The HSP World Podcast Ep. 5: How Do You As An HSP Approach Your Health?
We’re happy to announce The HSP World Podcast is available in iTunes, Google Play, Podbean, and Spotify!
Thomas: Hi and welcome to the HSP world podcast. With each episode, we invite a guest with the HSP trait to have a conversation about a burning HSP-related question that they have. We’re not coaches or therapists. We are HSPs holding space with you. I’m one of your hosts, Thomas and your other hosts are…
Rayne: And Rayne.
Robyn: Alright. Well, welcome everybody today. We have a new guest, Stefanie. How are you doing?
Stefanie: Oh, I’m fine. Thank you.
Robyn: Great. Well, thanks for joining us today. Very happy to have you here. Stefanie, I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about how, or when you learned about the HSP trait?
Stefanie: Oh, my, HSP trait starts 12 years ago when I get my first kid. Before, I never knew what I’ve am. I was on my way and I searched what I am, who I am, what’s my position in my life. I always felt different to all of the other people. And then a friend of mine gives me a book about HSP mothers. And that was the opener to my HSP way.
I read this book and all these different signs and typical sentence you hear about HSP? Get deep into my heart. And I felt, ‘Oh, that’s me. That’s me.’ And I cried a lot. I cried a lot. It was such a wonderful experience for me to know who I am. Yeah. Yeah. It was emotional for me at that moment. I had the little baby and it’s HSP too. I noticed them also. And I have it in my arms and I say, ‘Oh, I know how to help you. Wow.’
Robyn: Thanks for sharing that. It’s interesting. I have heard that from other HSP parents with highly sensitive children when they notice it in their children – that’s when they notice it in themselves. Yeah, kind of a cool process like that.
Alright, we actually had a different question planned for today, so why don’t we look at the other one? Would you like to tell us what your question was?
Stefanie: Oh, yes. My question, right. Sorry. My question was, what do HSP need for health? Yeah? To feel healthy? And what do they do for themselves to be, or stay healthy? It’s questions I always ask myself and, um, I have different experience and I’m interested in how it’s different HSP. I’m from Germany and you from USA. And I think there are different, um, cultures, um, different handling with health.
Robyn: Right, right.
Rayne: That’s a great question, Stefanie.
Stefanie: And I think as I for myself, um, find out that I hate perfumes. I go into a shop and there’s too much smell. Then I go out. Can’t stay in it, for example.
Thomas: I can certainly agree with you on that one.
Stefanie: It’s too much for me, yeah? If a person has too much perfume on it on herself or himself, it’s too much for me – sometimes I can’t even think.
Thomas: It’s overwhelming,
Stefanie: Overwhelming, too much.
And I’m also made the experience I need much sleep. How about you Thomas? Do you need more sleep than others? Do you think?
Thomas: You know, I sleep about eight hours every night and I think that’s about average. I mean, you know, there’s a part of me in the morning that doesn’t want to get up because it’s so comfortable in bed.
And it’s like,’No, I just want to dream some more.’ But usually about eight hours is about enough for me. And I feel pretty good with eight hours. Um, I can do with, you know, maybe seven hours, but if it’s less than that, then I’m definitely dragging during the day. And you know, I try to take naps, but naps, I don’t actually fall asleep during naps so it really doesn’t help.
So I have to get my full eight hours or so sleep.
Stefanie: Oh, interesting. Because I have some HSP is in my friendship they are awake at night and sleep all the day. And I ask myself if this is normal or not?
Robyn: I think I’ve, uh, seen all kinds of, sleep schedules, um, with HSPs.
There are some who are morning people. There are quite a few who are night owls and like to stay up, stay up quite late. But I don’t think that any one schedule is specific to HSPs. I know for myself, life is always easier when I get more sleep. Um, I haven’t, I, I did have a thought during the quarantine period, that maybe I would experiment with sleeping more and sleeping nine hours a night, which normally is unheard of.
Um, I didn’t end up doing it. I’m usually between seven and eight hours. That’s pretty good for me. I don’t feel burnt out. I still feel tired. I still managed to feel tired with that, but I don’t know if that’s specifically related to a lack of sleep, um, could be other things, you know, causing fatigue. But I do notice that it’s cumulative, right?
So I can usually, if I have, you know, one night where I only sleep five, six hours, my day will be fine. You know, I’ll feel it a little bit, but it won’t impact me severely. If I do that two or three nights in a row, that’s where it really starts to affect me. Um, so it’s not so bad if, you know, I have one night a week where I’m not sleeping as much, but I have to be careful about not doing that too often.
