The HSP World Podcast Ep. 41: Physical Self-Care Strategies for Highly Sensitives

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Hi, and welcome to The HSP World Podcast, a place and space for Highly Sensitives. 

With each episode, we have a conversation about an interesting HSP-related topic. 

We’re holding space with you because HSPs only make up 15 to 20% of the population. So most of the time HSPs are surrounded by non-HSPs and HSP only convos are a bit different than non-HSP convos. We feel it’s important for HSPs to hear this difference. 

We’re not coaches or therapists. We’re HSPs holding space with you. I’m one of your co-hosts, Rayne, and our other wonderful co-hosts are Tonya and Britta. 

Rayne: Hey, Tonya.

Tonya: Hi, how are you today?

Rayne: I’m pretty good. Thank you. Hey, Britta.

Britta: Hi, there. So nice to be back here with you.

Rayne: Thank you. Okay. And how are you both doing today?

Tonya: Pretty good. Pretty good.

Britta: Yeah, me too. Pretty good. 

Rayne: Okay, cool. Okay, now, we started a mini-series on self care for Highly Sensitives. And it includes six topics on aspects of self care we’d like to explore with you.

We’re on the third topic of self care in our series, and it’s physical self care strategies for highly sensitives. So first, what is physical self care? Some examples are taking a walk  during lunch breaks, sleeping eight hours a day, and staying hydrated. So that’s what it is, and a few examples. 

So Britta, how do you practice physical self-care?

Britta: Well, I have a couple of different things that I do. And it was funny how you mentioned eight, eight hours of sleep, I think I need at least eight hours, the more the better. Sleeping is really a time for me to recover. So yeah, at least eight hours is definitely a must. And if I don’t, if I have a bad night, most of the time it’s not really the day after they get like the hit in the head, but even two days after, I don’t know why that is. So definitely getting enough rest even if necessary during the day. Like if you’re working and you feel like drained. 

I sometimes just take a nap in the afternoon or whenever I feel like okay, I’m staring at a screen here but I’m not really being productive. I’m tired. So it’s just smarter in my opinion to just take a 2020 minute nap or half an hour. It doesn’t have to be too long. But just to get re energized and get a fresh head.

Rayne: I like, I like how you were saying that because sometimes actual sleep for me is awesome. So rejuvenating, but sometimes if I’m dreaming that tire me out so yeah, wake up after an eight hour sleep but I didn’t feel like I was actually sleeping like getting rest so I liked when you were talking about napping because yeah, sometimes it’s, sometimes I need that too.

Britta: Yeah. Yeah, I think I think I hear a lot of people mentioned that like it’s okay to nap and that’s one of the nice things also when when you work from home that there is this freedom to take a nap when you feel you need one you know? So that’s definitely a big one for me. And then also I liked what you said about taking the walk it’s something that I started doing together with my husband couple months ago is making sure that we go for like 45 minute walk every day, even if it’s raining or doesn’t even matter it’s just get get some physical exercise outside and not not like slow walking. We like to walk well at least a good a good keeping a good rhythm and that also helps me to just I don’t know I always have a lot of energy and then it just helps me get rid of the excess of of energy that seems to keep stuck in my body otherwise.

Rayne: Makes sense. Makes sense. How about, how will you Tonya?

Tonya: Yeah, some of the some of the same things for me but like I like getting outside at least once a day is huge for me. But kind of for the opposite reason of you Britta because I tend to have very low energy. And so making sure that I get outside and get some fresh air really kind of boosts my mind and my body. So even if its, you know, just a walk around the block, or even sometimes just I’ll just walk around the yard a few times, you know, on the grass or whatever, just to kind of get some, some fresh air in my lungs. And typically, typically cooler air because you know, I’m in the Pacific Northwest, so a lot of damp gray days. And I think that also contributes a lot of times to kind of my low energy levels, not having the amount of sunshine that I would necessarily like all the time. 

So yeah, so getting outside is important for me. 

Also, the way I start my day. And the way I end my day, I’m finding are extremely important, which is something I didn’t really start thinking about too much before a few years ago. And so even, you know, in the morning, just, you know, even if it’s only two or three, sun salutations in the morning, or, you know, just doing like a quick 15 or 20 minute, kind of like jump around type of movement, you know, like, I have a couple of apps that I like, you know, that give you kind of like quick, no equipment, like cardio things, and I can kind of go at my own pace. 

