Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) comes with many challenges and can oftentimes be perceived as a burden. But being sensitive is not a flaw. If anything, high sensitivity can be a superpower. That is if we learn to understand ourselves and manage our behavior and emotions appropriately.
Consequently, embracing our sensitivity as a strength and prioritizing self-care can lead to a more fulfilling and balanced life.
Self-care is critical for HSPs, and it is important to identify and put into practice a set of behaviors that can soothe and revitalize your overly-stimulated soul.
Here are 9 self-care habits tailored specifically for the highly sensitive person.
Whether you want to make these steps an integral part of your daily self-care routine or you need an emergency self-care session because you are experiencing emotional and stimulation overload, what follows will soothe you.
1. Retire from the world and spend time alone
The highly sensitive person becomes physically and emotionally overstimulated very easily (source: Psychology Today). So, do not feel pressured to be constantly present and available for others. Carving out alone time is essential for maintaining emotional equilibrium.
One of the first things I do when I feel low-key distressed by everything that’s happening around me (work, other people’s drama, etc.), is to retire from the world and spend time alone.
I don’t even wait to feel distressed to seek solitude now. It’s just something I do regularly.
Remember that solitude is not loneliness; it’s a sanctuary for the highly sensitive soul. Taking regular breaks from social interactions and external stimulation allows HSPs to recharge and reconnect with themselves.
- Warn your loved ones that you are taking a break and turn off your phone.
- Take a long (or short), quiet walk in the park. You don’t have to listen to music or a podcast while you do it. You can put noise-canceling headphones on if you want to, but try to limit the number of things happening. Just. Be.
- Transform your home into a sanctuary and stay in for a couple of days.
2. Clean your environment
Did you know that clutter is LITTERAL noise that negatively impacts your well-being and mental health? Research has shown that a cluttered home is a stressful home (source: The New York Times), and a cluttered environment can overwhelm a sensitive person.
So, if you think you can’t be bothered with chores right now because your mind needs a “break”, think again.
Cleaning up your environment is the very thing that will soothe your highly sensitive senses. That’s why, for me, a clean space is a key element of my most basic self-care needs.
So, make conscious time in your self-care routine to create a tidy and organized space. It will have a calming effect and create a sense of serenity. Set aside time each day to declutter and tidy up your surroundings, whether it’s your home, workspace, or digital space.
Ideally, aim to do that regularly, even before you reach the point of overwhelm and stimulation overload.
3. Do a digital detox
I’m so glad that I finally understood how vital it is, as a highly sensitive person, that I reduce sensory overload, cultivate mindfulness, and take regular breaks from screens (YouTube, movies, social media, phone, etc.).
Although there are numerous advantages to living in a world so technologically advanced, constant exposure to digital devices and social media is draining for everyone, but particularly for HSPs.
So, part of your self-care routine as a highly sensitive person should be focused on disconnecting from technology and increasing real-world experiences.
Sometimes, when we feel overwhelmed, we think that the only way to “solve” it is in our heads, by thinking or analyzing things.
But emotions can be trapped in the body (source: Medical News Today).
Incorporating gentle stretching exercises into your daily routine can help release these emotions and all that pent-up stress while promoting relaxation.
Yoga or tai chi are great for reconnecting the highly sensitive person with their bodies and helping us find peace within. But you can also find relief with just 7 minutes of simple stretching exercises.
5. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment without judgment, and research has shown that it can reduce the body’s response to stress (source: American Psychological Association).
Cultivating mindfulness can be a powerful tool for the highly sensitive person when it comes to managing overwhelming emotions and reducing reactivity.
If you want to cultivate inner calm and resilience, try incorporating mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or body scans into your daily self-care routine.
Writing in my journal has become an essential part of my self-care routine, especially as a highly sensitive person who often (used to) experience(s) intense emotions.
Set aside time each day to write freely, without censorship or judgment, allowing your thoughts and feelings to flow onto the page.
7. Say no and set boundaries
Setting boundaries and learning to say no, is self-care. And it is likely that, as a highly sensitive person, you are prone to absorbing the emotions and energy of others.
To say that this can be draining and overwhelming is an understatement.
Protect your emotional well-being and preserve your energy by setting clear boundaries. Learn to say no without guilt, prioritize your needs, and surround yourself with supportive individuals who understand and respect your boundaries.
8. Do something creative
I always thought I was not creative at all. But once I let go of my preconceived beliefs about myself and explored my creative side, my life transformed.
Creative expression is a powerful outlet for highly sensitive individuals. It allows us to channel our intense emotions and sensory experiences.
Try painting something, even something ugly, doodling on a napkin, writing a haiku, or dancing alone in your living room.
9. Do nothing
Sure, our world glorifies productivity, and taking time for ourselves to recharge and take care of our needs can feel like selfishness bordering on irresponsibility.
But you still have to do it.
Give yourself permission to simply exist in the world without the pressure of constantly having to do something.
Sit on a park bench and stare at the clouds, lounge on your sofa and look out the window, sit still on a yoga mat and listen to the ambient noises of your house for 5 minutes.
Self-care is not selfish and your highly sensitive soul needs to understand that. Your sensitivity becomes a burden only when you neglect your emotional needs.
If you are a highly sensitive person, try to incorporate these self-care habits into your daily routine:
- Retire from the world and spend time alone
- Clean your environment
- Do a digital detox
- Practice mindfulness
- Say no and set boundaries
- Do something creative
- Do nothing
Doing so has helped me cultivate resilience, find balance, and view my sensitivity as a gift rather than a burden.
Hope it does the same for you too.