I think I would say if I had to think about how I approach my, my health more generally, I’d probably say that, the most key thing is balance, you know, balance and, figuring out what is important – like your own individual need, right? So like right now we’re talking about, okay, how much sleep do you need individually?
But I think the same thing goes for everything, like for, for food, for exercise. Yeah, just for, I don’t know any, how any substance that you might take, like a medication or something might affect you. Like I think, yeah, those are the two things that I’ve really tried to implement health-wise is like figuring out really how my own body reacts to certain things, even if that’s different from others.
And then in general, trying to achieve that right balance that fits for me. It’s not easy to do always though, especially when I’m out-of-sync. Like if I do feel that I need more sleep or more rest time, or, a different way of exercising or eating than what is available to me, it can be tough.
Rayne: I think for me when I think of health, I think of food. Food is the big deal for me. I like experimenting with, you know, different things and whatnot. And, um, years ago I was, I thought I was eating healthy and, whatnot and, at any rate, I came across a book called, “Eat Right For Your Blood Type”. And it basically explained that there’s essentially two kind of groups that people fall into, one is a Hunter and one is a Gatherer.
So the Hunters, um, if you have a blood type that falls into that group, you produce lots of acid, like just naturally your body produces a lot of acid and the Gatherers, um, their body does not produce acid very much at all. Right? So. That made a lot of sense to me because people who have whose blood type falls in the Gatherer, they can drink tons of coffee and it’s actually fine for them because coffee is pretty acidic.
But if your blood type falls into the Hunter area, you already produce tons of acid. So in-taking foods and drinks that are acidic, it, it throws off your pH balance. And so what I started experimenting with was how to balance out my pH levels in my body essentially. And, um, so my blood type falls into the Hunter, um, kind so I produce lots of acid. So that means – and the reason your blood type – that is kind of a big deal is so, you know, if you go back into the Hunter / Gatherer type stuff, Hunters can process meat very easily because the acid that they naturally produce a lot of breaks down the meat. No problem. Right?
Whereas the Gatherers they don’t produce very much acid at all. So it takes a lot of energy, like a lot of their physical energy, to actually process and break down meat. Right? So knowing that I just started experimenting with foods and drinks that would help me balance my pH level.
And so that kind of led me off into, you know, trying to eat and drink different things. And I know Stefanie you’re off in Europe, so, um, you know, food is different there. I mean, I’m in Canada. So, like for instance, your milk products – what is it that thing they do with milk here in North America?
Rayne: That’s right, Thomas. Yeah. We pasteurize it here. And plus there’s a lot of hormones and antibiotics and stuff that the, you know, the cows are injected with and all that. Right? So, whereas it seems in Europe, there’s a bit less of that going on. And I mean, some of it is just due to, you know, Canada’s a big country. So, you know, they put a lot more preservatives in food, I think, you know, depending on what kind of food you’re eating, but it’s different there. Isn’t it?
Robyn: Maybe this is a good point for a little bit of a disclaimer, I mean, we’ve already said this, but you know, we’re not giving health advice here. None of us have any nutrition or medical background. So please, if anyone is listening and they’re, they’re contemplating some of the things we’re talking about, do always like consult people who are more specialized in those areas. We’re just talking about, I think, you know, how things that we’ve done as HSPs and how we’ve found little things that work for us,
Stefanie: Absolutely. Yes. It’s different. I think there too. Here it is… they control stricter, I think. Yeah. What’s in the food. Mainly. Easier off of the food chain.
Stefanie: Absolutely. I experienced, I don’t know if it’s true or not. You may determine, but it’s my experience that they easily put off something that makes no sense. Or if there are any results or studies about it, it’s not good for the humans.
Rayne: Yeah. So, it’s actually – I found it to be a really interesting experience too, you know? Sort of approach food in a completely different way. I suppose more, uh, in a, in an energetic way. Like what, how is this piece of food, after I eat it, how does my body feel? That’s a really different way to kind of come about it. And it’s very individual, you know, it’s very individual. And so I just sort of started experimenting and doing different things. Like, so I stopped drinking milk, um, and you know, that’s it, I haven’t, I don’t drink milk. You know, basically, that’s been for quite awhile. And just, and I, the one thing that I’m not supposed to drink his coffee, but I can’t help it, and I do drink one every day. But what I do do is I eat extra greens to offset it. Yeah. To even out the pH level, because the bitters and the dark greens will kind of do that for me, you know, with my body.
Stefanie: I find true for myself too. I drink a glass of celery juice every morning first thing. Everybody looks at me like I’m an alien. And then I wait one hour and then I eat porridge, but only with a little bit of milk. A little bit of the taste I need. Yes. If I cook with milk and water, it goes, but if I cook with only milk, it’s too much.
