11 Ways for HSPs to Overcome Negative Thoughts

A man smiles while he listens to music

Highly sensitive people experience everything at a larger scale than less-sensitive people, and this includes positive, as well as negative, thoughts. But here’s how to tame them.

It’s no secret that highly sensitive people (HSPs) have a more sensitive nervous system than others — and it can lead to an accumulation of negative thoughts. 

Yes, we all have negative thoughts, HSPs or non-HSPs, but we sensitive people are more prone to them because of our sensitive nature, research has found, as well as our tendency to be our own worst critic.

So if you’ve found yourself focusing on the negative more than the positive, try out the below.

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11 Ways for HSPs to Overcome Negative Thoughts

1. Practice various breathing techniques to calm your mind.

As simple and nonchalant this sounds, it’s very basic. HSPs are known to have an overactive nervous system, and, first and foremost, it’s very important thing to soothe our nervous systems and ground ourselves. Watch your shoulders, HSPs, because that’s the biggest cue that your bodies are getting in “fight” mode. 

By practicing various breathing techniques, you can get in the here-and-now and get relaxed. Research has found that breathing can be very beneficial in order to calm down our racing minds.

2. Make relaxation and self-care part of your daily routine.

We HSPs love routines — they help keep us on schedule and more at-ease. So when you add relaxing activities to your daily routine, it’s a way to inadvertently boost your mood. For instance, you can go for a walk in nature, spend time with a pet (yours or a friend’s), read a book… anything that works best for you. When you schedule this “relaxation time” into your day — like at 8 a.m. every day or 7 p.m. — it’ll help make it a happy, healthy habit.

And remember, taking care of yourself is essential as an HSP. So making time for activities that bring you happiness and relaxation, such as taking a bath or getting in a nap. Plus, it is completely okay to take breaks when you need them, for alone time benefits us more often than not.

3. Move your body, whether it’s through exercise, yoga, or what have you.

Our bodies need movement — we can’t just be sedentary all day. Freely moving, whether through walking, dancing, exercising, or yoga, is essential to boost your serotonin levels, the “feel-good” hormones. Plus, movement is one of the biggest tools to get the breath flowing, too, as well as a way to work your muscles.  

4. Engage in regular “brain-dumping,” like journaling.

What’s “brain-dumping,” you say? HSPs need an emotional outlet. Unexpressed, and unreleased, emotions can stay stagnant and cause more stuck-ness than not. The solution? Daily “brain-dumping,” whether through journaling, talking to a friend, or whatever coping mechanism works for you.

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5. Give yourself a massage.

Did you know you can give yourself a massage? Self-massage not only helps open up the flow of the lymph system, but also releases toxins. There are many different types of self-massage out there, whether you focus on the head, neck, feet, you name it. 

6. Practice mindfulness, like through yoga or meditation.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of your thoughts and emotions — without judgment. As an HSP, getting caught up in negative thoughts and emotions is easy, but practicing mindfulness can help you stay grounded and centered. Take a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath, or try a guided meditation to help calm your mind.

7. Engage in creative activities, such a drawing, writing, or a favorite hobby.

HSPs often have a rich inner world and are highly creative. Engaging in creative activities, such as writing, painting, music, or a favorite hobby, can be a good way to channel your emotions and find inspiration. They’re a great form of aesthetic sensitivity. Don’t worry about whether your creations are “good enough” — the act of creating itself is a valuable outlet.

8. Practice gratitude, which will naturally help you feel better.

Gratitude is the practice of focusing on the positive aspects of your life. As a sensitive person, it can be easy to get bogged down by negative thoughts and emotions. But, by practicing gratitude, it can help to shift your focus toward the good. Take a few minutes each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for, no matter how small, like the shining sun or your hot cup of coffee. Plus, research shows that gratitude is good for you — so get to it!

9. Seek support from others (even if you don’t think you need it).

HSPs often benefit from the support and understanding of others who share their sensitivity. But I know — it can be hard to ask for help. However, it’s important, especially if you’re in a negative state of mind. So seek out a support group or connect with others online who understand what you are going through — “community care” can really help. Sharing your struggles with others can help alleviate feelings of isolation, while also providing inspiration and motivation to keep going. Similarly, seeking out role models and inspirational figures can be helpful, too. Maybe they’re also sensitive, maybe they’re not. But read books, watch documentaries, or listen to podcasts about people who have overcome challenges and achieved success — despite whatever hurdles they’ve had to overcome.

10. Set realistic goals and schedule things to look forward to.

Setting goals that are achievable and realistic can help build momentum and inspire motivation. Break larger goals down into smaller, more manageable steps, and then focus on making progress toward them each day. Also, be sure to schedule fun things into your calendar, too, for it’s healthy to have things to look forward to!

11. Focus on the positives.

While it is important to acknowledge negative thoughts and emotions, it is also important to focus on all the positives. This means surround yourself with positivity, whether that means listening to uplifting music, reading inspirational quotes, or spending time with positive people. And, whenever you feel a negative thought creeping in, think of its opposite. Soon, you’ll do this automatically and it will work wonders for your frame of mind.

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