Here are 4 great survival tips for the highly sensitive person, written and sponsored by The Sleep Advisor.
Some people could knock an old lady down in the street and not give it a second thought. Others float through life like a leaf on the wind. And some of us stress and agonise over the smallest detail for days.
If you, like me, fall into the latter category then you’re likely what is called a ‘highly sensitive’ person.
The modern world we live in is made up of a lot of different types of people. And that is fine. But it definitely isn’t designed for us.
Lights, colours, noises, smells; all of these just seem to affect us more than others and sometimes it can be overwhelming.
So how to cope? Well, over the years I’ve toyed with many survival strategies. Today, I’m going to share my top four ways to stay sane in this hard-knock life…
Get more sleep
Everything feels better when we’ve a good night’s sleep behind us, right?
Sleep makes us sharper, smarter, more emotionally resilient and well, just a little better at everything we do. Poor sleep leads to impaired cognitive function; meaning our reactions are dulled, our attention to detail diminished and our ability to make decisions slowed.
If, as a sensitive person, you find yourself overwhelmed in busy situations and prone to flustering if things don’t go exactly to plan, sleep deprivation is going to compound and exacerbate these traits. The solution – get more sleep.
Unfortunately, if you’re a highly sensitive person, chances are you may suffer from a little trouble getting to sleep. It seems the brain loves no time better to start worrying about life than when the lights have gone out.
If you do struggle dozing off there are many places to go for expert tips and tricks out there. Some techniques, such as creating a regular pre-bedtime routine, did me wonders. As did banning screens from my bedroom.
Take up mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation, whether secular or a little bit more Buddhist in flavour, has been proven to help in reprogramming our neural pathways; a process known as ‘neuroplasticity’.
In fact, it could be said that being a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ is already a form of mindfulness. Because HSPs take into account the smaller things in life that many others overlook. This can be a beautiful bonus, but as many of you well know, a curse also.
Still, the meditative aspect of mindfulness can mitigate the impact of negative thoughts, effectively reprogramming the brain to think less self-referential thoughts.
It does this by reducing activity in the ‘me center’ of the brain, quieting the wandering ‘monkey mind’ that spends so much time worrying about the future and the past. Perfect.
This is particularly useful for anxiety, especially social anxiety.
Plus, meditation is now super-trendy. Back in the day, saying you were off to meditate might get you branded as a ‘hippy’. But now, as the scientific benefits of meditation are becoming widely understood, the practice has entered the mainstream.
For once this a bandwagon I don’t mind hopping on!
Seek out a support network
As a HSP you may often think you’re different from others and as a result feel alone in this world. The reality could not be further from the truth. A quick Google search will show you just how many people out there share similar thoughts and worries as you.
One of my top tips is: don’t suffer alone. Reach out and make contact. Find a support network, whether it’s in the form of a group, or just a sensitive friend you can put your trust in.
Better yet, find a mentor – either in the real world or online – someone who has been through the same things you’re going through and has made it to the other side.
Yes, that other side really does exist!
Obviously we all know that a big grin makes us feel good, but it turns out that laughter really is the best medicine…and one sure-fire way to relieve stress and reduce anxiety.
Laughing, it seems, triggers a set of chemical responses from your brain that are as powerful as any antidepressant. With laughter, your stress levels are reduced and your mood improved. Yay!
Don’t have a funny friend to hand? Well, fortunately you can cheat the system. Even just reminding yourself of funny moments from your past can cause endorphins – your body’s homemade prozac – to be released into your bloodstream. I’m already tickled by the thought!
The tips above aren’t going to be overnight solutions; each of them will take a bit of work to get right. Sometimes, a lot of work. But trust me – they will pay off. And you can enjoy the benefits of being the wonderful, highly sensitive person that you are.