Self-Care Practices I Have Discovered As A Highly Sensitive Person
Updated: Jul 19, 2022
Authored by Lynn Salmon-Easter 2/03/2021
photo by Sheelah Brennan on Unsplash
As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I experience the world deeply. I am attuned to subtle changes in my environment, other people’s moods and I sense and feel things intensely in the world. The constant barrage of input and information of the modern world can be overstimulating and exhausting for me.
The trait of high sensitivity is found only in 15-20% of the population. Highly sensitive people often feel misunderstood and as if they don’t quite ‘fit in.’ Although being highly sensitive is completely normal—meaning it is not a disorder or a disease—it can leave individuals feeling isolated and different from others.
Are you wondering if you are a highly sensitive person? Take this free quiz developed by Julie Bjelland, Sensitivity Psychotherapist to find out if you have traits of being a highly sensitive person. This quiz confirmed for me that I am highly sensitive and I have never looked back. The more knowledge and information I have gained about what it means to be a highly sensitive person, the more balanced and enjoyable my life has become.
Being highly sensitivity can be our superpower rather than our burden, but we have to discover how to get things turned around. Over the years (through trial and error), I have learned to include small increments of self-care into my daily routine to bring about more balance, calm and harmony to my nervous system, brain and life. When I stray too far from my commitment to self-care, I begin to spiral into a deep and dark place.
Over the years (and with lots of missteps) I have learned that maintenance is far easier than catastrophe clean-up and recovery. Once I have already sunk into a deep and dark place mentally and emotionally, it takes me that much more time, effort, money and commitment to get back to balance once again. Insight has taught me to prioritize a few simple self-care practices, so I can avoid the collision with the dark hole of despair all together.
Here are some self-care practices I have discovered to move me from daily stress, overwhelm and exhaustion into a life of appreciation, mental balance and emotional equilibrium:
‘Hangry’ is a real thing! When my blood sugar is low I become anxious, bad-tempered and irritable as a result of being hungry.
Highly sensitive people are usually more sensitive to changes in their blood sugar levels. Eating small frequent meals throughout the day keeps blood sugar balanced so you can experience even moods. The equation is quite simple: balanced blood sugar equals balanced moods. Eat whole nutrient-dense foods 5-6 times a day to keep your blood sugar and moods balanced and on track.
The formula of foods below meet the biochemical needs of my body each and every time I eat them in combination. It is a formula that works like magic for me to balance my blood sugar and regulate my moods:
Vegetable or fruit (healthy carbohydrate)
If you are interested in learning more about how to keep your own blood sugar and moods balanced, you can enroll in this online class Good Foods Good Moods created by Nutritional Weight & Wellness.
Moderate daily exercise has been one of the most profound commitments I have made to my self-care routine. Studies have shown people who exercise regularly have fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is a result of an increase of serotonin levels—which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite. Exercise also increases levels of endorphins, which function as natural mood lifters.
I like to keep my exercise routine simple and low cost by choosing to walk or bike outdoors. Research has found exercising in nature has added benefits for our mental health. Even 20-30 minutes of exercise outdoors three times a week can elevate your mood.
Sleep is one of the most profound self-care practices I use to keep myself healthy and well as a highly sensitive person. If I do not prioritize my sleep, I pay a price physically, mentally and emotionally. It is not just the amount of sleep that matters (7-9 hours is best for me), but getting into bed each night at a regular time.
If you are looking for more information on how to get more sleep or you would like guidance on starting your own bedtime routine, please read Why Highly Sensitive People May Need More Sleep Than Others.
Meditation is a bit of a buzzword these days, but for me it continues to be a nourishing tool to manage my moods and metabolize my emotions. Each day, I look forward to sinking into silence and listening deeply.
According to leading expert, Elaine Aron, Ph.D. and author of the book The Highly Sensitive Person, highly sensitive people need meditation to reduce and recover from overstimulation. In her article Meditation For Highly Sensitive People, Aron addresses different types and styles of mediation if you are interested in exploring a practice for yourself.
Clean Up Clutter
By nature, I am not a person that puts things away where they belong. I am a ‘pile person’ but I have learned I need my home to be a sanctuary. As a result of this mismatch, I have often lived in my home with feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. The environment in my home serves as a reflection of my internal and emotional state. I feel the most calm and at peace when my living space is clutter free and spacious.
In order to conquer my clutter, I have learned to set a timer each evening for 10-15 minutes and then pick-up and put away as many items as possible during the allotted time. This practice has created a lasting change in the tidiness of my environment. I can finally return home from a day out in the world with a sigh of relief and a sense of relaxation.
Committing to Self-Care Practices Supports Balance + Wellbeing
The self-care practices I have mentioned above help me to foster a balanced life and support my wellbeing. When I follow these practices with regularity, I thrive! I encourage you to make a list of your own self-care practices and begin using them today.
If you don’t know where to begin, start by finding one activity that will bring more calm, balance and joy to your life. Keep your activities simple and use short increments of time for best results. I usually walk for 15-20 minutes a day, engage in 15 minutes of meditation and at the end of the day, I set a timer for 10-15 minutes and pick up as much clutter as I can.
Any self-care routine is easiest to put into practice when it is in alignment with your current needs. Check in with yourself seasonally or quarterly, so you are sure your self-care practices are truly supporting your health and wellbeing.