But also how I end my night as well. So, you know, doing Moon salutations at night, just getting some stretching in. And breath work as well is huge for me, especially when it comes to sleep. I’m finding that it’s making a huge difference in the quality of sleep that I have, right? Because like you were saying Rayne, we can sleep for eight hours, but if the quality of our sleep isn’t that good, right, then, then we feel the effects of it. So and that’s why I love Kundalini Yoga so much is because it’s really changing my life with the breath work and everything. So those are, those are kind of my big, my big go twos that that I try not to miss on a daily basis.

Rayne: Well, that’s okay. So, I when I was thinking about it, I thought, physical self-care so, so one way I practice physical self care is to do mindful movement meditation after I wake up, which sounds really, you know, whatever, but what, it’s a lot of words for basically’s basically stretching like a cat, right? 

So for me, when I wake up in the morning, my joints and muscles may or may not feel stiff, right? But usually, you know, just sort of my upbringing and how it lived my life. I never, I just sort of jumped out of bed and that was that – started the day. That’s, that so I never really, you know, took the time to, to do stretching, right? 

So I find that by taking my time and sometimes that means I have to wake up a bit earlier i I can unhurriedly feel into my body. So what each part of my body feels like. So I’ll notice things like ooh, yeah, that lower back stretch feels really good. Yeah, I’m gonna do it again. You know it needs more stretching out or is that a knot in my right calf? Let me stretch that okay, that out that kind of hurts but it’s feeling better now that I’m stretching it cool. 

So, so I spend the time really kind of moving and stretching my body in a, in a slow mindful way. Which feels exasperating sometimes when I’m excited about stuff I want to do that day. But going slow teaches me there’s always enough hours in the day and it teaches me patience and acceptance with myself. So those are the things that I say to myself when I’m getting like, you know, when I’m when I’m trying when I feel like trying to hurry myself through it. I, you know, I have to check myself and go no, no, no, this isn’t this isn’t just about you know, the stretching of your body. This is also your, your you know, you need to practice patience with yourself and self compassion with yourself. 

So, so it’s, you know, work. I’m a work in progress. So that’s the way it is.

Tonya: Rayne do you feel like it, it really sets the tone for the, for the rest of your day and how you move through the day because that’s how I feel how I kind of the first couple of things that I do in the morning really makes a difference for the rest of the day.

Rayne: Yeah, yeah, it actually, what it does is it it slows me down which is what I what I need to do what I need to do and and So, so, but bringing it back to my body, it teaches me that going slow helps me recognize what each part of my body is feeling. And that’s important to me if I have a not my calf and that stress, and I need to recognize that feeling and what I could be feeling stressed about. So slowly stretching gives me information. 

Not only about my body, but about my emotions as an, you know, as an HSP. I have big emotions, right? And that’s not a bad thing. My emotions are simply trying to help me – give me clues or signs. And then it’s up to me to figure out how to deal with what’s underneath those clues or signs. So starting my day like that, really does help me go about my day, in a way that’s there’s, there’s a rhythm to the day that I have set the rhythm for that day, if that if that’s making any sense at all.

Britta: No, no, it does. Yeah. I was just wondering, also listening to you guys, how I don’t have a specific morning routine. But I wonder how much time do you spend doing it? How long does it take you?

Rayne: Go ahead, Tonya, for me. 

Tonya: Honestly, it depends on the day. So it’s not every day to saying no, no, no, I would say the average is probably about 30 minutes. Okay. Because I do start to get a little bit impatient by getting the day started. But luckily, you know, I am working from home and teaching from home and I don’t have little ones at home, you know, so I don’t have anybody else really, that I’m responsible for typically on a weekday, so I can take that extra time. But you know, sometimes, you know, spending an hour and a half doing yoga and meditating, you know, it’s a wonderful thing. But it’s not typically practical. I don’t think for a lot of people for myself. So yeah, so about 30-45 minutes, probably the most is the average for me, okay.

