6 Ways To Stop Stress From Sabotaging You

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Source: Morguefile

It’s hard to believe but there was a time in my life when I was dogged by one stressful incident after another. I could attract a stressful situation from another solar system! And this is the formula that not only killed those stressful programs stone dead, but led me to my vocation.

Number 1: Never Take Stressful Incidents Personally

It is very dangerous to IDENTIFY YOURSELF as a stress magnet—thereby adding emotional power—which through repetition encodes this erroneous belief deep in your subconscious mind.

When I realized that the world wasn’t out to get me I laughed. What arrogance we can have when we’re in a victim state! What would lead me to believe that the world revolved around me to such an extent that it had nothing better to do (with 7 billion souls in the game) than victimize me and watch me squirm for fun!

By taking each stressful incident personally I identified with it, branded myself as a victim of stress—thereby installing a program that set me up for similar experiences again and again I am a magnet for stress…I can see the evidence…and no matter how hard I try, I keep getting victimized

On brutally honest examination I became aware that there was a “poor me” pay-off that kept me repeating these experiences. This is how it went no matter how hard I soldier on, I keep getting covered in crap (look how bravely I keep putting myself in the line of fire)!

Ultimately, I understood that I was not the universal “stress target”. My self talk program changed to shit happens and I am unconsciously putting myself in its path! I am going to get out of the way from now on. And guess what? It stopped happening.

Number 2: Don’t Let The Stressful Stuff Pile Up

These are lots of little molehills—not one insurmountable psychological Everest. They are separate incidents and need to be dealt with separately one at a time. When we slip into overwhelm even things that have nothing to do with our direct experience get added into the mix. You hear something depressing on the news and you add it to your stress pack; a friend tells you a sad story and you add it to your stress pack. Something breaks or gets stolen and you add it to your stress pack.

Depressing news is all around us all the time. People tell sad stories all the time. Things break or get stolen all the time. That’s life. These things happen. Plans don’t always come together as we envisage them. Who gave you the stress franchise? It’s not just your experience. It’s every human’s experience from time to time.

Number 3: Learn From Repeating Stressful Situations

If SIMILAR stressful situations keep happening there is something YOU are not learning and applying that keeps them recurring. You are repeatedly using a strategy that you know from previous experience is not going to have the outcome you desire. So change the strategy!

I used to move on too quickly from my less-than-comfortable experiences, before evaluating the part I HAD PLAYED in them. I just put my foot on the gas and headed straight for the next disaster. But then having branded myself a victim, of course I couldn’t take responsibility—that would have blown my award winning victim role right out of the water!

Because I failed to take ownership I couldn’t relate it to something I was doing or not doing. Hey I’m the one being picked on I would tell myself, it can’t be me that’s co-creating this mess. So I never learned the lessons inherent in these experiences. I just kept stepping into the same pile of poo. It really didn’t occur to me that I could choose another route.

Sometimes it’s not what we are actively doing to keep this stress cycle repeating—it’s what we are NOT doing. It can be negligence, impulsiveness, people pleasing and not setting personal boundaries. It can be that we are not expecting a return on our efforts; undervaluing ourselves or being too unassertive.

Number 4: Set Boundaries

If you want to become immune to stress—start setting boundaries Protecting your wellbeing needs to be your first priority. From the moment I made respect boundaries top of my agenda on a daily basis in every level of my life—the stress disappeared.

Number 5: Are You Using Stress As An Excuse?

Accept that you are USING STRESS AS AN EXCUSE to evade responsibility and commit to action. Then things will change! Ask yourself how it is possible for someone as smart, capable and valuable as you to keep repeatedly experiencing these situations. It can only be an unconscious belief program that keeps drawing you back again and again. When I identified the part I was playing in this stress game and changed my behavior and beliefs—the stress cycle stopped. This is not for the faint hearted—brutal honesty is called for.

Number 6: Repetitive Experiences Are A Clue

The repetitive experiences in your life are a diagnostic clue. This is how self sabotage works—we unconsciously install a victim program with some kind of “pay off”. And for as long as we are benefiting from this “pay off” we will never solve the problem. We just keep putting ourselves in a position where the pattern repeats again and again—like lab rats pressing a button to get a reward. The names and places may be different but the dynamic is the same.

Mastering Stress

If you use these 6 strategies you cannot fail to defeat your stress saboteur. There will still be countless potential stresses around you on a daily basis.

  1. Never take stressful incidents personally.
  2. Never group all the stressful stuff together and make a mountain out of it.
  3. If SIMILAR stressful situations keep happening—there is something YOU are not learning and applying that keeps them recurring.
  4. One of the first skills to master if you want to become immune to stress is boundary setting
  5. Accept that you are USING STRESS AS AN EXCUSE to evade responsibility and commit to action.
  6. The repetitive experiences in your life are a clue to where the problem lies.

 There will always be stressful situations around you (just like everyone else) but they won’t have your name on them. They won’t follow you everywhere you go like a bad smell. Why? Because YOU will be consciously directing your life!

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Are You A Pink Tutu Person?

pink tutu

A funny thing happened one day – I fell in love with a pink tutu.

Actually I really fell in love with a couple, their story and the healing effects of a pink tutu.

I hope you will too.

Who Knew, Pink Tutu?

In 2003 Bob Carey put on a pink tutu and took pictures. His images became a blessing to him and to others. Why? Because his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer and he was seeking to support her healing.

Cancer is tough as is any serious illness. His wife, Linda, was diagnosed  with cancer in the early 2000s and recovered only to be rediagnosed in 2006. Obviously her journey is a difficult one. Bob donned the tutus to cheer her up and help her heal. She would share her tutu photos with other cancer patients and they would all have a lightening laugh. Lightness can be very difficult to achieve when you have a serious illness but is also very healing. It brings fresh energy into the body which can release stuckness and stagnant energy. That release can facilitate healing.

