Overwhelm and the Highly Sensitive Person

Overwhelm and the Highly Sensitive Person

In the midst of the current upheaval many are experiencing overwhelm. For some this is relatively new, but for a Highly Sensitive Person it’s status quo. Except that now the level of overwhelm may have increased exponentially.

The mandate to stay home and the inability to attend any social gatherings at all in some ways may be a blessing to you…there are no chaotic activities, crowds or multiple competing noises; it’s acceptable now to have a lot of alone time; you don’t have to worry about others’ responses if you decline an invitation. Yea for all of that!

However, you’re likely still able to pick up on the energies around you, both those in your household and the greater community or world. You might find yourself feeling on edge, raw, heart-sore and it might be confusing, since you’re just hanging out at home and soaking up the down time. Even though you may be buffered right now from the usual frenetic pace of life, the energy…the fear, panic, loss, anger can still be affecting you.

Probably one of the most helpful things is to stop listening to the news. The media wants us to react, so we’ll keep watching or listening, so there’s usually a lot of excess, hype and unhelpful comments, and of course there’s all of the ‘fake news.’ I find just hearing top of the hour news headlines on NPR once per day is enough to keep me in the know. If I want to learn more about a particular issue, I can then research it. You can also use something like TheDailySkimm to get those main headlines, in written form with no verbose, loud or misleading broadcasters. And you can pick and choose the stories that interest you.

And listening to other’s thoughts and stories about the pandemic, or their fears, is definitely not helpful. Even if you want to be supportive to others, it’s important to not get sucked into the ‘woe is me’ scenarios or the ‘what if’ game…these can go on indefinitely and create a lot of undue stress. Setting boundaries for how much you’re willing to hear before changing the subject is appropriate and healthy, and you can simply tell your friends or family members that you don’t want to go there.

It’s definitely helpful to increase your daily dose of feel-good information. If you’re going to reach out of your inner world, make it positive and uplifting. I’ve recently discovered the SomeGoodNews network which offers just positive news. And there are innumerable sites and pages with funny animal videos, rescue stories, humanitarian good deeds, and uplifting stories. Watching stand up comedy or funny, happy movies can help. Finding sites with positive thoughts is great.

dog antics

In spite of not being able to attend concerts and music festivals right now, there is a plethora of online concerts and one-off performances from amateurs to well known artists to symphony members. Listening to your own music can be very helpful, but I find it even more heartening to realize how many people are offering their time and skill for the greater good. And it’s a great way to learn of artists you weren’t aware of previously.

If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I recommend meditation strongly…not just now, and not just for Highly Sensitive Persons, but for everyone, always. It’s just that much more impactful now. Personally, meditation has been monumental in decreasing overwhelm and reactivity. A few months after I made meditation a consistent daily practice I began to notice that I could tolerate noises and chaos and disturbing energy vibrations much more effectively. A while after that I realized that I actually didn’t notice some things my HSP friends were troubled by…I’d actually ignored them. I just can’t recommend daily meditation enough.

Of course there are those of you HSPs out there who are not at home taking advantage of the down time, because you’re essential workers, healthcare providers, first responders. Thank you for your work—especially now. For you it’s likely even more challenging to cope with the current situation without ongoing, increasing overwhelm. You’re in the trenches, in the midst of all that everyone is talking about, in the midst of the fear and uncertainty and loss, or at least in the middle of energetic chaos.

For those still going to work, and dealing with the day to day, it’s that much more important to follow your self-care routine and add some of the above suggestions to your down time when you’re at home. Your nervous system really needs some extra care and help in shifting out of fight-or-flight into rest-and-digest. More than ever, you need these practices to remain on an even keel. And it’s important to remind yourself that you need to take care of you in order to be your best and care well for others. Self-care is not selfish, so take care of yourself!

Love and light everyone.

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