Rayne: For me, every day I do a meditation, sometimes it’s first thing in the morning. So most of the times, it’s a normal first thing in the morning, but sometimes it’s later on in the evening. But, you know, it can be done at any time. And that, that’ll do for about 20 minutes.

I find the stretching the slowly stretching one, I’ve got a you know, sort of a routine thing I have where it’s 40 minutes long. Now, the funny thing about that is, is it’s gonna sound so bizarre, but when I take the time and I fight the the feeling of ‘you don’t have time for this, you have other stuff you need to be doing’ that, you know, jumped into your day. When I, when I am good at fighting that off and I stay… I really don’t I don’t know what the word would when I stay, sort of when I just stay with it. I find that my, my day goes well, but I also find out that I get different kind of creative ideas or just different ideas, just more things kind of, I don’t know, I had so weird, but it, things just sort of fall into place. 

I think that’s the way that’s the way it feels for me. Now, I won’t do it every day. Some days, I’ll only do half of it. I’ll be like after 15 minutes, we’ll be like, yeah, for today. That’s, that’s good. That’s, that’s what I can do. You know, because between, you know, 20 minutes on a meditation and you know, like 20 minutes stretching out, it’s like, okay, that’s good, you know, but especially if I’m feeling you know, if I’m feeling fairly stiff, or if I do find a knot, you know, in my calf or just sort of if it if I feel like I need to,

you know, yeah, so you adjust to what you feel is nice.

Tonya: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So interesting. I will say that I spend more, I spend more time on my evening practices than I do on my morning practices. So I probably spend a good 45 minutes to an hour, most evenings before I go to bed. So that’s kind of more of my my time, I guess, where I feel more connected to what I’m doing. And plus it really helps my sleep. Yeah. So yeah, so I’d say I’m more Oh I’m I spend more time on my evening than I, than I do on my morning more consistently anyway for the amount of time. 

Rayne: So I’ve got a, I’ve got a question… Do you consider yourself a morning person or an afternoon person or an evening person? Tonya just just out of curiosity?

Tonya: 100% not a morning person. Yeah, not a morning person at all, never really have been. I would say I’m more of an afternoon early evening person. Pretty much anything after nine o’clock. 10 o’clock maximum. I’m, I am done. I am done for the day. 

Rayne: So, how cool. How cool. Is that? Okay. And I’m definitely a morning person.

Tonya: Yeah, and I think that affects probably what the kind of practices or routines or whatever that we’re attracted to for sure.

Rayne: Yeah. That’s pretty cool. Okay, that’s pretty cool. Okay. Staying hydrated is a big one for me. I used to think I was hungry sometimes when actually I was thirsty. I can still struggle with saying no to a piece of chocolate over a drink of water. 

So okay, one thing I do is have regular Epsom salts baths. And I’ll say, Why do this, I do this because it’s hard, I found it hard for me to get enough magnesium in my diet in North, in North America anyways. I just just, it’s just the way the food is. And it’s just, it’s, it’s just, you know, just the way it is. In the old days. I guess before I was born bitters were a staple of most people, which meant dark leafy, green vegetables, right? So like, dandelion salad was, you know, kind of the norm, right? Like do I do eat a lot of dark leafy greens. But another way I get magnesium into my system is by adding Epsom salts to my baths, in Epsom salts is magnesium. Right? And I do this because magnesium is a stress fighter. So it fights off stress. 

So yeah, any any, anything I can do to make things easier on myself. I do right? So. I, I  sure do feel relaxed after a nice hot Epsom salts bath. 

Tonya: Yeah, I love that as well. 

Rayne: Oh, yeah and, and if any of my muscles are aching or anything, they, they aren’t after my bath. It’s just amazing. And what I didn’t know is apparently Epsom salts baths? They also detox you. So they remove toxins from your body, which is really cool, because I didn’t know that. 

But at some points, I’ve lived in places where there wasn’t a bathtub. Yeah, there was just a shower, right. But in this case, I made an Epsom salt shower scrub. And all I did is take a couple of cups of Epsom salts and some coconut oil and mixed it together and there it is. 

Tonya: Nice. That’s really nice, too. I bet. 