Bob and Linda and their pink tutu story are beautifully documented in this video. The images are a hoot!

Bob’s work has been published and is the foundation for the Carey Foundation and the Pink Tutu Project for Cancer awareness. You can visit here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Magic Of Oxygen

 

The Magic Of Oxygen, HSP Health

Cartoon Diseased Cell © by ssoosay

Oxygen is becoming a huge issue.

In prehistoric times, oxygen was 30-35% of the atmosphere. Now it is around 20-21% and in large cities even less – around 15%. And the amount of oxygen is declining still. These levels of oxygen are not life sustaining.

We are at risk of permanent structural oxygen deprivation.

What Is Hypoxia?

Too little oxygen in the body or oxygen deprivation is called hypoxia.

Oxygen deprivation can have many causes:

  • stressful living conditions
  • environmental conditions
  • dense living situations with a lot of demand on the supply of local oxygen
  • automobile exhaust can reduce available oxygen
  • poor breathing habits
  • toxins on the body.

There are a lot of reasons why someone might have unhealthy levels of oxygen in their body. One of the most important occurs when we are under stress which is when we often start to breathe in a shallow way and lose the oxygen intake we need to thrive. Over time, we will become debilitated from a lack of oxygen.

Stress And Oxygen Deprivation

Stressful situations are conditions where the body sends emergency supplies of oxygen and nutrients to where the body thinks they are needed.  Stress creates conditions where greater oxygen is needed and used and less oxygen may be taken in.

On a short term basis that is not a problem. On a long term basis it is a disaster.

When you breathe in, you take in oxygen and whatever else is in the atmosphere. The oxygen comes into your lungs and then enters your blood stream attached to the hemoglobin in your blood and eventually makes its way to the cells of your body which require oxygen in order to function. Oxygen is a catalyst for cell function to come to life. Once used, the cell then sends carbon dioxide waste back through the blood stream to be expelled when you exhale.

Oxygen synthesizes ATP which the cells use to create the energy to function. With hypoxia, the ATP synthesis process does not happen properly and the cells cannot carry out their designated purpose. They will build up lactic acid and cell processes will become sluggish.

Hypoxia also affects the blood, leads to higher acidity in the blood which also affects metabolic processes. In effect, all the cells of the body under the condition of hypoxia will operate in a suboptimal way. When metabolic processes are inadequate, food and emotions will not be processed properly and begin to clog the system weighing you down. As a result you will be start to feel ill at ease, and may not necessarily know the cause.

Hypoxia Symptoms And HSP’s

Hypoxia symptoms include headache, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Hypoxia may result in depression and other mood problems. According to Normal Breathing, hypoxia can contribute to many diseases including diabetes, cancer, chronic fatigue and heart disease.

Highly sensitive people are particularly vulnerable to this condition of having too little oxygen in their bodies due to the high amount of stress that they experience. Anything that we can do to reduce stress in our lives is valuable and helpful such as

  • taking time to decompress from too much stimulus as frequently as possible
  • good breathing habits
  • healthy lifestyle habits
  • meditation
  • detoxification
  • supportive family and friends
  • therapy
  • energy healing techniques.

Our over stimulated world is dangerous for the health of highly sensitive people. It can seem overwhelming to try to manage your life and still reduce stress levels that can lead to debilitating hypoxia. We all need adequate oxygen levels in order to live well. Anything we can do to help ourselves will be welcomed by our overtaxed bodies and stress emotions.

So allow yourself the nourishment of healthy oxygen levels by eliminating all the stress creating oxygen eaters in your life. Your body and mind will be grateful.


21 Habits of Stress-less People

Source: Randy Robertson - Flickr

Why, in a world full of potential stress triggers, when exposed to identical stressors, do some people seem to be immune, while others fall over like flies? While researching material for my books, I have ploughed through mountains of scholarly articles, case histories, experiments, research and conclusions about why people succumb to stress – with the statistics to back them up.

But there seems to be very little research allocated to success stories.

Why is there such an emphasis on the problem? Why aren’t we spending equal or greater amounts of time and resources on studying the exceptions to the rule; people who live in a high stress environment or experience periods of incredible pressure, without succumbing to the negative effects of stress? In fact many emerge fitter and feistier than before. What do these people do differently? This is what I wanted to know.

And these are some common themes I found.  

What Stress-less People Focus On

Stress-less people know that the thoughts they think, the words they speak, the food they eat, the books they read, the movies they watch, the games they play, the expectations they have, the people they hang out with, their daily habits—and most of all their dominant feelings, shape their lives.

The exercise habit

It seems that some people would rather eat rat poison than exercise. Extraordinary I know, but these are some common excuses I hear:

I hate exercise. More than you love being healthy and relaxed you mean? What does this say about the relationship you have with your body? If you haven’t tried every form of exercise there is and hated every one, this is untrue.

I have family commitments. And do these include being a role model for how to be healthy – or not? Do these family commitments include the risk of early degeneration and death? And what is preventing family exercise?

I don’t have time. And do you have time to be stressed and ill? What is stopping you re-arranging your priorities, or combining exercise with work or socializing?

I can’t afford it. Do you have any idea how many types of free exercise there are? Have you researched the potential cost of not exercising?

Exercise is a powerful act of self love; a prayer of appreciation; an absolute non negotiable for building immunity to stress.

The water habit

The African baobab tree, because its habitat is so arid and dry, has a unique ability to store large volumes of water. We do not! The human body is composed of around 85% water. This provides structural support for our billions of cellular citizens. It supports complex biochemical reactions and is the major component of our blood and other body fluids.