Stefanie: My experience is lots of HSPs like milk, cheese, and something like that, especially in Europe, cheese in Switzerland and Germany is all over. You find everywhere cheese. But I can’t eat that much cause I get problems. I like it though.
And chocolate. It’s not good then much, but I like chocolate.
I’m very skinny. When you have a look at me, Thomas has seen me, I’m very skinny. So most people think, ‘Oh, chocolate, no problem for you. You are very skinny and you can eat what you want.’ Mainly yes, but sometimes it’s not good for me because I get stomachache or headache after eating something.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed the same experience? Sometimes I’ll eat something and I get headache and I wonder why, what I eat? And sometimes I think it’s because of the chemicals. Sometimes I think it’s not my day today. There was something different in it. I never know. And that’s sometimes really strange to me because one day I eat it, nothing happens. And the next day I eat it and I feel bad such experience.
Robyn: Sometimes it’s a question of what’s in particular kinds of chocolate, right? There can be particular additives or, I mean, the chocolate is a very vast product, and it can be produced very differently from one brand to the next. So it could be taking note of what exactly is in the chocolate that you ate that give you a headache versus something that went down fine.
Thomas: I think some chocolates might have caffeine or something else like that in it. I, myself, I eat one square of chocolate every day. So in that sense I try to moderate in the sense that I don’t like eat a whole chocolate bar, which would have a lot of sugar and all that. But I like having that, um, you know, whatever, 72, 75% dark chocolate. So it’s just one little square day. And, I don’t know if it helps, but it makes – it keeps me happy.
Thomas: One thing that I do feel is very beneficial, for me at least, is I drink a lot of water. I try to stay hydrated. I try to be drinking water every hour. And when I started getting a little bit dehydrated, that’s when, for me, that’s when the headaches start and that’s when I feel more tense and more nervous.
Rayne: Yes, you feel like you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty.
Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s helped me quite a bit just to keep reminding myself to stay hydrated. I’m looking around and I don’t see my cup of water, so I’ve got to go drink something after this. And then, and then for health, Robyn, I think you mentioned exercise. I find that I need to get outdoors and take a walk.
I don’t do strenuous exercise, but I do need to take a walk. I walk at least a mile a day, which is not very much, but you know, it gets me outside and it gets me away from the computer screen and everything else. When I walk, I don’t listen to anything. In other words, I don’t have my earbuds in.
I just go walk and just experience the outdoors, as it is. And I find that very beneficial as well.
Stefanie: Yes for me too. I have a dog and I must go outside. He teach me to go more out. Yeah? It was the reason why we, a year ago, took him into our family. My son always wants a dog. I never, I always said no, no, no. And then I get very ill last year and I decided to have a dog for healing myself and it really functions. Yeah? It makes me even fitter more healthier and more happier because his love is so fulfilling for me. It’s amazing. I think for me animals are also important to most HSPs don’t you think?
Robyn: Yeah. I think you can make a, I mean, if you want to connect to health, I think you can make an argument that animals are important to our health. Even like having some kind of connection or presence of animals. Uh, not everyone feels that strongly, but I think I have heard a lot of HSPs talk about how much they value their relationships with animals or just knowing that animals nearby, even if it’s like, I don’t know, a bird coming to make a nest in your backyard or something like that.
Rayne: Good for their mental health.
Robyn: Yeah, absolutely. To go back to exercise for a second. I think the other thing that’s interesting about your examples, Stefanie, is that, you know, you find, you kind of found there was something that. Pulled you into discovering an exercise what was good for you in this case, it was your relationship with your dog. And, uh, I found all my exercise habits have kind of come up tangentially. I’ve never said like, okay, I’m going to work out and that’s it. When I’ve done that, like, it doesn’t really stick.
Um, when it’s grown out of a natural love for something it’s become like a habit that has stuck with me for years. So for example, I got into running because I remember when I was studying a lot, sometimes when I was first living by myself and I was studying a lot, sometimes I was like, ‘Man, I just gotta get up and get out of the house.’
So I would just put music on and I would go for a walk. And then after a while it was like, ‘Oh, this would be better if I walked faster.’ And then after a while it was like, ‘Oh, this would be better if I was actually running’, you know, and I’m putting on more intense music.
And so I kind of built up to it and then eventually I was like, ‘You know what? I just like running.’ Okay. So I want to do that. And that’s something that I’ve done for, I don’t know, a good 10 years now. Not seriously. I don’t know that I’ve done much better than I did 10 years ago. But I still do it. Um, same thing for dance. It’s something that I do because, I, again, I like the music.
