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.

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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!

The Value Of Tension

I think tension can be good.

It is not my favorite thing in life, and as a highly sensitive person it can be challenging, but it  has also made my life better in some ways.

Tension Seeks Resolution

Tension seeks resolution is truth that I have learned from Robert Fritz through his class, Structures, which teaches how to use the creative process to create what you want in life.

One thing I know about as a highly sensitive person is tension. Like many other HSPs who have nuanced perceptions, I often see what others do not, which naturally creates tension.

It leads to a lot of questions:

  • What do I do with what I see?
  • What do I say?
  • What is my responsibility?
  • When do allow events to unfold without interfering?
  • When should I intervene?

These are all hard questions for a highly sensitive person to answer.

Even harder when it feels constant.

Is Tension Dangerous?

I have experienced tension my whole life so I almost feel like an expert on tension.

When I was young other in my life promoted the idea that tension was bad, that it was a sign that something was wrong. So if someone else was unhappy I was the cause.

It meant that I was creating pain and unhappiness for others, which as an HSP I did not want to do. I found this thinking to be a little crazy since I could only do my best and you can’t read anyone else’s mind. Nonetheless, I lived in an environment where there was an expectation of constant pleasure.

The weird thing was that in spite of all these desires and demands everyone was miserable and it did not take much to upset someone. As a creative HSP that was a huge problem since I do not know how to be anything other than creative or myself.

Tension Is Very Useful

In spite of the reactions of others, I have always listened to tension to try and understand it. Most of the time I have found  the tension around me puzzling. I would listen to it, take it on, and trying to understand.

I found it difficult because implicit was an expectation that something should be different, or the tension not there. But how can the moment you are living be anything other than what it is? I scratched my head a lot.  I felt burdened by expectations that seemed misguided since each moment is different with different requirements and needs.

Expecting no tension means that you are actually creating problems for yourself because you are not facing life from reality, but from your imagination. It is one thing to want good things in life, but you have to be in touch with what is going on around you. If you want to make a chocolate cake you do not go to the garage for a ladder. There has to be some relationship between what you are doing, how you are doing it and where you want to go,

There is no magician or wizard to protect you for unrealistic expectations and unwanted outcomes. Is it really someone else’s job?

Tension helps us learn where our desires and reality diverge so that we can figure how to manifest our desires. Expectations are not meant to provide us with a cop-out when we want to avoid the realities of life.

Using Tension Constructively

What I like about tension is that it can feed my creativity.

It can help me see where I am at, what I know or do not know in relation to what I want, and help me develop the tools and skills to make something happen.

Tension is a way of being with what I want that ensures that I do not put what I want on others.

I think that is important.

Using tension constructively is doing something HSPs are good at because we can listen to the gaps:

  • between what we want and what we have
  • between what is said and unsaid
  • between what we know and need to know
  • between what we are able to do and what skills we need

Tension is an important tool that HSPs can use to manage their lives better.

I highly recommend that highly sensitive people try to embrace it to empower themselves.

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 [email protected]

What habits would you add?

25 Ways to Handle Anger Productively

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I observe with slack jawed awe as a customer has a meltdown of manic intensity over an account payment query that would bring the New York stock exchange to its knees—the amount in question? Ten dollars! Like a large indignant toad she looms over the cashier who exhibits superhuman maturity and restraint. Without raising her voice, she smiles and gives a logical step by step explanation of why there is no error.

This information is obviously not penetrating the customer’s self righteous fog so the cashier offers to credit her account. At this, the customer hisses I’m not a charity case! I don’t want a credit! I’m a bookkeeper; this account is wrong; you’ve made a mistake! The cashier points out that it’s an automated accounts system and asks whether she should cancel the credit. Yes yells the customer.

When I walk by twenty minutes later, the combat weary but still calm cashier is asking so can we get this clear? Would you like me to credit your account or not? The customer by this time is the subject of ill concealed humor from others. Her ego temporarily punctured, she whips the printout from the cashier’s grasp and departs.