Rayne: Well, sometimes I’ll add like, you know, I kind of I, I’d be really careful with like, what I’ve used on what was it? Said lavender might have been lavender Essential Oil, but I’ve been really really really careful about the grade and the type in everything.

Tonya: I can be irritating…

Rayne: If you Yeah, well also, because if it’s not a pure essential oil, then it’s got perfum, perfum, the chemical in it and parfum could be any chemical right? So I’ll be undoing what I’m trying to do. You know, so yeah. So I’ll I’ll, I’ll usually just stick with the Epsom salts and coconut oil and I’ll just like get myself all clean first. And then I you know dip my hand in the Epsom salts and coconut oil batch and then I’ll just, I’ll use it as a scrub to slough off all the dead skin and, and give myself a little bit of time because I really want that Epsom salts to soak into my skin essentially right? I want that magnesium in me. So yeah. And so that’s you know, that’s that’s worked pretty good when I haven’t had access to a bathtub so yeah. 

And then what else? Okay, another thing for me is limiting stimuli. So when I was thinking about physical self-care, for me, I realized that I seem to be becoming really mindful of limiting stimuli, so mainly in the form of people and activities. 

So because I feel like, for me, because I have a highly tuned nervous system that I can get overwhelmed by too much stimuli, which is challenging, because I’m also HSS. So, too much stimuli will cause me to react to people or situations, in a way I wouldn’t if my system wasn’t dealing with too much stimuli, right?

So that’s, that’s kind of how I can catch when, okay, I’ve gone I’ve gone too far for myself, because I’m reacting to something instead of simply observing it, seeing it, dealing with it, or whatever, you know, in a way, that’s, you know, so I can tell when I’m getting too much stimuli. 

So, which is, you know, weird, but, you know, our nervous system is physical. It’s, it’s, it’s, um, it’s a physical thing. 

So when I was thinking of physical stimuli, I was like, yeah, for me limiting stimuli is I’m, like, it’s, I’m noticing that is important for me that I have to, and it’s not about, you know, it is about setting boundaries, but it’s, it’s like, I’m setting boundaries, because I’m recognizing that my, you know, I need to look after my physical self-care, because if my nervous system is overwhelmed, well, I’m really no good to anybody or myself. Right. 

Yeah, that’s, so while the HSS part of me can get bored by routine, I do have to be mindful how much is too much. And, and when I’m feeling like, my system is getting close to being overwhelmed. And if I have gone too far, and I have gone into overwhelm, it’s then it’s like, Okay, now, it’s self-care, this is what you need to do to bring yourself back to your, you know, my equilibrium, like, where I feel comfortable. 

It’s a really, it’s a high wire, you know, walk honestly. You know, you really do have to find that, that, some, that sweet spot, and, and, you know, it’s okay, you know, it’s but it does take a little bit of experimentation, you know, of being like, okay, you know, how does this feel? How does that feel? Oh, you know, a bit of reflection at the end of the day. Okay. You know, this is so, yeah, I noticed for me, it’s, yeah, stimuli. 

Limiting stimuli is a is a big one again, I’m an introvert though, too, right? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And for the sleeping, you know, I’m same as you, Tonya. Definitely need eight hours. If I don’t, I can get cranky. Yeah.

Tonya: I mean, eight is nice. 10,10 is ideal.

Britta: Yeah. Sleeping in.

Tonya: Yes. Yes. Another thing for me is staying away, trying to stay away from sugar and caffeine as well. As, um, as a big one. 

Britta: So, yeah, I was about to say nutrition is also something I consider physical self care. Absolutely. What you put into your body is also huge. And I think for me, specifically, I just need to make sure that I eat at regular times, I can never skip breakfast, for example, because then I get this icky feeling of low blood sugar. It’s just yeah, that can really mess you up as well. So I really need to make sure that I eat at regular times. cannot skip any meal.

Rayne: Yeah, yeah, I become a grazer. Actually, no, I really have I become like, my breakfast is a good is a good breakfast but after breakfast I’m I’m mostly grazing I’m mostly every couple hours, I’m eating something, you know, so almonds, and the some that you know, I won’t really necessarily have big meals, but I’m, I’m grazing every couple of hours. And I find that really helps me to keep my energy level stable. Yeah, you know, right. Instead of like, you know, a big meal at lunch and then it’s like, oh, okay, great, but then I feel like having an eight hour nap, you know?

