HSP Highlights & Insights November 2011
Here are my Top Ten suggestions for HSP Self-Care
My Top Ten HSP Self-Care list is always shared with participants at the HSP Gathering Retreats. I am happy to share it here for those of you who have not been able to join us at a HSP Gathering. Of course, there are many more self-care suggestions, the least of which would include tips about diet, exercise and quality sleep. I’m sure many of you can add to this list, so feel free to share your own suggestions in the comment section below.
1. Search for ways to live a balanced life, including physical, spiritual, occupational, social, emotional, relational, intellectual, and creative. It helps to think of yourself as a “finely tuned instrument” ~ when in tune this instrument can make beautiful music. When out of tune… not so much.
2. Find and practice a creative outlet such as journaling, painting, music, poetry, or photography. This helps to express our deep perceptions of the world around us and is crucial in supporting our unique HSP selves. Unexpressed emotions can create anxiety and tension in our bodies. I think this is where we extraverted HSPs may have an advantage over introverts….it is easier for extraverts to express themselves verbally, so perhaps we hold less tension in our bodies?
3. Examine all your environments. This includes work, home, relationships, family, friends, and geographical location. Become aware of those environments which are supportive of the HSP trait and those that are not. Protect yourself and set firm boundaries. Carefully choose how much personal sharing you engage in with those who are not supportive of the trait, or with those who are not inclined to learn more about it. This is about knowing “When, If and How to Share your HSP trait” something I have spoken about at the HSP Gathering Retreats, and will be offering in a future teleclass.
3. Seek employment which values not only who you are as a person, but your unique set of skills as well. This may mean taking a parttime “craft” job which pays the rent and honors your self-care plan, while also allowing time for your authentic and passionate self outside of work. This may mean adjusting your budget to live on less. HSPs do better when following this concept: BE, Do, Have instead of the societal norm of DO, Have, Be. Sadly, many Americans unconscious lifestyle choices lead them to a live a life of HAVE, DO, Be..thus living beyond their means and creating undue stress. Refer to Dr. Barrie Jaeger’s concepts of drudgery, craft and calling in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person.
4. Take a Values Assessment inventory, such as the Myers Briggs Personality Assessment and/or the Enneagram. Having a strong sense of self helps to ascertain what values are most important to you in your HSP life. Understanding and honoring your own priorities can help make adjustments to your own (or other’s expectations) of you, whether that be in the amount of money you make, or how you spend time in your daily life.
5. Spend time becoming aware of your unique needs – adopt a motto from the HSP Gathering Retreats “Focus on Needs, Not Approval.” Ask your loved ones to do the same. It is an amazingly freeing concept that has worked well in my family. Identifying your needs serves as a guideline for setting healthy boundaries – an absolute must for we HSPs!
6. Seek out like minded friends or community to be with. Isolation, or being invisible, is the bane of an HSP’s existence. Find someone with whom you can share your keen observations and depth of perception with – preferably another HSP. This works well because our depth can sometimes unduly burden our non-HSP friends to “get” us. The many on-line HSP message boards can sometimes serve this need. See Top Ten Reasons to have a HSP Dyad Partnership.
7. Find your optimal level of arousal – being under stimulated leaves us bored and lethargic – being over stimulated is no fun, and increases the cortisol in our systems. Being outdoors in nature seems to be the optimal state of arousal for me – and it is also the place where I can find solace, wisdom and clarity.
8. Become intimately familiar with your current or past traumas – whether they be traumas with a capital “T” or traumas with a smaller ‘t’. Remember for HSPs ~ any trauma can be deeply felt. Seeking professional help may be necessary to assimilate this trauma and to heal fully. I’ve found EMDR an especially helpful and efficient way to heal traumas.
9. Spend as much time as possible in nature…. and try to enjoy at least 10 minutes of this time in the sunshine. This not only increases natural Vitamin D in our systems, but can also help increase our serotonin levels. Doing this in silence only adds to the pleasure.
10. Find, cultivate and nurture your own unique spiritual life and practice. This could include yoga, meditation, prayer, walks in nature, or being part of a local church community your choosing. ( I need to spend at least 2 hours per week in nature – otherwise I start to feel off center. In the summer, I spend days in nature.)
Doing all of the above will eventually lead you on your own unique path of HSP self-care. It may look different for all of us, but self-care is of primary importance in thriving as a HSP.