What Was That All About?

Why expend all that energy making a major production out of a minor issue? Why did she so desperately need to be right while making the cashier wrong? The amount in question was absurdly small so it wasn’t about the money.

Obviously her sense of value was disproportionately dependant on being right. When your sense of value is fragile the propaganda machine inside your head often attributes malevolent intent to people when none exists. I know you’re laughing at me….I know you’re out to get me so I’m going to get you first.

But Anger In Itself Isn’t Bad

Like the stress response, it’s a messenger. Anger has a purpose and is frequently misunderstood. Used productively in the right context, it can be a powerful force for good.

  • Anger helps us draw boundaries
  • Anger tells us what is and is not acceptable
  • Anger alerts us when we’re giving too much and receiving too little
  • When someone’s words or actions make us angry, it tells us what WE need to change to feel safe and comfortable again
  • Anger invites us to look inward—rather than the knee jerk reaction of lashing out.

Don’t Believe Me?

Rewind the movie of your life to a time when you felt trapped, victimized, backed into a corner—and suddenly something snapped “enough! I will not tolerate this! I am worth more, and this has to change now” you screamed. I’m willing to bet that desperate, angry outburst led to a quantum leap forward in some area of your life—a dead end work situation, a painful relationship, an overdue lifestyle makeover or an increase in self value. Anger can catapult us out of a comfort zone that has ceased to be comfortable.

25 Ways To Handle Anger Productively

  1. To derail the momentum of someone’s rage—replace the anger trance with a sudden change of subject, or authoritative command. The verbal equivalent of slapping someone out of hysteria.
  2. Although being disemboweled by a leopard might be more appealing—agree with her, show empathy, invite her to sit down, relax and build rapport you must have had a really rough day…..I know how frustrating it is….this deflates anger instantly.
  3. Count to ten or visualize a tranquil scene….yes it does work! It allows the adrenalin surge to subside.
  4. Instead of reacting like a sleep deprived snake, challenge your perception of the issue; reframe the picture in your mind. Perhaps his intent isn’t malicious. You wouldn’t get mad at a toddler for his limited communication skills, would you?
  5. Breathe—slowly and deeply! It is biologically impossible to remain tense or angry while doing this. Try it!
  6. Anger is a condition in which the tongue works faster than the brain; walk away—mentally and/or physically. It could save someone’s life.
  7. Before radically redecorating your aggressor’s face, press the pause button and ask yourself what underlying fear or insecurity pulled your anger trigger.
  8. Get to know your anger triggers intimately.
  9. Use your mental zoom out facility. See the whole picture, not just part of it. Put things into perspective.

10. If it feels as though you’re trying to reason with a stick of dynamite, hold up a ‘red card’ or ‘stop sign’ to call a halt, while you all cool down and evaluate the situation.

11. Channel your rage into physical exercise—go for a walk, run, ride a bike, dance or pummel a punch bag. Regular exercise reduces the anger impulse.

12. If you can visualize eviscerating him or her, you can visualize floating safely above the war zone in a bulletproof bubble.

13. Toilet train your impulses, instead of exploding lock yourself in the bathroom and vent.

14. When your self esteem is strong, you’re confident about where you stand, so you don’t need to keep ‘growling’ to prove it.

15. Suppressed anger makes you sick. It’s as productive as ingesting arsenic. Pour it out on paper, do some emotional vomiting. You might even end up with a bestselling book.

16. Find constructive alternatives to yelling, swearing, attacking, throwing things or ingesting substances. Have a personal life goal that you are passionate about. Think about it, talk about it, study and research it and work towards it—especially when you feel threatened, overwhelmed and powerless.

