Since highly sensitive people are easily overwhelmed by external stimuli, certain activities are more their speed than others.
If you tend to enjoy quiet, solitary activities over social ones, you might be a highly sensitive person (HSP). We highly sensitive types are easily overwhelmed by external stimuli, like loud sounds, weird smells, and too much social interaction. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find activities incredibly enjoyable. In fact, we appreciate activities that allow us to deeply process our emotions, think about life, bring us peace, and express our rich inner lives.
It’s rare for you to find an HSP at a packed party, a nightclub, or some other loud, busy venue. (And if you do encounter an HSP there, they are probably hiding somewhere in the back or heading home early.) But chances are you will find a highly sensitive person doing some of the activities below. And if you’re looking for new ideas, here are some fun HSP-friendly activities to enjoy.
14 Activities That Are Perfect for Highly Sensitive People
1. Doing arts and crafts, whether it’s drawing or playing a musical instrument
Making or creating something can be very cathartic, especially for those who are highly sensitive. HSPs recharge their energy away from extra stimuli; they need time to process their thoughts alone. Artistic endeavors and craft projects allow HSPs to focus on something physical while letting their mental, and creative, side explore.
Research also shows art has a positive effect on mental health. Humans are creative creatures, and art is one of the most amazing ways we express ourselves. Arts and crafts are also a form of play that everyone needs (and yes, that includes adults of all ages).
Some HSP-friendly arts and crafts ideas include:
- Coloring or scrapbooking
- Drawing or painting
- Journaling, writing poetry, or creating stores
- Doing a puzzle
- Making a hanging shelf
- Sewing, knitting, or quilt-making
- Making paper flowers (fun note: I made paper flowers for my wedding bouquet, and it was such a calming activity as I prepared for the big day!)
- Learning piano or another instrument
It can help to think about what you used to love as a kid. Look up a version of that to do the next time you have free time. You might just discover your new favorite hobby.
And remember: The idea of trying it should make you feel excited for the activity, not burdened by it. For HSPs, that usually means it should be something that lets us “space out” and explore a project alone.
2. Getting lost in a book
My favorite mornings include some quiet reading time with a good cup of coffee. Choose a new highly-rated book in a genre you love or pick up one of your favorites to reread. There are not only a lot of books out there that will resonate with highly sensitive people, but there are also literary characters you’ll relate to as an HSP.
3. Trying out single-player video games
Video games aren’t for everyone, but I think they can be the perfect activity for HSPs who enjoy games.
Single-player video games allow you to play alone without the stress of other players, and you can get lost in a new world while taking a break from your own. Games like Animal Crossing, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon are some of my favorites. They’re relatively low-action and a pleasure to play when you need some alone time.
4. Going to bed early with your favorite pastime
This one comes from a recent personal experience. After a day of extra social activity and stressful work, I was feeling pretty exhausted. So I decided to get in bed early with my Nintendo Switch and play a game in the dark, quiet room. It was such an excellent way to destress in my own little HSP sanctuary, shutting out all other stimuli except what I could control. You could do the same with a good book, a light-hearted movie, YouTube videos, a crossword puzzle, etc.
5. Starting a collection, whether it’s rocks or stickers
While researching for this article, I visited Reddit and was surprised at how many people, when asked about activities they did as kids that were different from non-HSPs, mentioned collecting rocks. Me, too! Other HSP Redditors mentioned stickers, troll dolls, figurines, pencils, and much more.
And who says you can’t collect things as an adult, too? Personally, I’ve shifted my tastes from rocks to a collection of my favorite books. Maybe you collect pieces of art, records, comic books, quotes, wine, concert tickets, or other simple things that bring you joy. Looking for new collection pieces at places like thrift shops or art fairs can also be a fun activity.
6. Doing something nostalgic, like watching a movie you used to love
One of the best things about being an HSP is appreciating the little things. We spend a lot of time thinking about life, including our past memories. A simple smell, sight, or memory can stir up powerful emotions about a long-gone time. While dwelling too much on the past can cause anxiety, HSPs can make the most of good memories through related activities.
If you need a smile, maybe watch an old movie you used to love. Read a book from your childhood. Play a game or do an activity that has meaningful memories attached. Listen to a song that you used to belt out in the car with your friends.
7. Hiking or taking walks in the park
It might sound like a cliché dating profile — “I enjoy long walks in the park…” but getting out in nature is calming for many HSPs. Nature has its own pace, and it’s slower than the hustle and bustle of modern life. HSPs can decompress and calm their inner worrier with quiet walks in nature.
8. Visiting that museum you’ve been meaning to check out
Support local arts or historical centers by going to a museum near you. You’ll probably learn some new things, and museums often have a calming energy that fits HSP brains. There’s truly a museum for everyone out there, whether you’re into history, astrology, or some visiting art exhibit.
9. Checking out a bunch of library books
Head to your local library, wander around, and check out several books that catch your eye. I like to choose books that I’ve never heard about and give them a try without Googling anything about them. From the smells of old book paper to the gentle sounds of riffling pages or quiet typing, the library can be a sensory dream for an HSP soul.
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10. Shopping the $5 section at Target
Target runs are fun because you can browse around people without having to engage. Set a spending limit for yourself, and choose some items in that little $5 section at the front that make you happy.
There are several ways to do this, too. During the holidays, go to the store with your significant other, friend, or family member, split up, buy each other’s stocking stuffers within the spending limit, and meet back up at the front. It’s a fun way to surprise each other with gifts later.
11. Learning about a new topic
Many HSPs get a lot of joy from learning new subjects — it’s one of our superpowers. We love pondering the human condition, what makes people tick, and expanding our minds. Learning a lot about a new topic is a great HSP-friendly activity. Choose something you’ve always wanted to know more about, and get some books or sign up for a course on that topic.
12. Doing solo workouts
Do something good for your body while resting your mind. Physical activities like running, weight lifting, or yoga are great for HSPs because they are solitary. I love going to the gym with my headphones in, tuning out the rest of the world, and lifting weights.
13. Meeting up with a good friend or loved one
Plan a get-together with a person or small group you love being around. Go out to dinner at a tasty restaurant or meet a friend for coffee for some good, meaningful conversation. HSPs rarely do well with last-minute plans, so plan for a brunch or dinner ahead of time. Or, invite friends you’re comfortable with to a board game night with takeout for dinner. The more mellow, the better!
14. Exploring a new city (or your own!)
If you’re not stressed out by travel, make plans to visit somewhere new. If that’s not a possibility for you right now, consider your own city. Look up free events, parks, or other locations that you haven’t explored yet. You might be surprised by what you find!
When you’re an HSP, it can feel like other people are having more fun than you. But these HSP-friendly activities are fun, calming, and enjoyable. Plus, the only thing that really matters is what brings you joy!
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