Britta: Yeah, exactly.

Rayne: So, yeah, I think I can do Yeah, so I also found for that sleeping and found that interacting with people an hour before I want to be asleep, can make it hard for me to sleep, even if it’s a good interaction, right? It’s just stimuli. And I need, and I realized, for me, I have to limit the stimuli with people, for myself before getting ready to sleep. So like talking on the phone, right? Or having like, a big deep conversation, you know, before. Like, I can’t do those things, you know, it’s just it’s too much stimuli. It’s too much information. It’s just too much, right? Yeah. So I have to limit. You know, I really do have to limit that, you know, before I’m getting ready to go to sleep, right? Like, I It’s weird. I can watch an enjoyable show, you know, like, you know, on my computer, or whatever, or read or whatever. And it’s all good. Right? But it’s if it’s people… I don’t know…

Tonya: Well one is active, and one is passive. Maybe?

Rayne: Yeah, yeah, that’s actually yeah, that’s a really good point, Tonya, because yeah, watching and show and reading, those are passive, and it’s not requiring anything from me. Yeah. Whereas dealing with people, it’s like, you know, you’re, you’re listening, you’re, you know, you’re picking up on the nonverbal stuff and all the rest of it, right. So it’s work.

Tonya: Yeah. And you’re picking up on their energy as well. So whatever they’re experiencing, even if it’s positive, it’s still you’re taking on someone else’s energy and processing it. And that’s how I feel anyway, about interactions with other people.

Rayne: That’s cool. Yeah, I don’t, I don’t feel like I’m taking on their energy, energy, I feel like but even the act of observing their energy, just noticing where they’re at. That’s, you know, and whatever it was we were talking about, and it’s just, you know, really, really understanding where they’re coming from. It takes, it takes quite a bit of energy. 

Tonya: Oh, for sure. It just takes a lot of energy. 

Rayne: So yeah, I don’t know. That’s strange, but that’s okay. That’s okay. 

Tonya: Not strange. It’s just your experience.

Rayne: Yeah, you know, what? That, you know, that’s the thing is, I think it’s, um, you know, having the HSP Trait, and, you know, it’s, it’s one of those things where it’s like, I’m okay, with understanding that I experience this world differently. Like, it’s, it was so weird to learn that I had the HSP Trait, and that only 15 to 20% of the population have this. It was so bizarre to learn that, like most people have, like, do not experience the world this way. 

So, you know, but then the more I kind of, you know, as time moves on, and I become more and more comfortable, I was like, you know, these are the things that you know, it’s cool, you know, it’s different, and yet it’s different, whatever, you know, we’re all different. Everybody’s different. And there’s in the end, that’s good. There’s nothing wrong with that. Right?

Tonya: Yeah, that’s what I love about our conversations is that even though we’re all HSP, right, we’re all so different. And we can all have our experiences. And so you can’t just say, you know, I’m an HSP and kind of group us all together, right? Because we’re all individuals on top of that, and we have our own sensitivities and experiences.

Rayne: Yeah, exactly. Absolutely.

Britta: So I’m actually wondering, talking about the physical is, is any of you really active in kind of sports or? 

Tonya: No, I did a triathlon once for you and I almost had a nervous breakdown, terrified of drowning but I have the medal to prove it.

Rayne: Good for you. 

Britta: No, but physical self care might also, people some people might really enjoy going to the gym more practicing 

Tonya: Oh yeah, for sure. Sports of some kind.

Rayne: Yeah, so so for me it’s really strange in my life it’s solo sports, solo doing things solo are those things I seem to do really well at like, the, you know, when I was a kid, it was gymnastics, it was downhill skiing, you know, it was not really the group the group sports.

Well, they do what they can be group sports, you know, like, you can be a team of skiers and a team of swimmers. Things like yeah, you know, and in gymnastics, it’s, you know, you’re on a team, but you’re, you’re performing on your own right. So yeah,

it’s not the same as like being on a, being on a soccer team or football team. Yeah,

yeah. So um, but I’ve always enjoyed, I’ve always enjoyed, you know, not to say like, I mean, I’ve played on baseball teams and, you know, done all kinds of stuff like that. There’s a you know, it’s it’s but I seem to enjoy the solo things more. So like I, you know, I love bike riding. You know, when I was in Chile, I went and grabbed a secondhand bike and I rode my bike everywhere.