17. Laugh! If it’s likely to fuel the fire—lock yourself away and laugh. Use your overflow valve.

18. Talk anger triggers through with a counselor, therapist or good friend.

19. Build firm personal boundaries so that it’s harder for people to pull your triggers.

20. Cut or limit contact with people who are anger triggers in your life. Pump up your verbal self defense skills.

21. Recharge your batteries regularly in a quiet ‘safe space’ that no people or noise can invade.

22. Remember our brains cannot discriminate between what is real or imagined. What you consistently watch, listen to; participate in, focus on and who you hang out with colors the way you react to the world.

23. If you do explode, once you have calmed down—apologize; it costs nothing and has a profound impact.

24. Use your resources—get professional help.

25. Use anger CONstructively instead of DEstructively.

Is Contentment Possible?

How Do You Find Contentment? - HSP Health Blog

Do ever get asked a question that hits you like a ton of bricks?

Years ago a good friend of mine asked me something that I’ll never forget.

At the time I was pretty much all over the place. Feeling emotions very intensely, even taking on other people’s stuff. It was a huge energy suck. At the time I had no idea of my HSP trait. I just thought I was a little crazy.

So when I was asked this question it caught me off guard. Like somebody had “found me out.”

“Are you ever just content?”

Of Course I Feel Contentment!

My first thought when I heard this was to scream out and defend myself: “Yes! Of course I am!” But I knew it wasn’t true.

So I stood there, kind of stunned.

You see, I was truly all over the map with my emotions. I was in college, stressed to the core, and had zero ways to deal with it.

What was so eye opening about hearing this question was that it brought me face to face with just how stressed I was.

I was either really happy, or down in the dumps. There wasn’t much of a healthy middle ground.

Even though I was feeling exposed in that moment, I was grateful that someone had the guts to check in with me at that level.

Where Is Your Contentment?

Now I want to check in with you. Do you ever just feel contentment?

Are you able to be with what is in your life, while still dreaming up whatever is next for you?

Being stressed can make us feel stuck because we are either reaching for the past or the future. Living on an emotional rollercoaster can keep us playing the “up and down” game – happy when things are up and sad when things are down.

But where does that leave you in all of this?

Where is the constant in your life, the underlying sense of “I’m OK”?

And how do you live in that place more often?

Something I love to do to help re-set and actually look at what is going on in my life is to schedule quiet time every day – even if it’s just five 5 or 10 minutes.

Close the door, turn off the computer, silence the phone. Take these few precious minutes to do what feels good to you and recharge your battery. Cultivate the awareness of how you feel when you are about to get into a “burn out” state, and give yourself a break before you begin to get to that state.

If you find yourself easily swayed by whatever’s going on in your life, this is a must. Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.

What else brings you back to center, to your healthy middle ground? Let me know in the comments. Can’t wait to hear.

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.

Feelings—A Sensory Tracking Device For An Overstimulated World

Feelings—A Sensory Tracking Device For An Overstimulated World - HSP Health Blog

Feelings are our sensory feedback system. They provide us with vital information that we need to take care of ourselves and keep ourselves on track. But we’re trapped in a blizzard of ever increasing stimuli.

The sensory pressures many of us are exposed to on a daily basis are enough to kill a cage full of lab rats. Sensory overload is becoming a way of life—but are our biological systems designed for this kind of sensory terrorism?

Overstimulation Affects Sensory Processing

Over stimulation occurs when exposure to sensory experiences is too overwhelming for our nervous systems to successfully process.

Picture a busy street, shopping mall or club where the smell of exhaust fumes, smoke, perfume, sweat, food and ‘fresheners’ compete for air space;voices talking, singing or shouting, screaming children, car engines revving, horns blaring, sirens wailing, the crescendo of jet engines, electronic screeches, burps and beeps, mobile ring tones, the drone of television commentaries and public address systems, deafening music, being pummeled, jostled and pushed in a crowd; the visual impact of blinking lights, rapid video sound bites, speeding vehicles, billboard advertisements, a chaotic kaleidoscope of colors, movement and flashing lights, people dancing or running or vehicles roaring by in a blur.