It’s the social interaction, even going to the gym. I actually started getting into doing more, I guess like resistance and weight training because I had colleagues who would always go to the gym at lunch and, you know, they were doing these fun programs and I got to know them a little bit better that way.
So I was like, yeah, why not? Why wouldn’t I go, you know, it’s right there? People I know are going. So I let the social pressure, like, you know, carry me to a good habit and then it just became something that I enjoy doing. And now sometimes like, I’ll do it at home by myself or, you know, I don’t know, I don’t necessarily need those people to be there, to do the workout. I enjoy it for what it is. But it, it was like, I think it’s, if you’re not the kind of person who likes the idea of exercising, I think, uh, focusing on like how, what are the things that I do enjoy that will bring me into this or focusing on, you know, how am I going to feel after, or what’s the overall benefit that it’s gonna bring me?
I think those are the two ways that I’ve motivated myself to exercise and, it comes to this more general point, that touches a little bit on what you were saying, Rayne that, you know, I think experimenting is really important, especially because, you know, some of the standards that are out there in terms of what is healthy for you, may be more appropriate for the 80% of the population that doesn’t have a highly sensitive nervous system.
So it’s always important whether you’re talking about food or sleep or exercise or even medications, I think it’s to be willing to experiment, try different things.
Like I had a similar experience to what Rayne described of like completely changing the way I eat. On how I approach food, when my lifestyle, my work situation changed and I suddenly had to experiment with other ways to, you know, to stay fed and keep my energy up. And, um, when you find something that works, it just makes such a difference and it doesn’t become an effort, right? Like you don’t feel like you’re dieting or forcing yourself to go to the gym.
Like when you find those things that really work for you. It does make sense. I mean, yeah, sometimes you have to push yourself or sometimes you may slip a little bit like too much chocolate, but it’s a little bit more holistic. Right?
Rayne: Yeah, what I found with, um, my case some of the things I eat is parsley. And like people, some people said, ‘Oh my God, how do you eat parsley?’ You know, it’s kind of a bitter. And, uh, but you know, it’s really funny because I just started experimenting with it and I found ‘Holy, this is a really good thing for balancing my pH level.’
Then I noticed, ‘Oh geez, it gives me energy’ and that’s important, you know? And I just started finding ways to make it kinda more palatable and it was like those benefits overrode everything you know? I don’t know what it’s like in your country Stefanie but in Canada, or at least how I was brought up – a lot of food is starchy and sugary.
So it kind of feels really weird at first to start to eat things that are not. But I found that my taste buds changed after a while. And to me, it’s like eating, you know, lettuce. It just has more vitamins and minerals and it, for me, just feels good. And it’s um, yeah, I like eating it and I wasn’t approaching anything like a diet, you know? It was more like ‘what benefits me?’
Rayne: Like what, what benefits me and, and kind of going with that, but at the same time, you know, some odd reactions from other people, cause at one point I wasn’t eating meat and you know, some people were like, you know, ‘What are you?’ or ‘You’re this or that?’
Or, uh, you know, I don’t know. I was just like, ‘No, I’m just seeing how my body feels. You know, I’m just experimenting to see what works for me.’ It’s very weird to see people’s reactions to it. Cause I wasn’t saying they had to eat any different way.
Stefanie: Everybody is different. And I think everybody has find out themselves what works and what not. I always tell my friends, if they’re also HSP like me, that’s my experience – please try. You can try it if you want, if you feel it’s right for you. I said always, ‘if it feels right for you’ because it’s important to hear on your intuition. Yeah off your heart. I made the best experience ever. If I only in the head, it’s not good decisions, always. When it comes from my heart, it was always good for me and otherwise not.
Robyn: I think of my friends who have allergies or who have even like chronic illnesses, like chronic indigestion or energy conditions. And, I think this is a little bit what they have as an approach is this similar view.
I mean, again, even that’s not, you can’t, over-generalize there, but I’ve seen a lot of people, you know, I think we understand a little bit better when someone who has allergies says like, ‘Oh, well, you know, I’ve tried this nut and nothing happens to me, but if I try that’ and not, ‘Oh, if I even smell it, you know, I break out in hives.’
Right? So I think that kind of concept, I think we understand a little bit better. Why someone with allergies, you know, observes their own personal reactions and have this like individual pattern in response to particular foods or other substances. And I think, I think it could help to borrow from that approach and to say, ‘Okay, like maybe I don’t have an allergy, maybe I do? But even if it’s not an allergy as such, like how, how do I react to things?’ You know? And it may not appear on paper, but let me actually go slow and observe and see what happens.