Like the canals in Venice, our internal transport system is waterborne.

It is this water supply that distributes what we ingest throughout our bodies. It is water that flushes toxic waste from every part of this miraculous ecosystem, preventing us from turning into toxic swamps.  As long as enough water and oxygen are available, everything works smoothly.

Yet there are staggering numbers of people on our planet who rarely or never drink water.

The late F. Batmanghelidj, MD, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, spent years researching the profound benefits water has on the physiological functions of the body – and the lethal impact of dehydration. From the new perspective of my twenty two years of clinical and scientific research into molecular physiology of dehydration, he wrote, I can safely say the 60 million Americans with hypertension, the 110 million with chronic pains, and the 15 million with allergies….all waited to get thirsty.

The sleep habit

Most of us sleep significantly less than we did fifty years ago. Many people think sleep is a waste of time. Research is ongoing and although we may not yet know exactly what sleep does, we do know that lack of it has multiple negative knock-on effects.

It hasn’t been used as a torture tool throughout history for no reason.

According to various surveys, sleep deprivation among children may have a profound impact on ADHD symptoms. When adults are tired they usually become sluggish. When children are tired they tend to overcompensate and go into overdrive. This is why sleep deprivation is sometimes confused with ADHD in children. Children (and adults) may also be inattentive, impulsive, moody, emotionally explosive, or aggressive as a result of sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep and stress go hand in hand.

The eating habit

Unsatisfied emotional hunger often results in an over-dependence on nurturing from food. Being a product of Africa, where the specter of starvation often stalks, it’s a bit of a stretch for me to understand the scourge of obesity that is equally lethal.

Half the world is dying from need. The other half is dying from greed.

And greed is just another form of need.  Then in the midst of greed, people are dying from self inflicted need (anorexia or bulimia.) Yes, I’m confused too!

The weight of an obese body is only partly due to an imbalance between food and exercise. What about the weight of despair, shame, loneliness, resentment, and lack of self love? Obese bodies are carrying burdens they were not designed to carry – and seeking solace from an ineffective source.

Imagine having a twenty, thirty or fifty year backlog of unresolved issues in storage; stuffed into the warehouse that is your body. Of course your body has to stretch to accommodate them. So it has to keep expanding in order to contain this mountain of unresolved stuff.

Our bodies were designed to process the experiences of life—not store them in dispatch!

Enlist professional help and have a spring clean, just as you would in your home; get rid of anything you don’t use on a daily basis and is taking up valuable mental real estate. Our most compelling desire is not for food. Our most compelling desire is for love, respect and acceptance.

A good therapist can help to disentangle physical hunger from emotional hunger and when emotional hunger is satisfied, physical hunger is easy to satisfy in a healthy, balanced, enjoyable way.

The mental cleanliness habit

When your vehicle gets dirty, you take it to the car wash. When your clothes get grubby you put them into a washing machine. What then do you do with your mind and emotions when they get mucky?

The amygdala, a part of our second brain is our memory museum.

Memories attached to strong emotions (whether intensely pleasurable or intensely painful) are more likely to be stored in here.

When the amygdala registers impressions emailed to it by our sense of smell, taste, sight, touch or hearing, it processes it by ‘speed dialing’ previously stored information to find a match. This is a valuable time saving function. But it can be problematical because people, situations and events that are even indirectly related to this memory, can trigger an overreaction.

Say for instance, you were involved in a tragic car accident on a mountain road in snowy conditions, the stored memories might trigger an instant fear of similar smells, sights, sounds or sensations. If you were humiliated, bullied or abused by a muscle bound man with red hair and an Irish accent your speed dial function might trigger an instant dislike or fear of anyone answering even part of that description.

Our prejudices, fears and stress triggers are often based on these false memories.

The oxygen habit

Dr. Otto Warburg, a two-time Nobel Prize winner reveals that the cause of most disease is lack of sufficient oxygen in the body. Oxygen deficiency fosters the build-up of disease, which, over a period of time overwhelms the body’s immune system.

Most strains of harmful bacteria, as well as cancer cells are anaerobic and cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.

Under ideal circumstances, our atmosphere contains about 20% oxygen, although it has recently been reported that in many of our more polluted cities, levels have dropped to around 10%. It’s obvious that our oxygen needs are not being met. Several of the most common ailments now affecting our population especially in the polluted metropolitan areas are directly related to oxygen starvation. It’s hard to be de-stressed and oxygen starved at the same time.

The wellness habit

I’m wondering whether the world of medicine and therapy is running out of diagnosis labels, and manufacturing illnesses. For every conceivable feeling, emotion, thought, or physical characteristic they seem to create a diagnosis, an appropriately official label—and of course medication to manage it.

I guess disease mongering is pretty lucrative.

So that psychopathic bully in the playground is just a poor misunderstood boy suffering from Defensive Reaction Syndrome. And that habitually obnoxious colleague you work with? Well, you mustn’t make him feel marginalized; he’s just suffering from a Social Personality Challenge. The employee you’re about to dismiss because she’s so lazy she makes a slug look hyperactive—well, she’s just suffering from Delayed Motivation Syndrome.

Come to think of it, I would undoubtedly be a candidate for a diagnosis.

I’m terminally happy and unnaturally solution oriented. I take abnormal responsibility for the quality of my life at every level, I laugh far too much, I’m too damn healthy, my weight hasn’t varied in thirty five years, I lavish my loved ones with too much affection and greet each day with excessive anticipation! There must be a label for this condition.

This emphasis on illness instead of wellness has encouraged many people to develop an illness dependency.