Tonya: That would be nice. I’m so jealous.

Rayne: So, um, yeah, there’s, there’s, yeah, there’s lots of stuff that, that I’ve done. I noticed where I’m right now, I haven’t done a heck of a lot. But that’s mostly because I’m in you know, kind of a busy metropolitan area. So you know, so I think that’s got a little so I mean, I do my my walking and stuff like that anyways, because you know, anything I go to do I make sure I’m, I’m trying to, I’m walking you know, basically I’m getting there that way because it’s it feels good. And even you know, it could be I’m gonna go get a little treat from from the store. Oh, yeah, you gotta walk there.

Tonya: Living in a, in an area like that that’s one thing that’s really nice about it. You walk to things, would take me three hours to walk to our store. Are you are you sporty? Britta? Are you a sports team person? 

Britta: Not really. I used to dance. 

Rayne: Oh, that’s considered sports. 

Tonya: Yes, I think so.

Britta: Yeah, it’s, it’s pretty intense. And it’s, it combines movement and music, which, which are both things that I love. So it was mostly Latin dances, and then I did a Zumba for a while, which is, yeah, I don’t know if you know, Zumba. It’s this lesson inspired gymnastics, workout thing. And that was really fun. But then I had some back issues, and I had to drop it all. But I really enjoyed it. It was a really good way to get the energy out. As I was saying, like, now I am slowing down and I just go for a walk where I used to go dancing, and that was really, I always felt so good. Dancing, dancing, and getting the energy out. That was my workout. Yeah.

Rayne: Yeah. Cool. Well, hopefully, finally, maybe you can get back into it just to find a happy medium, you know, like, maybe not as, as intense as it was. Because maybe Yeah, did something to your back, you know?

Britta: Yeah, it was pretty intense. I was teaching at a certain point. So yeah, it really was a lot of nights a week, sessions a week. But yeah.

Rayne: Maybe that was your body telling you. Yeah, this is a bit much.

Britta: And that’s, that’s actually one of the good things also that I wanted to mention about physical self care isn’t listening to what your body’s telling you. For sure. And listening to Oh, and I’m probably the worst at listening to my own body. Because when I feel my back is playing up, and I’m like, Yeah, but just this little, or when I finish something, push too hard push too hard. And then afterwards that, you know, it wasn’t really a good idea to push through.

Rayne: Yeah, that’s interesting you say that because I’ve seen other HSP say things like, you know, I used to, you know, you know, like you brought out like I used to love dancing and I danced a lot and then I hurt my back and so I don’t dance anymore. And it’s like, you know, we’re pretty, human beings, we are pretty resilient little suckers because you know, as long as we give ourselves the time to heal and we treat ourselves right doesn’t mean we can’t can’t go back and do that same thing. You know, it’s just it’s just that was all that was was a sign saying okay, you know, you can totally do this but doing it too much you know, it’s about recognizing your the limits, your own limits and respecting them and being like, I can do this but this is this is this is how much is too much. This is how this is the you know, it’s like a pea and the princess is bad you know a little bit too much or you know, that was that was that little one with the three bears? You know, this beds too big this beds too small. 

We just, we have to do, sometimes do a little bit of experimenting to find that right match. 

Britta: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like baking the right amount that you need to get your perfect cake.

Rayne: Exactly, exactly. Okay. Well, thank you, Tonya, and Britta for sharing your experiences and thank you Highly Sensitive listeners for sharing your time and space today. 

Feel free to join us on Instagram or Facebook. And if you’d like to have a conversation with us or you have a topic idea, please email info at HSP dot world and we’ll be in touch. 

Join us for our next podcast where we’ll be chatting about Mental Self-Care Strategies for Highly Sensitives.

See you next time, bye Tonya. Bye Britta. 

Tonya & Britta: Bye bye.

Music credit: Journey Starts From One Step – Musik av Gvidon

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