Tag Archives: highly sensitive person

A Sensitive Year: Take Care

One of the most important lessons to learn as an HSP is to take care of ourselves.  It is a must, for our physical health and for our mental health.

Today’s world is complicated, messy and wholly unforgiving – which makes living in modern times especially challenging for some of us. Just reading through one’s Facebook feed can produce enough stress to send an HSP into flight or fight mode.  The daily grind of clocking in and clocking out while navigating corporate rules or office gossip means that each night after work we ruminate endlessly and conjure ten different ways to adjust in order to be ready for another day of the same.  When tragedies happen such as a mass shooting, HSP’s can feel the impact physically, and travail for the lost and their families, on top of going about their normal day.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, and make that a constant priority, we risk the probability of becoming depressed or shutting down.  Self-care is imperative for HSP’s.

I’ll share with you a few of my techniques.  Take them or leave them, or maybe you do them all now anyway, perhaps you have one or two to share with me, you’re invited!  However you do it, make it an absolute priority to take good care of your self.

Meditate.   I cannot stress this enough.  It’s the reason this is very first on my personal list of ways to stay healthy.   I’ve been fairly consistent at this for the past four months, and have noticed impressive results even in this short time.  For people who are prone to dissect each thought ten different ways, training the mind is especially important.  I’ve noticed I don’t let myself go down some of those familiar dark rabbit holes any longer.  I’ve begun to recognize quite soon when my mind begins the route and have the ability now to gently pull it back to a resting place in tune with my breath.  During an acute period of stress I experienced during work, my blood pressure was still within normal range – I attribute this to meditation. Even my husband has noticed that I’m able to recover much quicker from moments of anger or overreaction.  At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I do highly recommend the Headspace App.   I previewed three other options before committing to this particular brand and haven’t regretted my decision in any aspect.  In fact it’s one of the best investments I make in myself.  (the app is $12.99 US / mo.).  I appreciated that the ten day free trial got right to meditation and what you get in that trial is exactly what you get in the app.  There are a variety of ‘packs’ to meditate with and they’re broken out into some neat categories: Sports, Health, and  Brave for example, with sub categories that are equally helpful. Mini meditations are available for a quick re-balance and Andy just began a daily meditation that I’ve included in my routine, it’s a great way to unwind from work.  I now meditate twice a day, it’s the most empowering thing I do for myself, my family, and my writing career.

Alone time.  We crave it inherently as HSP’s but sometimes we become wrapped up in life and forget to sequester ourselves for recharging.   This is one area where I believe we need to give ourselves permission to be selfish.  If we don’t remember to consciously take time out, when we can be fully aware that we are resting from yesterday’s schedule and gearing up for tomorrow night’s meeting, then we’ll crash and burn.  At that point we do take the down time but we’re so depleted we rarely get filled completely, increasing the chances of another burnout.

Take baths.  Epsom salt baths to be specific.  The sweat produced from sitting in the hot water is healthy in itself.  It gets some of the toxins out of our system.  The minerals a salt bath aid in keeping inflammation down as well providing other health benefits. HSP’s endure a lot of stress, baths address some of the physical manifestations of stress, with the added bonus of giving us some down time.

Exercise/nature time.  The benefits of exercise are well known and perfect for HSP’s as a means of keeping stress hormones such as cortisol at minimums.   I’m a big believer in touching base with nature as helpful to HSP’s.  It allows us to take a step back and understand we’re only part of a much bigger picture.  Hike, walk, ride, whatever…make sure to include some nature in your self-care routine.

Therapy.  Just do it. There’s a lot to be said for talking with someone who’s entirely objective and has no stake in your social/personal life.  There are tools to be gained from grinding out some of our weaker points and allowing a soft counsel to help us accept them.  There is strength to be gleaned from understanding that most of our inner self is normal.  If therapy isn’t an option due to budgets, then check for a local support group.  It doesn’t have to be forever, but taking a few months to learn to understand how you perceive the HSP trait is advantageous.