At some point in their past it received positive feedback and rewards. It proved an effective way to get attention and feel nurtured. It met their needs, and so it stuck. We’re all attention seekers by nature. So if we’re not getting attention and appreciation through constructive strategies we’ll use whatever works. Entire cultures have evolved that reward illness and penalize wellness. I don’t know about you, but when I’m ill, I’m definitely stressed.

The love habit

If you were given a multi million dollar mansion at birth – would you allow it to deteriorate into a seedy, unsanitary squat, with a leaky roof, cracked and peeling walls tattooed with graffiti, and a blocked sewerage system?

So why do we allow the opinions, trends, expectations, benchmarks and criticisms our environments bombard us with, to devalue this truly miraculous organism with which we live so intimately twenty four hours a day?

When we love ourselves, and are loved by others, a cocktail of healing chemicals are released, which in turn triggers the release of anti-stress and anti-aging hormones. These speed cellular repair.

Only when we deviate from our natural biological balance, does our body rebel.

The 21 Habits Of Stress-Less People

Stress-less people:

  1. Make their health a priority – especially when under pressure
  2. Don’t warehouse mental or emotional ‘weight’ and keep their internal environment clean
  3. Drink plenty of clean water
  4. Breathe clean air
  5. Exercise regularly
  6. Don’t deprive themselves of sleep
  7. Know the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger
  8. Ask for and accept help when they need it
  9. Are not dependent on other people’s approval – they already have their own
  10. Are not slaves to societal trends
  11. Instinctively look beyond life’s challenges for messages and solutions
  12. Can detach when necessary and have good emotional management skills
  13. Focus on wellness and balance – not illness and imbalance
  14. Treat their minds, bodies and emotions with respect – especially when under pressure
  15. Consciously choose the words they speak
  16. Consciously choose the fuel they feed themselves
  17. Know that what they put in they get out
  18. Surround themselves with supportive, uplifting people
  19. Deliberately adopt productive daily habits
  20. Feel joyful and positive most of the time
  21. Love themselves – without reservation

Would you like to become immune to stress? Then contact me at pam@paminamullins.com

What habits would you add?

The Power Of Rituals For An HSP

The Importance Of Rituals For HIghly Sensitive People - HSP Health Blog

There was a good year where I listened to the same album every night as I drifted off to sleep.

I didn’t get tired of it. I loved knowing what to expect. I knew the order of the songs, the way things started and the way the music progressed.

I loved having something familiar there for me night after night before sleep. It was my way of being there for myself again and again.

The songs had meaning, sure. I felt their melodies more than the words though, deep to my core.

At the time, I did not know what highly sensitive person (HSP) was. I just knew that I went through life feeling things very intensely. I loved to know what to expect. I loved familiarity as I was in a strange place away at college.

And listening to the same album every night was my normal. It felt perfectly natural to me.

It was when I shared it with others that I got a “Huh?” kind of response. I don’t know why, but I thought they would be able to relate, as if they were doing it, too. It just felt so natural to me that I assumed it did for everyone else.

Why HSPs Need Rituals

For HSPs, having daily rituals in their lives can help them find balance feel at one with their world, instead of just being overwhelmed by it most of the time. Having that album play each night before sleep was my start to embracing rituals in my life.

Rituals can have a profound impact on us HPSs: they calm and ground us, soothe the spirit, slow us down, remind us to live in the present moment, nourish our soul, and remind us that we are responsible for our own well-being.

Think about what you love to do. What soothes your soul? What comforts you and brings you to life at the same time?

Rituals have a calming effect on our nervous system because it gives us something to look forward to that is at once both freeing and grounding. It brings us out of our heads (anyone else live there almost 24/7?) and back into our bodies. It gives us a break from the overthinking mind and lets us rest right here, right now.

Ways To Add Rituals To Your Life

Doing rituals on a regular basis (daily if possible) is ideal because it lets us know calm is on the calendar. If you haven’t realized yet, self care is of utmost important to HSPs.

So what is an example of a ritual? You don’t need to listen to the same music every night to be adding rituals into your life, promise! Spend some time thinking about what grounds you. Because HSPs can live in their heads so much of the time, ask yourself what brings you back to earth.

Some examples of rituals include:
- Drinking a hot cup of tea while reading a book
- Walking your dog through your favorite park
- Listening to music you love while taking a dance break (my personal favorite!)
- Tuning into yourself through meditation
- Stretching your body and breathing
- Writing in a journal
- Asking yourself what you are grateful for

Perhaps it’s even a combination of these examples, or something completely different. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what ritual might work for you, think about what grounds you and brings more balance into your life. Jot some ideas down and get a good list going that you can refer back to. Try something out for a few days or a week and see how you feel.

At first, it may seem like a lot to ask. It’s important to remember that HSPs tend to not like structure, unless it is of their own creation. Adding in a daily ritual is doing just that—taking power back into your own hands and creating balance in your life in the process, one ritual at a time.

Bringing in a daily ritual is a way for HSPs to work with their unique trait, not against it. We need more downtime than the average person, and setting time aside each day for a meaningful ritual is your time to reconnect with yourself.

What comes to mind when you think of a daily ritual? Do you already do something every day that you would consider a ritual? Leave a comment below and let’s share ideas and support each other.

Create A Successful And Peaceful Work Environment

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shutterstock_73796224Many specific methods can help create a more peaceful work environment helping the HSP become more successful at their job.

Consider which of the suggestions in this section are germane to your workplace and try to incorporate some of the following ideas into your work situation.

Make Your Physical Work Environment Beautiful

You can listen to calming background music to reduce or eliminate ambient noise at work. Many HSPs have told me that they frequently listen to music, wearing a headset, while some wear earplugs on the job. Put up inspiring pictures of natural settings such as land or seascapes or family pictures.