A relentless flood of sensory experiences like these overwhelming our nervous systems can lead to sensory shut down, angry outbursts or irrational behavior, because we cannot efficiently process this level of conflicting stimuli.

Media And Social Stress Add To Overstimulation

Added to this, the daily news media’s drip feed of tragedy and chaos, destruction, deprivation or looming disasters create a palpable level of mass anxiety.

Now pile more bricks onto this relentless load—intense personal challenges like job loss, financial debt, divorce, abuse, disease or death of a loved one. Add the burden of personal trauma, loss or low self esteem and we have a recipe for emotional disaster. We are creating a culture dominated by stress, tension, and fear—a response pattern characterized by high frequency brain waves termed beta waves. We are functioning on high alert all the time. Our senses are in danger of disintegrating in a sea of excess stimulation, while our emotions become mired in confusion, pain and powerlessness.

No wonder many of us have lost contact with our feelings—a vital feedback system.

Because it’s a way of life, these pressures are incremental and cumulative. They build up over time until we’re caught in a spiral of emotional turbulence—or shut down. And since our feedback system has been disabled, we don’t realize how deeply we’ve been sucked into this destructive vortex.

The advertising media then swamps us with a smorgasbord of chemical quick fixes, to further shut down our sensory alarm system! Unsurprisingly, when greeted with the traditional how are you—we respond robotically, fine—even if we’re in the middle of a meltdown or have succumbed to emotional paralysis!

The truth is many of us no longer know how we feel. We’ve just resigned ourselves to being victims of our environment.

In the next installment of this blog we’ll talk about Reconnecting with your Feelings.

 

Tips For The Urban HSP

Tips For Urban HSPs

As an HSP, I sometimes think I must be truly nuts to be living in New York City, a place that seems like the very embodiment of the word “overstimulation.”

Crowded, loud, bright and always on, it can be a nightmare for the senses.

If you let it.

I’ve lived here for nearly 15 years now, and I’ve found ways to make it work. (I have a bit of a dream writing job, and this is one of the only places I can really do it, which is why I don’t leave, in case you’re wondering. Also, nearly everyone I love is here, which adds weight to the case for sticking around.)

 Attitude For An Urban HSP

I think the lessons I’ve learned as a Big Apple HSP can be helpful for all, particularly those who might be living in other, smaller urban environments. I think you have to start by just seeing city life slightly differently than many. Here, I think there’s often a default attitude of, “Only in New York! Gotta love it!” when, for example, you’re on a crowded train at 9 a.m. and all of a sudden theres’s a mariachi band furiously playing, mere inches away from your face.

No.

You actually don’t have to love it. (I suspect very few people love it, but I applaud their generally optimistic ability to pretend that they do.)

So here are a few of the survival tips I’ve come up with to make being an NYC urban HSP work for me.

Protect Your Hearing

1) Get good headphones, and don’t be afraid to use them.
I’ve always been shocked that so many people are willing to put up with the crappy white headphones that come with an Apple product. They make my ears sore after only a few minutes of listening, and they don’t fit well enough to filter out ambient noise (nor do they stop everyone around you from hearing your music, one of my big pet peeves about public transportation these days: if you’re not wearing headphones yourself, you are more often than not subjected to the contents of someone else’s).

No, I’m talking about getting some of those little rubbery ear buds, or, if you’re loaded, a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones (they’re on my wish list). A little of your own curated music can radically change a walk through a chaotic city street, a subway car filled with yammering people and blaring conductor announcements, or a store where four overly cheerful salespeople come up to you within the span of a minute and say, “How ARE you today? Can I help you find anything?” Just point sheepishly to your headphones, as if they are surgically implanted in your head and totally beyond your control, and move away.

2) If you’ve got a smartphone, get a white noise app.
Music is good in many situations, but I find that when I need to really concentrate on reading or writing something, it’s too distracting. My white noise app is the best thing about my iPhone by far. Mine lets me create my own mixes of soothing sounds: beach waves crashing and light rain! Tree frogs and oscillating fan! Or just plain old white noise. Actually, brown noise, which is softer than white noise. Check it out, you’ll see what I mean. Any of these will instantly reduce my HSP stress by half. It’s also genius for hotel rooms while traveling (more on this in my upcoming sleep tips post).