Observe.  Watch your habits and see if you can adjust some things to help reduce anxiety and stress.  If I’m engaged in a vigorous Facebook conversation, I’ll sometimes avoid reading someone’s rebuttal right away.  If I’m not in the right frame of mind, their words might bring a reaction that’s more knee jerk than thoughtful, or I’ll take it more personally than intended.  I’ve learned that my day is much smoother when I meditate first thing in the morning instead of later.  I function much better when I have a protein breakfast rather than a carb breakfast.  These are just a few things I’ve learned about myself as I’ve simply watched and observed how certain habits interact with my moods and productivity.  I challenge you to take a neutral, third person view of your behaviors and their relationship to your feelings. You’ll find it’s fun to explore ways to improve your day and quality of life.

Taking care of ourselves as HSP’s is a priority.  However you do it, make sure to do it. We owe it to ourselves, those around us, and the world for which we care.

Yours,

Frankie

NB  Here are Dr. Elaine Aron’s tips on self-care.

 

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A Sensitive Year: The Bravest of Them All

It took me months to admit I might be Sensitive.   I hated the idea since the admission seemed to carry with it a connotation of weakness.  As I’ve learned more about the trait and living the life of an HSP in our hyped up world, I’ve adjusted my thinking.

I suppose it seems weak if a person can’t sit through violent movies.  I suppose it appears to be weakness if a man chooses to go home after work instead of going for a drink with the guys.  I suppose it looks as if a woman is weak if she becomes overwhelmed quickly in a highly stimulating environment.  I’m sure it must suggest weakness if a person is constantly empathizing with others instead of getting on with life.

While all those scenarios are true of HSP’s, it must be remembered that we don’t like or do those things because of a weakness, we behave this way because our wiring. Which means most of what we do requires a level of bravery that others don’t need to employ.

It’s a brave soul that moves beyond the constant fight or flight tension to engage with a stranger and get to know them.  It’s a brave man that speaks out against an observed injustice in the workplace.  It’s a brave woman that disciplines her involuntary empathy to pass up a relationship with a narcissist. It’s a brave person that notices the oddball in the crowd and pulls them in to feel more comfortable.  It’s a brave individual that pushes back the fear and reaches out to help, teach, guide, and care, because we don’t just see the suffering around us, we feel it as equally and as vividly, and we’ll do damn near anything to ease the suffering in this world.

It’s a two sided coin for sure.  HSP’s appear to exist along the sidelines, preferring less exposure since we’re already inherently exposed; yet we often lead the way in situations that necessitate diplomacy, empathy,  and the ability to see details while simultaneously observing the big picture.   The only way we have the ability for doing so is by literally ignoring, or overcoming, or swallowing the energy of every alarm system going off within us.  Such acts require a deep well of bravery that only HSP’s possess.

We are the bravest of them all.

Yours,

Frankie


A Sensitive Year, In a Poem

“It’s Like”

 

It’s like –

Existing as a singular nerve ending

Exposed incessantly

Raw, reactive

Always gauging the atmosphere.

It’s like –

Knowledge of every nuance

Unable to shut out the details

Observance of minutia

With ability to interpret it accurately.

It’s like –

Involuntary empathy

Impervious to selfishness

Emotional insomnia

Absolute incapacity to rest feelings.

It’s like –

A human sea anemone

Waving in peaceful currents

Then retracting, revolted

By any maligned touch.

It’s like –

Walking the thin

Knife’s edge

Dodging incessant flying rubble

Still maintaining balance

It’s like –

Processing

A hundred thoughts

Into a thousand categories

With millions of layers

And, understanding them all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Sensitive Year: Introduction

My arms and hands ached for nearly two weeks after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  They were weak; merely holding my cell phone caused discomfort and texting was severely curtailed.  I needed both hands just to open the door to my Jeep.  I thought I was having some serious carpal tunnel problems and was about to go to the doctor, except the pain finally subsided and I seemed fine again.