If you are working under fluorescent lights or in an artificial urban setting, gazing at nature will soothe your nerves. It may also help if you bring flowers and plants to your office. Your nervous system will be calmed by inhaling the delicate fragrance of flowers or by gazing at an exquisite bouquet. Surround yourself with the love of pictures of family and friends. Make sure that you have a comfortable chair to sit in throughout the workday so that your muscles are relaxed. You can buy a massage cushion for your chair that will electronically massage your tension away throughout the day.

Try to transform the sound of the telephone ringing at work into a relaxation cue. First lower the volume if possible. Let the ringing remind you to relax your muscles, take some slow deep breaths and repeat a mantra such as peace. If possible, don’t answer the phone until the third or fourth ring. Use those few moments to relax deeply.

Reduce Stimulation In Your Work Environment

It’s a good idea to create a daily work schedule to reduce stimulation, rather than just immediately jumping into a busy workday every morning. When you first arrive at work, center yourself by spending a few moments either meditating or doing some slow, deep abdominal breathing. Look at your work schedule for the day and decide, given your sensitivity, what is a realistic expectation of assignments to be completed. Try to schedule some time for relaxation breaks and remember to practice progressive muscle relaxation at your workstation.

The HSP traits of being very responsible and feeling easily overwhelmed by time pressure can really exacerbate stress. If you feel that the demands of the day will be too overwhelming, try to scale down your workload or talk to your supervisor. Be realistic and don’t create added stress by trying to push yourself beyond your limits.

I have learned to say no to taking on extra commitments at work and in my personal life. Although I sometimes feel guilty when I say no, the alternative for me is increased anxiety since I always feel that I need to follow through with any commitment that I make. However, if I feel that my energy is strong and I have free time, I will frequently volunteer on the spot to help out in areas that I previously didn’t want to commit to. This method of spontaneously assisting others seems to suit the HSP temperament by employing the characteristic of compassion without feeling overwhelmed by future commitments.

Since HSPs are easily affected by other people’s moods, when you are working under time pressure, you may write, talk and type faster, which exacerbates tension. You may want to put a note on your desk reminding yourself to work slower, rather than being swept away by the frenetic moods of your colleagues. You can remind your coworkers that Type A employees succeed in spite of their time urgent, competitive and aggressive behavior, not because of it. The pause to reflect trudging tortoise beats the hyper hare.

The use of aromatherapy, which is the inhalation of vaporized essential oils, is another effective method to create tranquility at work.  Certain essential oils have proved effective against stress and help create relaxation.  For example, a study showed that keyboard errors decreased by over 50% when the fragrance of lemon is diffused into an office.

If you’re sitting all day at work, it’s important to periodically take walking or stretching breaks to reduce stimulation from your intense job. You can always do stretching, even while seated in your chair. Try to do progressive relaxation for a few moments every hour by visualizing all the muscles in your body relaxing further and further as you take some slow, deep breaths. I remember one student who worked in a very busy medical office told me that she didn’t have time to take even one break throughout the day.  However, she tried using progressive relaxation while working and found it quite effective in reducing stress.

If you have clients or customers who come to your workplace, you may want to have some uplifting magazines available to create a peaceful environment.  In addition, having calming herb tea and healthy snacks, like fruit, available for clients and staff is another potent method to create a tranquil work environment.

Some progressive, large companies have fitness centers and meditation rooms for their employees. You may want to investigate with your supervisor the possibility of creating a meditation room. You could point out that employee’s efficiency would improve if they had a peaceful room to meditate in for short breaks during the day.  A quiet dark room is a godsend for the HSP who works in a stimulating environment.

Harmony Is Important In Your Work Environment

To help increase harmony at work, recommend to your supervisor to install a suggestion box. Since the HSP may have many complaints and feel embarrassed to be asking for changes, the anonymity of the suggestion box would be beneficial. The suggestion box could also give an opportunity for non-HSPs who may be mildly bothered by some of the same conditions to express their opinion.

HSPs with insomnia usually find it stressful to be at work early every morning. Ask your employer about the possibility of arriving at work later in exchange for taking a shorter lunch hour or working a little later in the day. One student told me that when he didn’t have to be at work early every morning, he wouldn’t have as much difficulty falling asleep. He would tell himself that he could always sleep later the following morning, so it didn’t matter if it took some time to fall asleep.

However, if you enjoy going to work early, it can be beneficial for HSPs to start the day in a peaceful manner with few distractions. By the time the other employees arrive, you have already calmly started your day. You may then be able to go home early before rush hour traffic and have an opportunity to take a nap or take a walk in a park after work. You can explore with your boss if you could do some work from home, which is ideal for the HSP. More and more people are working part-time to full time from their home office, which really lessens over-stimulation for the HSP.

Remember that one of the most important factors in job satisfaction is experiencing positive interpersonal relationships at work. You can positively affect your interpersonal relationships at work when you are relaxed. If you’re feeling anxious, the tension amongst your colleagues will grow. However, when you are taking regular meditation breaks and utilizing other relaxation methods to create inner-peace, your coworkers will also become calmer. When you keep your sense of humor and smile frequently, your feelings of joy and happiness at work will increase.

By implementing the above techniques, you will create more inner peace for yourself and be more successful in your job.

How Highly Sensitive People Can Prevent Burnout

How To Prevent Burnout - HSP Health Blog

 

If you feel stretched beyond your limit you are not alone. The crushing workloads and stress of so many highly sensitive people  are a prescription for burnout.

You would think that avoiding burnout would simply be a matter of not crossing a threshold of fatigue.

Burnout is not that simple.

Many people in our fast-paced world burn out from the daily demands even if they are not highly sensitive.

For highly sensitive people the problem of burnout is amplified by their naturally higher stress levels caused. The overstimulation we experience is caused by a fast paced, noisy and sensory intense world.

