9 Ways to THRIVE as a Highly Sensitive Person

Article written by Chelsie Aichelberger, (previously published with Ageless Living Magazine)

Dear followers, I thought that this week I would re-post an article I wrote a few months ago for Ageless Living. Re-reading it  again was a great reminder of how we can maintain a balance and and take care of ourselves as highly sensitive people. Print some of these points out, or write them on a whiteboard or chalkboard you have at home as a daily reminder! (I also like to write words to live by and positive reminders on sticky notes and stick them on my bathroom mirror).

Are you empathetic? Easily overwhelmed? Need time alone? Startle easily? Acutely aware of other’s emotions? Feel a little…different than most people?

That’s OK. These characteristics are often associated with an inherited trait (just like eye color and skin color) called high sensitivity. With this trait, our human nervous system responds slightly more intensely to our everyday experiences.

Highly sensitive people, also known as “HSPs” are usually very creative beings who enjoy the outdoors, and find peace and clarity when near water and in nature. They are often light sleepers, excellent listeners and good friends, but they are also prone to anxiety, fears, and frequently undervalue themselves.

Does this sound like you? Or maybe someone you know? If you’re not sure, take the HSP self-test here, or send it to a friend.

Elaine Aron, a research psychologist and author of the book The Highly Sensitive Person, coined the term “HSP.” She has shed an immense amount of light on this topic and has helped many others, including myself, learn about the trait of high sensitivity in humans.

The term “sensitive” is often associated with words such as “weak,” “touchy,” or “difficult.” We need to change this negative connotation in society because HSPs bring such positive characteristics to the world. They are passionate teachers, great leaders, and often pursue careers that help make the world a better place such as social work, life coaching, etc. In order to function as their best selves, it is imperative that HSPs take care of themselves so they can maintain a calm, healthy, optimal state of being.

Nine activities that will help HSPs to thrive:

  • Make time for downtime. During particularly busy days or weeks it is crucial that HSPs take time to unwind in a quiet space so they can consciously (and subconsciously) process the information and different energies they’ve absorbed throughout the day.
  • Get enough sleep. Whether  7 or 12 hours a day, it’s important that highly sensitive people listen to their body and get the amount of sleep that is right for them. Sometimes they may find themselves wanting to sleep and rest for an entire weekend! That’s totally ok – it’s their body taking the time it needs to re-charge.
  • Intuition check-in. HSPs have the ability to be very intuitive and connected with their inner selves. This is such a useful and important gift to have; whether considering a new job opportunity or deciding whether or not to go out or stay in on a Friday night, they should always listen to what their intuition is telling them.
  • Meditation is good for everyone, but it can have an especially positive effect on highly sensitive’s. When overwhelmed, meditation can be an excellent way for HSPs to calm their minds and nervous systems. Because HSPs are so intuitive, they are likely to cultivate a very soothing inner peace and connection with themselves through meditative practice.
  • Take intermittent breaks. Instead of go-go-going until the ultimate crash, taking intermittent breaks from daily activities is a great way for HSPs to self-regulate. For example, someone who isn’t particularly sensitive to their environment can probably make four errand stops and then go out for lunch in a busy restaurant with a friend. HSPs, on the other hand, might need to take a break in-between stops and drive down to the ocean, or grab a snack and sit on a quiet park bench for 20 minutes so they can re-charge.
  • Spending time in nature is extremely therapeutic for HSPs. Natural elements like plants, trees, water and sunlight have been said to absorb negative energy. Spending time in nature will help HSPs diffuse sensory overload and recharge in a quiet, beautiful place.
  • Pay attention to nutrition and eating habits. HSPs are sensitive to their external environment and to the feelings of others, but they are also sensitive to the foods they eat. In general, food can often affect HSP’s moods and feelings of well-being so it is important for them to pay attention to what may be affecting their bodies both negatively and positively. Sensitive’s may also be more susceptible to food and environmental allergies.
  • Engage your creative being. It’s in them, whether they know it or not. HSPs have the beautiful gift of appreciating art and music in a deep way. Creation, in all of its forms, is a wonderful experience for Sensitive’s. Whether HSPs express their creativity through art, photography, gardening, building, dancing, singling, cooking, organizing, or writing, it is deeply rewarding for them.
  • Write it down. HSPs often experience the overwhelm of picking up on subtleties and energies in their environment, including other’s emotions. They also think deeply about their experiences. As a way of sorting and processing all of this information, journaling can be a great tool for HSPs to use. The process of getting thoughts and feelings out of their minds and bodies onto paper can help calm and actually rid them of any extra baggage they are carrying.