The occurrence made sense to me about three months later when I was sitting in my therapist’ office and confessed that maybe, as she suggested, I was sensitive.   It took me months to admit the possibility – the idea seemed a complete antithesis to the other characteristics I knew about myself:  I was outgoing and an extrovert, I was strong and had endured some difficult challenges in my life such as working through the grief of experiencing the full-term stillbirth of my only daughter.  In every job I’ve ever had, I am always driven enough to work my way up to some supervisory position.  I didn’t perceive myself as weak, but considering the idea that I was sensitive certainly seemed like an admission of weakness, yet there I was in the therapist office, checking  the ‘yes’ box in response to most of the questions on the HSP assessment. (The questions themselves seemed a self-description:  Do you prefer to have music off when driving?  Do you stay home after a day’s work rather than go out with the office?  Do you stay away from violence and violent movies?)  The term ‘off the charts’ was applicable to the final outcome of my responses to the questionnaire.

I immediately grabbed hold of anything I could read about the Highly Sensitive Person and was astounded at some of the things I learned:  It’s an actual genetic trait.  HSP’s make up about twenty percent of the population. The trait exists in other animals as well.

I was relieved once I had more information.  It felt as if several questions I had about myself most of my life were answered:  Why am I the only one noticing small details about situations and settings? (I admit I was really sort of judge-y towards others when they didn’t notice the same things I did, I have since adjusted my thinking.)   Why did it seem like I think way more than others do?  Why why why did it seem that sensory overload was always something I had to deal with – did I have adult ADD or something? How can I be outgoing and sociable and still be sensitive? (turns out there’s a small percentage of people that are both extrovert and HSP).

Many aspects of my life seemed to fall into place and the picture I have of myself is much more complete after acknowledging that I was Highly Sensitive.  Now it’s a matter of learning to live with an entirely new perspective.  I understand that the tendency to over-react to negative circumstances is something I can acknowledge as trait-related and not take things as personally or as seriously.  Instead I try to observe it from a neutral point of view, “Oh yeah, that’s the Sensitive part of me, it’s okay.”  I can utilize the hyper-observation of circumstances in order to notice that a certain student is behaving in a subtly different way and be able to offer help.   I understood immediately that the ability to notice details and nuances is absolutely why I can write – only in the deep observation of a thing can we then describe it well.  And a big light went off when I figured out that all that pain and ache in my arms after the election wasn’t mysterious at all, it was a physical reaction to the knowledge that I knew our nation would never be the same, and that there was a collective heartbreak at the reality of a Trump presidency.

It’s a process to figure out ways to work with this new information.  I am especially challenged, and willing to bet that many of you are as well, with the day to day dealings of the current political climate – we sense and  feel the stress of millions of others and it takes great discipline to keep such stress from taking up residence in our soul (here I am eternally grateful to Headspace for guidance in training the mind).

I find some solace in reading about other’s experiences as well, which is why I’ve decided to write about it myself and the way it impacts a person’s life.  You may not be an HSP, but the information is valuable inasmuch as you most likely know someone who is.  If you are an HSP, my hope is that these writings will encourage, enlighten, and offer strength.

Here’s to new information, and the ability to allow it to transform.

Yours,

Frankie

 


My Hero

Emerge from a grave of darkness,

That you thought would never end.

Writhing pain and torment kept you

bound there, and emitted the illusion of

hopelessness and death.

You sought help, and though it was slow to

answer your pleading, it came and confused

your captor.

The assistant was not the ultimate

savior, you see, rather the tools she gave you to

strengthen your own resolve became the

keys to freedom.

You sit in this hell for a while, and sharpen these

devices until they are deathly.

Then, set yourself free.

Self – control, meaningful meditation, deeper

understanding of your own weaknesses,

Allow an escape, once and for all from the

darkness.

Triumphant, born again with fortitude that evaded you before,restingplace

 

You will now walk your path without trepidation.

You have a quiver dressed with arrows to deter future captors,

And a soul covered with armor to protect from further attacks.

You are stronger, more alive, more

determined.

You have become your own hero.