Note: My new website is now live: http://www.jacquelynstrickland.com
Thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person
by Jacquelyn Strickland, retired Licensed Professional Counselor (since 1993)
now mentoring and coaching for the HSP
1. Search for ways to live a balanced life, including physical, spiritual, occupational, social, emotional, relational, intellectual, and creative. It helps to think of yourself as a “finely tuned instrument” ~ when in tune this instrument can make beautiful music. When out of tune… not so much.
2. Find and practice a creative outlet such as journaling, painting, music, poetry, or photography. This helps to express our deep perceptions of the world around us and is crucial in supporting our unique HSP selves. Unexpressed emotions can create anxiety and tension in our bodies.
3. Examine all your environments. This includes work, home, relationships, family, friends, and geographical location. Become aware of those environments which are supportive of the HSP trait and those that are not. Protect yourself and set firm boundaries. Carefully choose how much personal sharing you engage in with those who are not supportive of the trait, or with those who are not inclined to learn more about it. This is about knowing “When, If, and How to Share your HSP trait” something I have spoken about at the HSP Gathering Retreats and will be sharing in a video soon.
4. Seek employment that values not only who you are as a person, but your unique set of skills as well. This may mean taking a part-time “craft” job that pays the rent and honors your self-care plan, while also allowing time for your authentic and passionate self outside of work. This may mean adjusting your budget to live on less.
I’ve found HSPs do better when following this concept: BE, Do, Have instead of the societal norm of DO, Have, Be. Sadly, many Americans’ unconscious lifestyle choices lead them to live a life of HAVE, DO, Be..thus living beyond their means and creating undue stress. Refer to Dr. Barrie Jaeger’s concepts of drudgery, craft, and calling in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person.
5. Take a Values Assessment inventory, or explore other helpful tools to gain a greater understanding of SELF. Having a strong sense of self helps to ascertain what values are most important to you in your HSP life. My favorite tools for understanding SELF are the Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment. Understanding and honoring your own priorities can help make adjustments to your own (or other’s expectations) of you, whether that be in the amount of money you make, or how you spend time in your daily life. The information my Myers Briggs/HSP Overlay Summer 2021 online class is here:
6. Spend time becoming aware of your unique needs – adopt a motto from the HSP Gathering Retreats “Focus on Needs, Not Approval.” Ask your loved ones to do the same. It is an amazingly freeing concept that has worked well in my family. Identifying your needs serves as a guideline for setting healthy boundaries – an absolute must for we HSPs!
7. Seek out like-minded friends or communities to be with. Find someone with whom you can share your keen observations and depth of perception – preferably another HSP. This works well because our depth can sometimes unduly burden our non-HSP friends to “get” us. There are now innumerable opportunities to connect with other HSPs via social media. This is not the same as in person, but nevertheless, helpful and supportive.
8. Find your optimal level of arousal – being under-stimulated leaves us bored and lethargic – being overstimulated is no fun, and increases the cortisol in our systems. Being outdoors in nature seems to be the optimal state of arousal for me – and it is also the place where I can find solace, wisdom, and clarity.
9. Become intimately familiar with your current or past traumas – whether they be traumas with a capital “T” or traumas with a smaller ‘t’. Remember for HSPs ~ any trauma can be deeply felt. Seeking professional help may be necessary to assimilate this trauma and to heal fully. I’ve found EMDR an especially helpful and efficient way to heal traumas.
10. Spend as much time as possible in nature. Research shows that spending two hours each week in nature improves our overall sense of well-being. Try to enjoy at least 10 minutes of this time in the sunshine as this not only increases natural Vitamin D in our systems but can also help increase our serotonin levels as well. Being in nature n silence only adds to the experience.
Here is my invitation to join me on September 30, 2021, at my Nature as Teacher & Healer event – a full day immersed in nature.
11. Find, cultivate, and nurture your own unique spiritual life and practice. This could include yoga, meditation, prayer, walks in nature, or being part of a local church community your choosing. Prayer has always been a friend to me… I especially love the small, delightful book on prayer by Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks Wow!
Doing all of the above will eventually lead you on your own unique path of HSP self-care. and empowerment. It may look different for all of us, but self-care is of primary importance in thriving as an HSP.
with you on this special journey,