About 20% of the world’s population has the trait of high sensitivity, and the positive characteristics of HSPs definitely outweigh the negatives. If you have discovered the HSP trait in yourself, use this article as a reference point for whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or the need to take care of yourself; and go ahead and be proud of being sensitive – you have so many special gifts that this world needs.

For more articles relative to highly sensitive and empathetic people, visit http://www.thesensitivetrait.com and subscribe to receive new article posts by scrolling down to the bottom and clicking “Follow”.

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie

 

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What if we were raised by our own hearts?

What if we grew up following our own inner compass, with no one and nothing imposing on our path, or steering us away from living as our authentic selves?

What if we were raised with the reassurance that however we felt, no matter what, our feelings were valid?

What if as children, we got to choose what made us the happiest, rather than being influenced to choose what ‘normal’ people choose?

What if when we cried or raged after a long day of noise and overwhelm, that we were comforted and protected instead of being viewed as weak, or punished?

What if we were born into an environment conducive to discovering our highest, truest selves, and what if we were taught that whatever the amount of time we needed to grow and transition was OK?

These are some questions that come to mind when I think about the delicate, beautiful little souls that arrive on this planet with a blank slate every single day. They don’t all get the opportunity to be raised in a way that caters to their authenticity. Society isn’t really set up that way…

I think that in many ways, our authenticity intertwines with our personality and as humans,  part of our personality is predetermined by our genetic makeup.

An example of predetermined/inherited personality is the trait of high sensitivity: approx. 20% of us are born with it (among many other traits, of course). Yes, you read that right; we are born highly sensitive, or not so much – it isn’t something that we choose, or have the power to remove.

Other parts of our personality develop as a product of the people in our lives and our experiences. Our parents, siblings, teachers, and neighbors all play a part in shaping us. So do influential experiences, like that time on the playground when you were deeply embarrassed, or that winning goal you scored in soccer when you were eight.

I truly believe that the personality traits we are born with are there for a reason, with a greater purpose. These innate traits in turn, make up a portion of our authenticity.

Being sensitive allows us to feel and absorb things deeply, to analyze on high levels, and to care a HECK of a lot.

Many great leaders in history were HSPs. They were naturally sensitive to their world; the needs of people, and the planet. Martin Luther King, Jane Goodall, Princess Dianna, and Abraham Lincoln, to name a few, were highly sensitive people.

Unfortunately, some HSPs might have grown up being told to “not be such a softie” or to “grow up” and quit being a cry baby.

These words can be like daggers to a young sensitive child, and their affect may cause our hearts to harden as we grow up. Because of this some HSPs may NEVER cry. They have been conditioned not to. This is an example of how we are often raised to hide or avoid our true authentic selves.

Maybe some of you are angry because of that. And I say, rightfully so!!!

It‘s not fair that our societal norm has been to hide our true feelings, to play “the game” and compete to be the best, hiding any signs of weakness. The kinds of masks we are taught to wear rob the world of our truth, and I think that is sad.

It’s time for a change.

Its 2016!!! We’re smarter than this. 

I am so glad to see that books are being written, and that leaders are coming forth to show that true success and leadership should actually come from authenticity, from the heart. Authors such as Robin Sharma and Danielle LaPorte write on this, as do many others.  I have seen social media communities pop-up to support being authentic, vulnerable, and open as well… even just very recently.

So keep shining – soften up and let your heart and soul pour its grace into this world! That is your truth, and your authenticity is needed. By following your truth you will live your best life, and you will create space for others to do the same.

How in touch are you with your true, authentic self?

Stick with me, we will go far on this journey.

XO Chelsie