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One thing I’ve mentioned here and there but never dived that deeply into here on TIL is that I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP). HSPs make up about 20% of the population, which is a pretty big number. But you never see much talk about them or ways that they can make life a bit more simple and enjoyable.
HSPs tend to process information more deeply and notice more than people who aren’t highly sensitive. This can be frustrating, confusing, and tiring.
Highly sensitive people have sensory processing sensitivity and are sensitive to many things. Here’s what I struggle with:
- Absorbing other people’s emotions
- Hearing too much noise
- Being around clutter
- Bright lights
- Too much social interaction at once
- Being the center of attention
- Tragedies on the news
A lot of highly sensitive people are just told to “toughen up” or get over it, which isn’t really helpful advice. I think we’re actually pretty tough because we have to go through the world with a constant assault on our senses. We have strengths too! Most HSPs are very compassionate, creative, and able to connect with other people on a deeper level.
We just need more time to recharge and recover from overstimulation. Which is why self-care is so important – specifically self-care to help us calm down when we’re overwhelmed.
So, here are some self-care ideas for my fellow highly sensitive people!
What kind of self-care do HSPs need?
There are generally three types of self-care that I need. This is just my experience, but I feel like most HSPs can relate!
- I need to slow down. // This is a tough thing for me, and something I constantly struggle with. I feel like I always need to be getting something done at all times, or I feel guilty. This has led to burnout multiple times. If this sounds like you, it’s important that you give yourself a break – especially if you’re constantly on-the-go. If we don’t slow down once in a while, we’re bound to become a frazzled mess. So, you need self-care activities that help you relax and re-center yourself.
- I need to recharge. // This kind of goes along with slowing down. Sometimes when an HSP is spreading themselves too thin, they just need something to help them recharge. If you’re the same way, it’s good to find self-care activities that light you up, energize you, and just make you feel happy.
- I need to express myself. // Since HSPs feel things so strongly, sometimes it’s necessary to let those feelings out in a healthy way. Keeping things bottled up is never good and that’s why I love activities that allow me to let it all out and feel more at peace inside. If you can relate, it’s good to find activities that allow you to express yourself.
15 self-care ideas for HSPs:
- Doing yoga // As I said, HSPs are easily overwhelmed sometimes. When I’m overwhelmed, my brain feels like it’s in a fog. Yoga naturally stimulates your body and mind, and it can help you feel refreshed and alert. Plus, it’s good for your physical health, it eases aches and pains, and it can help you sleep better!
- Meditating // When you’re overwhelmed by too much going on, meditation is the best cure. Meditation or other grounding exercises help you feel calmer and reduce anxiety. When you’re an HSP who’s feeling stimulated all day long, it’s the perfect way to relax.
- Spending time in nature // Nature offers HSPs a natural way to connect with our senses and calm our minds. Fresh air, sunlight, rain, beauty – pretty much every part of nature can help ground us and relax us. So take a hike, go exploring, or just sit out in the sun.
- Practicing mindfulness // As an HSP, it can be hard to be mindful of the present moment when your senses are overwhelmed. I know I already talked about meditation, but mindfulness exercises can help SO much when it comes to reducing stress and feeling more content. Here’s a list of 22 mindfulness exercises, if it’s something you want to practice!
- Getting a massage // Feeling stimulated and stressed all day can cause SO much tension in your body. Sometimes I don’t even know how much tension I’m holding until I get a massage and notice how great I feel afterward!
- Setting firm boundaries // Setting boundaries is essential if you’re an HSP. Set boundaries in your relationships, set boundaries in what you’re willing and unwilling to do, and set boundaries for what you’re exposing yourself to. There’s nothing wrong with respecting and protecting yourself!
- Journaling // Journaling is great for our mental and emotional health. If you’re an HSP carrying around negative emotions all the time, journaling can allow you to let them all out in a healthy way. Write out all of your emotions and experiences from the day and you might even gain a new perspective!
- Keeping clutter at bay // Clutter really affects my mind. HSPs can be very sensitive to their environment and if you think that’s true for you, be sure to keep the clutter at bay. Get rid of things you don’t want or need and try to keep things as tidy as you can. It will save you from feeling unnecessary stress. Even better, you can KonMari your whole house!
- Making time for hobbies // Taking the time to enjoy our favorite hobbies allows HSPs to unwind and recharge. Hobbies allow us to have fun, focus on something positive, and create more balance in our lives. Hobbies can also give us more of a sense of purpose in life, which is essential for HSPs.
- Spending time alone // HSPs need alone time or we’ll feel drained. We usually have less stamina than others due to the fact that it’s so easy to be overstimulated. Most HSPs are also introverts, which means we derive energy from ourselves, not from others. Making time for yourself is important for your mental health and even your physical health. Use this time to do whatever helps you feel recharged and happy.
- Making HSP friends // It’s always good to have friends who “get” you. HSPs have unique sensitives and a unique way of viewing the world and having friends who can relate is priceless. When you don’t feel like going out or doing something that you know will drain you, it’s nice to have someone to spend time with who feels the same way.
- Unplugging regularly // I love social media, I love reading news stories, and I love the internet. But sometimes it’s necessary for me to just unplug for a while. A constant bombardment of comparison, negative stories from around the world, and tons of information that you don’t really need can cause so much stress for anyone, let alone HSPs. Try to limit your screen time as much as you need to.
- Pampering yourself // Pampering yourself is about more than just being frivolous and feeling pretty – even though there’s nothing wrong with that. Pampering yourself can help you relax, help you manage stress better, and even improve your immune system and your self-esteem. It’s good for your physical and mental health. So don’t be afraid to make time for facials, hair masks, manicures, and bubble baths!
- Getting creative // Being creative is very therapeutic. Whether you paint, draw, write, sew, make crafts, play an instrument, or whatever else – it can help you express yourself. And don’t say that you’re not creative because I think everyone has creativity inside of them, they just need to find the right way to let it out.
- Listening to your body // Our bodies talk to us all the time and as an HSP, it’s super important that we listen. If you’re feeling an overwhelming amount of anxiety, listen to your body and take a step back from whatever’s bothering you before it gets worse. Listen to what your body and emotions are telling you and give yourself whatever you’re in need of.