There’s a good reason why I haven’t written in a while. I’m a highly sensitive person who needed a break.
Definition of The Highly Sensitive Person:
Dr. Elaine Aron defines the highly sensitive person (HSP) as a person who, compared to the 80% of the population without the trait, processes everything around him/her much more – reflect on it, elaborate on it, make associations. In other words, the 20% highly sensitive persons have a sensitive nervous system that is more aroused to stimuli than that of the 80%.
What it is like being a highly sensitive person:
I sense the world around me strongly. If I’m already stressed or feeling a bit low on energy strong sensory input may start to overwhelm me: Non-stopping loud noises, like people yelling and shouting and rush hour on the tube, blinking very bright lights, in the disco late at night or even day-light when getting out of a tunnel, and strong smells, like food that I don’t want to eat right now, odors from others, drinks, perfumes, garbage. If I have reached my input limit even a person chewing loudly can make me crazy.
I sometimes need breaks from all the input. And not just the superficial ones: I also inhale subtle nuances, subtle or double meanings, conflicts and emotions of people surrounding me. Sometimes this makes me the person wanting to help everybody, sometimes it makes me the diplomat, or the person taking responsibility. I take criticism very seriously and reflect on it for days. It makes me crazy when too many people want something from me at once. I believe that the quality of being highly sensitive makes me a person with great empathy and a convincing story-teller. It is also the reason why I regularly withdraw from the world, even if just for an hour, to calm down, get breaks and recharge my energies.
Do you recognize yourself?
Many creative personalities are highly sensitive persons. It is so important to protect ourselves so that our energies aren’t drained! Notice what overwhelms you and what calms you down – and appreciate your amazing self!
20 ways to protect yourself and keep your energy levels high:
1. Savor your alone-time
A high tempo and a full calendar – for HSPs a recipe to chronic stress. Cherish the calming time alone, build it into your schedule, and do something calming, like reading, baking, bathing, yoga, knitting, painting, puzzling.
2. Slow down
Our surroundings are more hectic than ever before. Whenever you can, walk slowly, with deep breaths, even when catching the bus, or build in room to meditate or do something calming in between appointments.
3. Say no!
You don’t have to do what everybody wants from you. You can never make everybody happy. Choose wisely. Too many people wanting too much from me; there is nothing more exhausting!
4. Negotiate crowds
Find out what works for you when you have to be in crowds of hectic/active/eager people – Negotiate fairly with yourself how much time you have to spend in crowds – and when you go out with friends, there are always corners that are a bit more quite than the rest of the space you’re in. Find the calmest spot and enjoy the evening.
5. Eat real food
Whole grains, proteins, healthy fats: Food that doesn’t mess with your blood sugar and that is rich in nutrients helps you keep calm and savor your energy throughout the day.
6. Drink enough water
So important! Water refuels, rehydrates and refreshes your brain and your cells and it helps you boost your digestion and liver functions, which also gives you more energy.
7. Listen to calming sounds
Listen to either calm music of your favourite genre – and perhaps a new one, I’ve started really appreciating happy soul music – or even listening to calming nature sounds. An easy way to protect your energy during the day or to calm down in the evenings.
8. Spend time in nature
Nurture your plants, sit under a tree, go to the beach, watch waters flow. This may heal, nurture and calm you.
9. Feng shui your home
Feng shui works – especially for HSPs! Surround yourself with calm colors, natural materials, plants and tidy, organized rooms, and your apartment will soothe your soul.
10. Favour Quality time with a few special others
Qualtity time with a few people you cherish instead of an over-active calendar with one appointment after the other often do wonders to HSPs. Savor the long talks and the hugs.
Even a few minutes of meditations in your lunch break may calm you down again and prepare you to face the crazy world again.
12. Sleep enough
The night is the time when your body and energy levels are primarily restored. Your body and your mental health will thank you if you go to bed before midnight and get the sleep you need each night.
13. Avoid or reduce caffeine and refined sugars
Caffeine and refined sugars have an especially strong impact on HSPs. Don’t mistake being overwhelmed for needing more coffee (or chocolate), like I used to! Real foods do the trick in the long run! For me, contrary to what I used to believe, CALMING TEAS, not coffee, get me back on track in the lunch break!
14. Find your purpose and live it
Save most of your energy conducting your purpose – this will give you more energy and make you more satisfied with life – which also makes you more resistant of becoming overwhelmed.
15. Empathy is your super power
Your empathy is not supposed to drain you. It is to be used when necessary and with lots of love. Although we tend to understand many people and see what everybody else “needs” – we don’t ever have to please everybody! Rehearse saying your honest opinions and just be your authentic self – and use your superpower when YOU see it fit. Being your authentic self also means saying no and decide yourself what to do. People will still see you as an understanding person – just also as one who understands her/his own worth and this earns respect.
16. Walk away from energy-draining situations
Remember: You can always walk away. Always. From any situation.
17. Know that Multitasking is out
Multitasking is easily an overload to the senses. For HSPs, completing tiny subgoals and then first move on to the next task feels far more rewarding than doing everything at once. You will even achieve more this way – sequentially instead of simultaneously. Try it out!
18. Be wise with Multimedia
Be aware that multimedia overwhelms us with information. Choose wisely how much input you want – and what kind of input. Do you really need to know what everybody had for breakfast? It’s your choice!
19. Move your pretty behind
Move enough! Doing calming sports, like jogging, biking, swimming, dancing and yoga, or even taking really long walks with the dog – are perfect ways to get rid of the stress hormones that may have built up during the day. The aforesaid sports also help you process all the information you got during the day! Moving enough is a perfect way to protect yourself.
20. Love yourself!
Love yourself the way you are. It is okay to need breaks. You are perfect the way you are. Accept it, love it, treat yourself well. You deserve it!
Notice your pattern. Do something about it.
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Have ideas or thoughts to add to the list? How is it for you being highly sensitive? Please leave a comment!
Lots of love, Agnete