Thomas: I can definitely second that approach. What I found for me is that certain nuts like cashews and certain oils, like fish oils cause me to have heart palpitations. So I’m not allergic to those, but they definitely affect me in some way. And so I’ve just had to learn, you know, to sort of pay attention when I start getting, you know, heart palpitations, I have to think like, what is it that I’m eating now that might be causing that?
Robyn: And I love the idea of, you know, honoring the sensitivity of your body and your system, right? Like, so even like splitting hairs to the point of saying like, ‘Well, okay, I can have that, but not that.’ Or, ‘I can have this oil, but not if it’s raw and not cooked.’ Right? Like, I do know, like friends with allergies who will say, ‘Yeah, I could have this kind of wine, but not that kind of wine because there’s like this element in it’ or something. And yeah. You know, why not? If your body is sensitive to that level, then why not go with it? Right?
Stefanie: Right. I think so, too. Yes. For me, it’s also difficult because some wines I drink, nothing happens and another one, I took only a little bit. The next day I had bad headache.
Thomas: I’ve experienced that too.
Stefanie: Me too. Yeah. Robyn do you like wine or don’t you drink anything?
Robyn: So this is something I noticed actually with age. I noticed that my body processed alcohol differently. One day I was having some beer that, you know, before it had never bothered me and I woke up the next day and I felt like I was having an allergic reaction to it and it didn’t make sense, but I began experimenting with, okay, like if I have a white beer versus a red beer and it seems, you know, I haven’t done it scientifically, so I can’t tell you what is in each type that sets me off or not, but I can generalize a bit at this point, and I know there are some that are fine. I can have, you know, like I have a glass and I’m okay. There’s others I don’t feel good or they kind of made me feel just, you know, it’s just an unpleasant feeling. So, so yeah, again, it’s super individual, but it’s worth finding out though.
Stefanie: Yes. Very interesting. What you’re telling me about health it’s little bit different to Europe, I think, but most things the same. Really interesting.
Thomas: I wanted to mention one thing that relates back to exercise and the body. And that is I work at the computer all day long and so that means sitting and I actually have an egg timer on my desk. And what I do is I set the egg timer to 25 minutes and then I do my work.
And when the 25 minutes is up, it rings and it just reminds me to get up out of my chair and walk around for a bit. And even if I just, you know, get up and walk around for just a minute or two, it seems to – my body just feels so much better than sitting there for a long time. I feel it definitely in my joints – if I don’t get up frequently. So that’s just a little thing that I do, you know, a little tiny bit of technology, which is just the egg timer, that I found really helpful, for just feeling better.
Robyn: That’s a great tip.
Stefanie: Yes, really great tip, because we can forget. I always forget. I always spend a very long time to the computer too, because of Corona. Before not, but now… and it’s very good tip Thomas. I think about it.
Robyn: You guys are good actually, because, uh, I can’t help to not forget. I think I have an inner egg timer, but for a certain amount of time, I just can’t pay attention. I have to get up and go to the other room, get a glass of water and come back.
Thomas: Yeah, I can get so involved with what I’m doing with work or whatever it is that I’m doing, that I could sit there for like two and a half hours straight. If I didn’t have that reminder, you know…
Stefanie: When I’m in the flow, I don’t realize anything around me. I think that’s what you mean Thomas?
Thomas: Exactly. Yeah. You get in the flow.
Stefanie: And nothing I’m around – it depends on me. Nothing can control me. Sometimes my children stand behind me and tell ‘Mom, how are you?’ And I’m ‘What?’ And then I see. And sometimes they’re 10, 15 minutes behind me and I don’t realize them. So I think the reminder is sometimes something I should be doing in my daily checklist for my health.
Thomas: Well, Stefanie, I think we’ve had a wonderful conversation today. I’m curious how you feel about this conversation and were there some points that resonated with you?
Stefanie: Yes, many really with me. Thank you very much to Robyn, Rayne, and you, and it was a pleasure to be here.
Thomas: Thank you so much for joining us.
Rayne: Thank you, Stefanie. Thank you for your courage to ask the question on the podcast. I really enjoyed chatting about it and I know your question’s going to be helpful for other HSPs too.
Stefanie: I hope so. That was my intention to do it.
Robyn: I’m sure it will be. So thank you, Stefanie. And thank you to our listeners.
So please join us for our next episode where we’ll be having another interesting conversation with a highly sensitive who has a burning HSP related question, big or small. We invite you to ask it on the HSP world podcast. Just email [email protected].
Music credit: Intro and Outro music from the YouTube Music Library. Song is Clover 3.