Sources Of Burnout For Highly Sensitive People

Burnout can come from many sources for highly sensitive people:

  • work because we are increasingly expected to be as highly productive and fast-paced as our economic system demands
  • creative burnout since HSPs tend to be highly creative. Creativity does not follow a rigid schedule. However,  the expectation is that it will. Creativity can create pressure all by itself, but with time pressures added, creative burnout can be a result.
  • high empathy can result in serious burnout problems. Our empathy may cause us to dig deep and be extremely conscientious which is an added demand that we place on ourselves. It may not be rewarded, but is something we do to be at peace with ourselves.
  • too much sensory stimulation from all forms of noise, light, chemicals, and electronics to name a few can add also to our burnout potential.
  • toxic relationships, at home and at work are contributing factors as well.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is not just an emotional problem. Merriam-Webster  defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”

These factors sound simple and probably reflect the reality of non=HSPs. However that does not mean that they do not apply equally to highly sensitive people.

In the case of HSPs, both can be serious factors because our need for rest is high and frequent and because many forms of work do not suit us, in particular all forms of drudgery.

But there are additional factors for highly sensitive people:

  • the rest we need from being around people too much
  • the rest we need from all forms of excessive stimulation:
    • light
    • sound
    • fabric and touch
    • entertainment
    • crowds
    • high pressure situations
    • competitive situations
    • toxic social environments

Work burnout can also occur

  1. when the work we are doing doesn’t suit our skills or interests.
  2. when we know we are not interested in a particular job or task and force ourselves to do it too often
  3. when our work environment is fear-based and highly political
  4. when we have too many emergencies, both at work and at home
  5. when we are sick or a family member is sick causing us to burn the candle at both ends.

Work is a particularly challenging subject for highly sensitive people since we have the need for work that is meaningful, self-paced and our “calling.”

All these factors – the presence of some or absence of others create stress for highly sensitive people. Since our systems are so sensitive, poor health habits will only make all of the potential burnout factors worse.

When we are well we can withstand some turbulence in our lives. When rough spots last too long they start to debilitate us. Life is not meant to be a long emergency.

Assessing Burnout Potential In Your Life

To assess burnout potential in your life, evaluate each aspect of your life below on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being low in stress and burnout potential and 10 being extreme burnout potential.

  1. consider your physical condition:
    • if you are strong and have physical reserves, you may be an HSP who has the ability to withstand long-term stressful situations.
    • if you are an HSP with lower resilience, you need to be careful about how much stress you tolerate and make adjustments to prevent physical burnout.
    • you become fatigued easily
    • you are sick or get sick easily
  2. consider your work situation.
    • are you valued?
    • are you doing work you love r is a lot of it drudgery?
    • do you have the skills you need to succeed in your field?
    • do you work with people who are good for you including taking your sensitivity into account?
    • is the organization well managed so that you are not affected by constant emergencies?
    • do you have to overwork too much?
    • are you compensated well? Are your benefits good?
  3. consider your relationships.
    • start with your family. Is it a warm, loving and supportive family? Are you accepted or are you generally frustrated by the disregard and unhappiness in your family?
    • do you have close supportive friends who accept and understand your sensitivity?
    • do you have a community you are a part of that is also supportive of your HSP trait?
    • are you happy with your social life?
    • are your work relationships good and productive?
  4. consider the time of year.
    • are there certain times when you are more overloaded than others and at risk of burnout?
    • are there times when the people around you are overloaded and your responsibilities increase as a result?
  5. consider the overall stress conditions in your life?
    • do you have burnout in some or two area spilling over into others and are you able to take time to heal?
    • do you see the potential for burnout to develop in any area in the future?
    • when you look at your burnout assessment how does it look to you? piece of cake? manageable? serious burnout potential?

There are no right answers and no score to determine your burnout potential. Your assessment is a map of your current situation so that you can easily get a high level view of your current situation.

With your assessment in hand, it might be useful to consider whether your burnout challenges are people challenges, time management challenges, or a need to develop skills. Sometimes we lack a skill set that could make our life easier, save time and reduce stress.

Steps To Prevent Burnout

Anyone can suffer from burnout. Highly sensitive people are likely to be more quickly affected than others by a high demand culture. But there are some steps you can take to insulate from the worst effects of burnout.

Here are 9 things you can do to prevent your sensitivity from turning into full blown burnout:

  1. strengthen your body first.  Improve your energy by getting a great night’s sleep, exercising, keeping hydrated and eating well.  Detox your body since toxins can build up causing debility over time. Take herbs to support your nervous system and defuse the impact of stress on your body.
  2. learn to meditate to relieve stress and help you with emotional balance. A long term meditation practice can help you detach from toxic people and helps restore your nervous system.
  3. make a list of all the areas of your health that you need to work on and set priorities for them.
  4. research on the internet about areas of your life that need significant improvement. Do not be afraid to tackle large issues like career choices and family problems.
  5. do not be afraid to cut back on commitments that are too draining.  Your other commitments will benefit from your improved attention. You are not responsible for others expectations.
  6. upgrade your skills to keep yourself marketable and functioning well and minimize job stress.
  7. for the tasks you hate, you have several options: drop them if they are really unimportant, break them up into small bite size work units so that you only have to so it for a short time, delegate them, or trade your undesired task with someone else’s undesired task. Avoid drudgery. It is notoriously draining for HSPs.
  8. determine what is most important to you so that you increase your time spent on your high value activities and therefore increase your satisfaction. It will cushion you from less pleasant experiences.
  9. treat burnout as a life-time concern that you can eliminate but taking good care of your life. It is a serious challenge for HSPs but one worth taking on.

Everyone’s life matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their life.