Protect Your Boundaries

3) Make subway rides work for you. As Elaine Aron might put it, use your boundaries. Don’t worry about everyone else’s feelings so much. My instinct is generally to try to make other people feel good, so I’m not all that comfortable saying no or shutting things down even when I really need a break from human beings (which is pretty often).

But I’ve found that in order to stay sane, you have to just power through that instinct and be a little protective of yourself. For example: when riding on the train, someone sits down next to me eating an egg sandwich. She seems perfectly nice otherwise and part of me doesn’t want her to feel like a leper if I get up and move. But you know what? An egg sandwich smells disgusting, and it’s ruining the precious half-hour of down time I have in the morning. So I’m gone.

Ditto someone who’s having a loud, laughing cell phone conversation next to me. Or twitching just slightly oddly in a way that suggests they might be a bit off. Or wearing pungent perfume. Just get up and move. You’ll feel so much better when you do.

Similarly, when I’m leaving work and someone tries to catch me and take the train with me, I generally come up with a reason to split off (“I have to make a call first,” or “I have to run an errand”). I find that when my subway ride gets diverted into chitchat or small talk, I tend to reach my destination feeling depleted and annoyed, which reduces my ability to be present for whatever my next activity was. So I just find non-mean ways of getting out of the shared subway ride.

It’s best for everyone.

The Challenge Of Smelly Air

4) Get an air filter
One of my least favorite things about New York is the smells. And I’m not even talking about the stereotypical pee and garbage aromas, which tend, in my experience, to be a bit overstated. No, it’s the cooking smells that really do me in.

Apartment building living just inevitably comes with having to share the air with other people who like different food than you, and if you’re an HSP, those odors can feel like a punch in the face. Someone down the hall from me must, I think, own a deep fryer, because nearly every night it smells like Popeye’s in the hallway. This is not OK. This smell makes me deeply sad. But I can deal with it, because I have a pretty decent air filter going in my apartment’s entryway. It also just offers some psychological support, knowing I have a little mechanical sentry between me and the olfactory chaos going on outside my door. (In a pinch, I find that a Yankee Candle also works pretty well. Who knew? But it’s nothing compared to an air filter.)

Bottom line, just because you live surrounded by other people doesn’t mean you have to feel violated by their ill-advised culinary choices.

Create Your Own Lifestyle

5) Get a dog
In a way, this might seem odd advice, because a dog does come with its own set of stressors: they cost money, they require lots of attention, they may wake you up barking at absolutely nothing in the middle of the night. But if you get a good one, they can also offer a brilliantly convenient excuse for getting out of things and living a lower-key life than you might otherwise be expected to do as a city-dweller.

Everyone in your office going out for happy hour, and you’re sort of expected to go, even though the thought of being stuck in a noisy bar making small talk makes you want to bang your head against a wall? Don’t sweat it, you have to go home and walk the dog. Sorry! Additionally, your dog will ensure that you must go on multiple rambles around the neighborhood daily, which is a practice that’s highly beneficial for soothing the HSP’s system. Which brings me to my next tip.

6) Live near a park
It doesn’t have to be Central Park (or your city’s version of Central Park). But if you have someplace you can get to reasonably easily where you can be among trees instead of human beings, that’s going to increase your quality of life a whole lot. (As well as your dog’s.) Go regularly. Go every day. Take deep breaths and always know, when you’re in the midst of the urban circus, that this will always be here waiting for you. Don’t live near a park? Make it a habit to walk through one on your way to work, if you can. Get off the train a few stops early and incorporate a park walk into your commute.

7) Get plants
Plants! It’s like having a mini park in your apartment.

8) When all else fails, Xanax.
Just kidding. (Not really.)

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.