5 Self-Care Ideas For A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
Growing up, it took me a while to truly embrace my sensitive side. The fact that being sensitive is seen as a negative trait also slowed down the process as well. Being a highly sensitive person or in other words an HSP, I tend to feed off other people’s energy. In return, their mood affects mine. It took me years to finally realise that other people’s emotions are not my responsibility. However, let’s save that for the next article instead. 😉
In this article, I am hoping to shed some light on self-care practices an HSP can start practising. However, please be warned that this is not the glamorous self-care practices you are used to seeing. Some of these practices require hard work and the need to push yourself!
How can you tell if you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP)?
Before we dive into that, how do you know you are a highly sensitive person? Based on these articles written by Travis Bradberry in Forbes.com and DaLorean Marz, an empowerment coach and mentor, some of the similar questions are:
- Are you able to pick up other people’s emotions faster than anyone else?
- Do you get easily overwhelmed when you have to do a lot of things in a short amount of time?
- Do you need more “me-time” after a busy day to regain your energy?
The three questions above are the most common ones. If you want to take a more detailed test on this, I recommend reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron. In the first pages of the book, Dr. Aron has included a more detailed self-test. Do note that these psychological tests are not 100% accurate. However, if the statements resonate with you and you would like to learn how to cope with them, keep reading!
1. Take a step back to digest your thoughts and rest.
The term ‘sleep on it’ exists for a reason. As humans, there will be days where we feel the need to be impulsive and that’s okay. Sometimes, we all need to be a bit impulsive. Otherwise, we will stay in our comfort zone forever!
Yet, there is a time and place for everything. As Billy Williams has said in this article, “Most decisions can wait.” Decide whether the decision or action you need to make can wait. If it can, then sleep on it. When you sleep on it (literally or figuratively), you will give yourself some waiting time to find more clarity. A decision made with a clear and conscious mind is better than one that was made in a rush and filled with even a hint of doubt!
2. Connect with other HSP people.
Being an HSP, it’s most likely that you already have friends that are HSP as well! If not, you might have someone who understands you that you trust you can talk to. Connecting with other HSP will make you feel less lonely. Moreover, talking about what’s bothering you can actually help you better process your thoughts. I can definitely attest to this, as talking to my friend about something that affected me has helped me to work through all the thoughts in my mind to come to a better decision or conclusion.
In chapter five of her book The Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Elaine Aron mentioned how being with other HSP has helped her in social settings. Once she finds others that are similar to her, everyone starts to become more open and comfortable. She wrote, “In a roomful of people, the odds are that there is at least one person with your trait or who is also feeling social discomfort.” This goes to show that you are never alone!
3. Find your transcendent practice.
Transcendent practice (especially meditating) is a concept of rising above oneself. Whether you believe in God or the Universe, having a transcendent practice that you enjoy will help you tremendously as an HSP.
Spending time in prayer and doing meditation are a few of the most common transcendent practices. For example, Transcendent Meditation has been proven to improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure, and more. If transcendent practices or meditation are not for you, you can always choose other methods! Among the most common ones are connecting with nature, slow eating and mind journaling.
The key here is to find a relaxing practice that helps you centre your focus. Choose something that you can do for at least 15 to 20 minutes daily to avoid feeling overburdened by it.
4. Choose your battles wisely.
One mantra that has helped me over the years is this: Will this bother me in five years?
If the answer is no, try your best to let it go. If yes, then let yourself feel your feelings. However, the key is to not linger on it for too long and to focus on coming up with a solution. Not everything deserves your reaction.
Things happen all the time (the good and the bad) and moreover, you can’t control other people’s actions and decisions. So, choose your battles wisely! Investing your feelings in every situation in your life can be extremely exhausting. More often than not, you’ll realise that you might have given a bigger reaction than it actually deserved.
5. Be conscious about your content consumption.
Excessive media consumption can take a huge toll on an HSP. HSPs are more affected by darker content than other people. So, it is wise for you to intentionally choose what you want to let your mind consume. It is also important to pay attention to when you feel you’ve had enough for the day, and it doesn’t hurt to log off from social media when you feel like you need to.
As for me, I find myself getting irritated whenever I spend more than one hour on social media in one sitting. Once I feel myself getting irritated, I know that this is my cue to log off and stop doomscrolling. There’s a reason why social detox retreats are springing up like mushrooms nowadays. Because social media can be quite subtly toxic without us realizing it! So, do yourself a favour and try to put your phone away.
In short, there is nothing wrong with being an HSP. However, this does not mean you can or should get carried away with your feelings! You have to remember that not everyone is an HSP. You can’t expect people to read your mind and sulk when things don’t go your way. What you can do is get in tune with your feelings, decide which situations deserve your attention, and do your best to communicate your needs and feelings clearly.
For further reading, check out this article on why over glorifying self-care can be harmful to us. If you want more tips, here are some simple & low budget self-care ideas you can do in the comfort of your home! For more articles about being a highly sensitive person, we recommend reading this guide to receiving constructive feedback.