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