If you identify as a Highly Sensitive Person (or HSP), a self-care practice is a must! These 15 self-care tips can help to reduce stimulation, calm your nervous system, and express your creativity.
What is a Highly Sensitive Person?
The phrase “Highly Sensitive Person” was coined by Dr. Elaine Aron.
It can be described as traits that make people more sensitive to stimulation and their environment. They are very empathetic and emotion-focused. They can be deeply creative, intuitive, thoughtful, and caring due to their emotional response.
HSPs can easily be overstimulated by lights, sounds, emotions, and their environment. They may jump or startle easily and have trouble tolerating high stress or pressure.
HSPs also have a very hard time watching scary or violent images and do their best to avoid them.
Common Traits for HSPs
There are many common traits for people that identify as highly sensitive. Here are some positive traits you can celebrate:
- are very creative
- can feel very emotional at times – and this means every emotion, including joy and happiness!
- very thoughtful
- thinks deeply and reflects on things
- incredibly caring
- maybe more introverted
- very in tune with others thoughts and feelings
- deeply appreciate art and music
- feel influenced heavily by your environment
- have a deep imagination
Self-Care If You’re A Highly Sensitive Person
Self-care is necessary for everyone, but it’s even more critical if you identify as highly sensitive! Thankfully there are lots of tried and tested strategies that you can implement immediately.
Benefits of Self-Care If You Are Highly Sensitive
When you consider yourself highly sensitive, noise, lights, and overstimulation can cause stress or anxiety. By tackling these factors you can bring your mind and body back to its preferred relaxed state.
If you tend to feel stress or anxiety during the day, calming tools and exercises can help you to feel more balanced. It can also help to boost your mood.
15 Self-Care Tips For HSPs
1. Turn down the lights.
Light stimulation can be helpful and it can also be a little taxing on your eyes. If you find that bright lights bother you, try using a dimmer switch, eliminating overhead lighting and using lamps with a warmer bulb, using candles or mini string lights, or a Himalayan Salt Lamp.
2. Reduce the sound.
Working or relaxing in a quiet area can make such a difference! I like to listen to calming music or nature sounds to help soothe my nervous system.
3. Wear comfortable clothes.
You may already be doing this, but if not, try wearing soft fabrics that are loose and comfortable, and comfortable shoes. It can make a huge difference in your day. Try it for a week and see how that feels!
4. Use soft bedding.
Soft sheets and blankets can make such a difference in your sleep and relaxation.
5. Get creative.
This is my favorite tip! Highly sensitive people have incredible creative potential. What passion project do you wish you could do more of?
Whether you want to start by taking lessons or courses or are ready to dive right into your creativity – try making it a regular practice.
6. Set boundaries.
Boundaries are one of the best ways to manage stress. Which boundaries make a difference in your life?
Maybe it’s taking some time to think over an invitation before accepting it or maybe you need to limit overstimulating interactions or make time afterward to recharge (hello introverts!)
Think of some boundaries you can make for yourself and implement them!
7. Put your phone on silent.
If you tend to be a jumpy person or startle easily, pay attention to how you react the next time you get a notification on your phone. If you get startled when the phone rings or you get a text, it may be time to put your phone on silent for a little while.
You can test this out for a few hours or a weekend, or even longer if you like it!
8. Practice meditation or relaxation regularly.
This is a must! However, you choose to relax, make it a daily occurrence, and see how you feel after a week. It doesn’t have to be meditation, it can be listening to relaxing music, progressive muscle relaxation, or simply resting your eyes.
9. Spend time in nature.
Going outdoors can help you to feel grounded and relaxed. For me, it washes away the stress from the day pretty quickly!
Even a 15-minute walk in nature does wonders for my mental health. And if I spend the weekend camping, I feel like I come back a completely different person!
10. Have a clean home (or room).
I understand that you can’t control everything, so even having one clean space to relax in can make such a difference!
Try exploring minimalism or pleasantly scented natural cleaners to take this up a notch. I love anything citrus scented or this cleaner from Trader Joe’s that smells like cedar trees.
11. Relax in an Epsom salt bath.
Something about hanging out in the water is so soothing! I like to play a meditation or relaxing music as I sit in the bath or read a book. It’s something that I don’t do a lot, but whenever I do, I feel so relaxed afterward.
12. Try a technology-free, candlelit evening.
Unplugging for one night per week can help to reset your sleep cycle and dramatically reduce stress. Try reading a book, playing board games, putting together a puzzle, or coloring in an adult coloring book.
13. Skip the coffee and drink a soothing tea instead.
I am pretty passionate about quitting coffee if you struggle with anxiety, stress, or hypersensitivity. (And pssst – I don’t think quitting has to mean a 100% coffee-free life!) You can read more about my thoughts and strategies on quitting coffee here.
14. Try Slowed Down Breathing.
There are many breathing techniques that are used for relaxation, but there is only one that I like! Many have you hold your breath and I do not like that feeling. If you are already breathing fast and shallow, it doesn’t feel good. So once I stumbled upon this technique, I began using it to stave off any anxiety or panic.
Begin by breathing in through your nose and exhale slowly through pursed lips, like you are blowing on a dandelion.
Here’s how 60 seconds of slowed down breathing works:
Sit comfortably upright or stand so that you can comfortably take deep belly breaths. The goal is to comfortably and gradually slow down with each exhale.
Begin by breathing in through your nose (letting your stomach expand as you inhale) and then slowly exhale through pursed lips, like you are blowing the seeds off a dandelion. ⠀
- inhale 4 counts, exhale 6 counts
- inhale 4 counts, exhale 7 counts
- inhale 4 counts, exhale 8 count
- inhale 4 counts, exhale 9 counts
- inhale 4 counts, exhale 10 counts
As you do this, visualize any anxious or stressful thoughts blowing away with each exhale.
You can start off slowly and gradually until you feel comfortable. If you feel light-headed, STOP. Everyone has a different pace of breathing and it’s important to honor your body.
15. Get your hands dirty.
Whether you like to garden outdoors or have a few indoor plants, taking care of living things is a great way to connect with nature.
It’s a fun hobby that can even result in some delicious fresh produce!
Take Control of Your Life as an HSP
The most important thing I want you to feel after reading this is empowered. Your sensitivity is a gift – not a curse. You can take control of your life by implementing some of these practices so you can show up as the intuitive, creative, loving person that you are!
More Resources For Highly Sensitive People:
Am I A Highly Sensitive Person? The Test – This is Dr. Elaine Aron’s site and offers an easy-to-take test.
The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You – the original book about HSPs!
The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships – a great read for understanding how to work through relationships as an HSP
The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them – perfect if you think your child may be highly sensitive