Highly sensitive persons (HSPs) make up about 15% to 20% of the population. HSPs have a more finely-tuned nervous system than others—which makes it harder for them to filter out stimuli and easier to get overwhelmed by their environment. In short, HSPs over-feel everything, so self-care is quite important.
HSPs possess high levels of awareness, intuition, empathy and perceptiveness. They get hurt easily, can often read and feel the energy of other people, and are sometimes able to anticipate when something will happen before it does. Emotionally, HSPs are easily overstimulated up to a point where they may experience great pain or great joy. Physically, they need time and space to be by themselves to process the amount of input they absorb, and they may have low tolerance to noise and anything too strong when it comes to sensations. So, how does an HSP manage all of this overwhelm?
Two words: self-care. Consistent, quality self-care is critical for HSPs, and highly sensitive folks tend to have different self-care needs than the rest of the population. Here are 6 self-care rituals to help HSPs feel less stressed and more energized:
When was the last time you walked barefoot on the earth? Grounding or “earthing” is the process of consciously realigning our energy with that of the Earth. Negative ions from the earth’s surface rush into our bodies to discharge the many unpaired positive ions, or free radicals, we’ve picked up in daily life. Some of the techniques that you can do to ground your body are probably already part of your daily life. My favorite grounding practice is just lying in the grass and looking up at the clouds on a sunny afternoon. Other ways to ground yourself include walking barefoot on the ground or at the beach, climbing a tree, or spending time in your garden—connecting with the earth and the plants.
2. Yoga and/or Meditation
Yoga and/or meditation practices work to quiet the mind and help individuals focus on one thing in the moment, which can be an excellent way for HSPs to calm their minds and nervous systems. HSPs tend to feel drained and frazzled frequently from being bombarded with stimuli coming in from all directions day in and day out. When practiced together, yoga and meditation strengthens the mind-body connection, improving overall health and wellbeing. You can meditate without practicing yoga by simply relaxing, clearing your mind and concentrating on controlled breathing.
HSPs tend to be stuck in their heads—overthinking and overanalyzing EVERYTHING. Journaling can be an effective and cathartic way for the HSP to clear his or her mind. Whether you choose to use a digital journaling program, an app for your mobil device (I like ‘Day One’), or decide to just go old school with pen and paper, journaling offers an opportunity to reflect on everything in your world and provides a safe and sacred place to hold your thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment or reactions from others. Not sure what to write about? Try using some of these prompts: When I’m in pain—physical or emotional—the kindest thing I can do for myself is…, Make a list of everything that inspires you — from books to websites to quotes to people to paintings to stores to the stars, If my body could talk, it would say…, What is your secret desire?, Write the words you most need to hear in this moment…
Schedule regular appointments for a body-work of your choosing. It could be massage, acupuncture, reiki, or whatever. The demonstrated and documented benefits of massage therapy are numerous and significant, and one of the best ways an HSP can soothe tension is by receiving a gentle massage. Since some HSPs may not feel comfortable being touched by strangers, they may benefit more from receiving a massage from a partner or close friend. Self-massage is also a tangible way to show your body some love and gratitude for all of the amazing things it does for you every day.
5. Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths are the highly sensitive person’s BFF—a primary recovery tool for a sensitive soul who takes on the energy of others. They have been used for centuries for relaxation and detoxification and offer numerous benefits, including relaxing sore muscles and soothing back pain, replenishing levels of magnesium in the body, curing skin problems, treating colds and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body. My favorite recipe is a lavender detox salt bath: 1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup Baking Soda, and 10 drops of Lavender Essential oils.
6. Alone Time
Highly sensitive people need ample alone time to rejuvenate and feel replenished. HSPs are usually introverts, so that means they derive their energy from within themselves, not from external sources. They tend to avoid big crowds of people because it seems overwhelming and scary to them and will generally gravitate towards quieter activities, such as hiking in nature, drawing, writing, painting, or anything that allows them to express their creativity.
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? What are your preferred self-care rituals?
Click here for more information on Highly Sensitive Person Counseling.