It’s five in the afternoon, and after a busy day of meetings and appointments, I’m standing in line at a noisy supermarket, picking up some items for dinner. My stomach is rumbling.
A heavily perfumed woman steps in front of me in the lineup and sets her basket down. She just budged in front of me. I’m two seconds away from losing it.
Have you ever been in a situation where you snap? Lose it? Have a meltdown?
If you’re a Highly Sensitive Person, chances are you have. Highly Sensitives experience intense emotions, both positive and negative.
Having a highly-tuned nervous system means a Highly Sensitive Person picks up on a lot more sensory information, much more so than a non-HSP.
A lot of sensory information and little time to process it can lead to a build-up of negative emotions, and a build-up of negative emotions can lead to a meltdown.
While having the HSP Trait isn’t an excuse to continue a behavior that doesn’t help you, it does make sense if you’re learning how to work with your HSP Trait.
Here are eight ways that’ll help you avoid a nasty meltdown.
This method is a last-minute solution, but while you explore and experiment with the other techniques, it can help if you find yourself at that meltdown stage.
First, take a deep breath, and continue breathing deeply. While you’re breathing deeply, stop and identify the following:
- Five things you can feel (e.g., my pants feel soft, thick, warm),
- Four things you can see (e.g., there’s a stale breadcrumb next to my foot),
- Three things you can hear,
- Two things you can smell,
- One thing you can taste.
This method forces you out of your mind and instead shifts your focus to your surroundings, giving you time to decompress and relax.
Once you’re relaxed, you can give your attention back to the situation, knowing you’ll be able to handle it.
Highly Sensitives have intense emotions, an aspect that can be very helpful when channeled positively.
But first, we must acknowledge and accept our emotion(s). Accepting and acknowledging our emotions is important because sometimes we can have confusing feelings (e.g., excited/fearful, sad/content, etc.).
One method you can use is to write down how you feel at the end of each day. Journaling can help you become more aware of your emotions and validates them.
When interpreting your emotions, it’s crucial to know our feelings often run deep and can sometimes contradict each other.
As you gain more acceptance of your emotions, you’ll gain confidence and be able to begin expressing your feelings more healthily.
3. Setting boundaries
Highly Sensitives can become easily overwhelmed when they have not made the necessary adjustments. In other words, they try to live their life like a non-HSP.
Knowing where your HSP Trait lies on the spectrum (high, medium, or low) can help you understand to what degree you have the HSP Trait.
Also, reflecting on your childhood and how you were taught to “be” can mean you have little or a lot of work to do when creating, setting and maintaining your boundaries.
Creating boundaries and saying ‘no’ a lot more will free up time and space in your schedule and allow you to process and manage your emotions.
In other words, saying ‘no’ more means saying ‘yes’ to yourself and your needs.
4. Regular exercise
For the introverted HSP, solo or quieter physical activities like walking, skiing, swimming, etc., are good. In the summer, if you have access to pesticide-free grass, walking barefoot on it is an excellent grounding technique.
Many studies show the benefits of regular exercise. What’s important to note is the HSP Trait is on a spectrum; some have the Trait to a high degree, and some to a low degree; some HSPs are introverts, and some are extroverts.
What is essential is to moderate the intensity and duration of your workouts according to how your HSP Trait works for you.
Experimenting will help you find the type of exercise, duration, and intensity that works best for your body. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep.
5. A meditation practice
It’s essential for a Highly Sensitive to be able to identify when they’re becoming out of sync.
A meditation practice at the start of your day will help you compare how you feel after a meditation versus how you feel in the middle of a hectic day.
That information will alert you to make the necessary adjustments.
A meditation practice also helps to increase the space between the initial emotion and the reaction, allowing your thoughts and feelings to flow, knowing both are temporary.
6. Spending time being creative
A lot of Highly Sensitives experience anxiety. Having a creative outlet allows you to relax and explore your emotions gently.
It will also help you identify when you’re too hard on yourself. Highly Sensitives tend to be too self-critical, and a creative outlet allows you to explore instead of judge.
Exploring a creative outlet is also a fun way to become more curious about your different interests.
7. Adjusting your schedule
Scheduling downtime for yourself, and adjusting your schedule is essential – it allows you to reflect on what is and isn’t working.
Cross out what isn’t gratifying and make more time for what is.
Over time you’ll notice where you may need to adjust your expectations of yourself and/or others.
It will also help you notice and spend less time on draining relationships and more on relationships that give you energy.
8. Spending time in nature
Highly Sensitives gain a great deal from regularly spending time in nature.
Whether it’s noticing the wildlife, the plant life, the weather, or the sky, nature has many calming effects on a highly sensitive nervous system.
It also gives you another way to look at the world differently and use those fine-tuned “noticing” skills for your benefit. You may even receive some inspiration. A creative idea or a solution to a problem will often show up when you’re relaxed.
Many HSPs enjoy photography and taking pictures of their natural environment using their unique perspective.
When you incorporate these eight ways into your lifestyle, you’ll notice an increase in your quality of life.
Our emotions are our teachers. They help us see what needs healing and letting go of and what positive changes we can experiment with to improve our quality of life.
In this way, Highly Sensitives are fortunate to have their “big” emotions.
Have you tried any of these methods?