If you want to learn more about introversion, Jungian types, and how the mind works, subscribe to my podcast, Introvert University, available on Apple, Google, Spotify, and more.
You might like:
- The Vacation You Should Take, Based on Your Introverted Myers-Briggs Type
- Why Do Introverts Love Being Alone? Here’s the Science
- How to Cope When You’re Feeling Overstimulated as an Introverted Parent of Young Kids
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