HSPs need to learn to say no. You do not have to carry the world on your shoulders.

When you are flexible, mindful about commitments and your highly sensitive nature and take excellent care of yourself you are doing what is necessary to beat burnout.

Preventing burnout is one of the most important things a highly sensitive person can do.

It is worth the effort.

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Why Impatience Is SO Bad For You

Why Impatience Is So Bad For You - HSP Health Blog

Impatience is so bad for you.

It is one of the most seductive emotional states.

It is a great way to make life more difficult and relationships challenging.

Impatience is like playing a child’s game of bumper cars with real life and adult consequences.

Worshipping At The Altar Of Speed

I find the adoration of speed in our culture to be curious.

When I am going fast, I stop thinking.

Speed demands focus on the task at hand and so it cannot be a time to contemplate what you are doing.

To be truly effective at warp speed, you need to have contemplated, evaluated and assessed your intended actions before you engage in them,

Does our cultural speedfest really allow for that?

In my opinion, no.

Speed For Conquest

When the speed of daily life is ramped up, there are consequences. One of them is what happens with our attention and intention.

When we function at a slower pace, we spend time contemplating what we are doing, what we want to do,  and what we need to do.

We think about the implications of our actions, the alternative courses of action and the possibilities that our choices present.

We can own our intention.

When we have to go faster something has to give. What gives is usually the way we direct our attention.

A high speed life makes us more task oriented and more focused on the short-term.

That means that we delegate the long term to others. In doing so we disempower ourselves.

Faster living means that we have been made one down almost like objects or parts on a conveyor belt. We are the wheels on the bumper cars and someone else is doing the driving.

Our attention has to be elevated but we have lost our intention in the process.

Impatience Is Controlling

Moving at high speed means that there is not a lot of time for considering our purpose and agendas. Our attention is usually directed to working off items on our to-do lists. The really important stuff of life usually does not make our list and so without realizing it, our lives stop being our own.

We are living in speed, even in a state of perpetual emergency.

When you are in an emergency you do not have time to stop and ask why, you simply have to deal with it.

Someone else has set the priorities. While we think we are making choices, we are really filling in the blanks in a sentence created by someone else.

Observe impatient people. They are masters at making something wrong with you if you are not performing as they expect you to, or are not busy enough as if your busyness was a sign of your goodness.

How Impatience Took Us Over

Impatience is important as a social tool. It used to be that we aligned ourselves with nature. Our lives depended on an effective interaction with the source of our nourishment – the physical world we live in.

Nature is slow and always in process. It is interdependent. We have to work with and learn from nature. Imposing our will usually does not work vey well.

With the Industrial Revolution and the development of machines, markets took over from nature and became the center of our lives. We were diminished as was nature, simply servants of the market system.

The machine became almighty. We became dependent on:

  • the political machine
  • the machines of government
  • the machines of finance
  • the machines of war
  • mechanized business.

A machine doesn’t see you or relate to you.

You have to keep up with it, bend to it, and support it. This is why in spite of all the improvements in our living conditions, most of us feel an unspeakable loss. We never had it so good or so bad.

Taking Our Lives Back

Slowing down is the beginning of taking your life back.

It helps to see the mechanized structures of our lives as detrimental to intentional living, and look for ways to be as present as possible to all aspects of our lives.

We are not here to serve some machine.

We are here to live fully.

The impatient life of markets takes so much from us. Letting go of it, being willing to be without it as much as possible restores you to a right relation with your own life.

It’s worth doing.

It’s a great place to be.

Why Ayurveda Works For Stress Reduction In HSPs

Ayurveda For Stress Reduction - HSP Health Blog

As a highly sensitive person, I experience a lot of stress.

Most highly sensitive people do.

It is not a choice. Our nervous systems are sponges for the stimulus around us.

We become flooded and overwhelmed. If we are not careful we can drown and become unable to function.

Stress Reduction: A Necessity For Highly Sensitive People

Stress reduction is as much a necessity for highly sensitive people as air is for everyone. We simply cannot live without it.

When the pace of the world was slower, highly sensitive people could manage the stresses of their nervous systems better. Now that there is so much activity in our social space, the challenge of stress reduction for highly sensitive people has become more difficult and even acute.

Highly sensitive people require:

  • the opportunity to process whatever they take in
  • rest when their nervous systems are overtaxed
  • a lifestyle that supports their stress reduction requirements
  • work that supports their health and quality of life.

How Stress Reduction Problems Become Worse

Highly sensitive people can suffer more when their lifestyles do not support their needs or make their health challenges worse.

The demands of being highly sensitive require that we commit a certain amount of our energy to it. When our energy is too low or diverted elsewhere, then we will suffer and most likely become sick.

The following can make it more difficult for us to handle our sensitive natures:

  1. water, air, and noise pollution
  2. processes food
  3. food with additives
  4. GMO foods
  5. leftover foods
  6. fried and fermented foods
  7. meat which is harder to digest than other foods
  8. staying up too late
  9. lack of exercise
  10. an irregular schedule which will upset the nervous system
  11. work that is too high pressure or too much drudgery
  12. relationships that are unsupportive, competitive or demanding

Much of the modern Western lifestyle is aggravating to highly sensitive people. It is not a fault of highly sensitive people but is is a reality we have to deal with.

Why Ayurveda Makes Stress Reduction Easier For Highly Sensitive People

There are so many challenges in modern life that make life hard for highly sensitive people.

I have tried many different methods to become healthier including juicing, vitamins, supplements of various kinds, meditation, Ayurveda, reiki, affirmations and the Sedona Method. I have read many books about health and well being.

I have discovered that most methods are a form of “managing the symptoms.” I did not just want to manage symptoms. I wanted to be healthy.

Being healthy is a different goal than not having symptoms of illness. I have learned that few approaches really get the job done.

Only one that I have found has really helped me to become well and that is Ayurveda.

Why Ayurveda Works For Stress Reduction In Highly Sensitive People

As a highly sensitive person, I need to simplify whenever I can.

Health can be complicated since we are complex beings – particularly if you are highly sensitive.

Ayurveda is the one discipline that actually lets me simplify my health regimen because

  • it is a group of health practices customized to support the highest well being of each individual
  • it is holistic and total.
  • it offers a set of daily practices that let me be at my best
  • its diet strategies ensure that the problems of food in our current world are not my problem
  • TM, the Ayurvedic meditation practice is easy. It relieves stress, heals the nervous system and supports the higher self. I have been doing it for almost 20 years and love it..
  • Ayurveda has a magnificent understanding of food and herbs. Their herbal remedies have helped me immensely.

There is a lot to learn in Ayurveda. Frankly I consider myself a student and always will.

Implementing Ayurveda

I have been integrating Ayurveda into my life slowly over time. I have noticed, however, that the more I do the less I am affected by stress.

I use the following Ayurvedic practices:

  • TM has been especially helpful since I find I am less affected by drama around me after practicing TM for so long. I have been told that it works on the nervous system and heals it, which I have found to be the case.
  • I find that the daily schedule has helped me reduce stress. I like to go to bed around 9PM and rise between 5-6AM.
  • I also like the daily massage, called Abhyangha. It is self massage using oil. It helps with detoxification and stress reduction.
  • the diet is very soothing. When you eat food that is wrong for you, it creates stress in the body. The digestive system becomes weaker and toxins build up in the body. The Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle work to prevent that outcome.
  • There are times when I have had difficulty maintaining the diet for schedule reasons. I have however, maintained a regimen of herbal remedies that support me and help me detox in spite of dietary lapses. The two herbs that I use religiously are triphala and neem.
  • Ayurveda offers herbs for stress. Ashwaghandha is the best known and I take it for stress relief.

I highly recommend Ayurveda for highly sensitive people for relieving stress and putting themselves onto a path that can work to achieve quality of life: something we deserve.

I believe that it is better to put your effort into becoming adept at a health system that eliminates problems that to continually try to fix that which does not work. Micromanaging health symptoms is not the same as becoming healthy.

The best book for learning about Ayurveda as a beginner is Deepak Chopra’s book, Perfect Health. It is a very accessible introduction to an old and skillful health tradition.

I love Ayurveda and hope you will give it a try.

Identity And Thoughts: Changing The Narrative For Highly Sensitive People

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shutterstock_56815777

Do your thoughts drive you crazy?

Do you ruminate a lot and feel that you are going around in circles?

Do you think that your thoughts control you?

What Are Our Thoughts?

Our thoughts are mental pictures that we create.  They often seem automatic and out-of-control. They are a natural consequence of our interaction with daily life and are your way of processing and dealing with what is happening around you and to you.

Our thoughts are our mind’s desire to take care of us. They also are a way of our dealing with the unknown and unknowable. Our thoughts support our assumed identities and try to identify our place in the world. They help us to belong.

Unfortunately, our thoughts often seem to be running our lives.

Why Are Our Thoughts So Painful?

For many thoughts can be very painful because through our thoughts we determine here we stand in life. Our thoughts are essentially left brained operating in a linear way and aligned with the manifested world. They are mathematical and materialistic.

If we identify with our left brained thoughts then we are only looking at a small part of reality and not necessarily what is true.

One of the reasons thoughts can be painful is because they attempt to place us in an identity that works in a world that often has preconceived ideas about who we are and should be.

Our Thoughts And The Cultural Narrative

Our thoughts can be a lot of things. They can be about personal aspects of our lives as well as the public aspects. Sometimes they have a short term focus. Sometimes not.

Most often they seem to be a way of interpreting and dealing with the cultural narrative around us. The problem with continually engaging in this way is that the cultural narrative usually has a life of its own. For highly sensitive people, the cultural narrative is usually about non-HSP life and lifestyles so it is basically not about them.

We can, therefore, feel left out and our thoughts do not necessarily help us with that.

However, we are not here to serve a social structure. We are here to become our best self. Sometimes the social structure and our evolution are at odds and we are not suppose to fit in.

Reclaiming Your Narrative

It is important to have a sense of yourself separate from the narrative around you.

Narratives about life are just stories as the research on human evolution in Spiral Dynamics show. Narratives are the social structure created to support and justify a particular cultural embodiment. They change when we need to change. They are not sacred. One person’s narrative is not necessarily another person’s narrative.

Narratives are not necessarily the TRUTH.

When you try to be a part of the cultural narrative and take your identity from it, you may be creating problems for yourself.

Identifying with the cultural narrative works for many non-HSPs since the narrative usually reflects them.  It may feel wrong that they can be so comfortable in the cultural narrative when as a highly sensitive person you feel like an outsider.

For that reason you have to identify a narrative for yourself or your thoughts will be dominated by ideas related to a narrative that doesn’t suit you and only causes you mental frustration.

Creating Your Own Narrative

Highly sensitive people need to create their own narrative.

We need to separate ourselves from the dominant narrative. To do so we need to make some mental adjustments:

  • see the existing cultural narrative as hanging rather than fixed.
  • align your narrative with the evolutionary process going on around you. That way you support improvements in life and are not simply fighting the existing cultural narrative.
  • notice how your narrative can be helpful to others as a way to help you maintain your ability to connect with others.

When you take back you narrative, you can eliminate a lot of the thoughts you have about your place in the existing system and let your thoughts now serve where you are going and what you are becoming.

It is a great way to stop ruminating and start creating the life you deserve.

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