How to Recharge Your Emotional Battery as a Highly Sensitive Person

A highly sensitive woman relaxes and listens to music

You go above and beyond for others’ emotions. You care. You help. You hold their hand. But if you’re the one who needs a boost?

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) experience heightened sensitivity and responsiveness to the world around them. Everything can become overwhelming for an HSP, from external stimuli, like sounds and sights, to social interactions and feeling others’ emotions. That’s why HSPs often need more time than other people to “recharge” their social, mental, and emotional batteries.

How you recharge as an HSP can also depend on your current needs. As a sensitive person myself, I use different activities as self-care based on how I’m feeling and what has me feeling the most drained. 

Here are some ideas for how HSPs can step back from the chaotic world, recenter, and recharge their energy meters.

15 Ways HSPs Can ‘Recharge Their Batteries’

1. Read books you enjoy.

This is a personal favorite, but I have seen many other HSPs mention their love of books, too (whether it’s in person or on an online forum for HSPs). 

If you enjoy reading, diving into a good story can help you escape from reality for a while and fill up your energy tank with a story different from your own. 

Nonfiction books can also be a fabulous way to stimulate your mind in a controlled setting, away from the unpredictability of other things or people. You can learn new things and process the information as you’re recharging. 

2. Minimize external stimuli.

External stimuli include touch, tastes, smells, sights, and sounds. 

You might not think having that TV on in the background or that itchy sweater on is a big deal, but for HSPs, it can be just another factor that makes it difficult to relax. 

3. Doing something creative or artsy.

Art is sunshine for the mind. 

Taking a creativity break also helps us get into what’s known as a flow state — where you’re blissfully lost in what you’re doing. A 2018 research article published in Frontiers in Psychology describes flow as “a sense of intrinsic reward experienced during immersive engagement in an activity.”

For HSPs, creative flow gives us a break from the outer world as we fearlessly express our rich inner lives alone. 

So, when you need to recharge, do something creative. It doesn’t have to be complicated (or even “good”) — use an adult coloring book, make a collage or mood board, or buy some cheap paint supplies and draw something meaningful to you (whether it’s abstract or specific). Writing, sketching, graphic design, singing, dancing, and playing music are just a few additional examples of creativity that can bring you much joy while also helping you recharge.

4. Play a one-player game (or anything that fits the definition of “play” for you).

Play is important for all creatures, including highly sensitive humans. However, some forms of play might be too stimulating for HSPs trying to recharge. That’s why I like playing things alone (and quietly).

Playing video games is one of my favorite recharging activities. I prefer one-player platforms or multi-player games that do not require a lot of brainpower (think: Mario Kart). I can immerse myself in a rich, colorful, fictional world for a while as I amp up my HSP battery life.

If video games aren’t your thing, you might try one-player card or board games, whether they’re on a phone app or in person. Just keep in mind that “playing” is key.

5. Move your body in the way it most needs movement.

When I’ve been too sedentary, I start to really feel it in my body, and it leads to anxiety. It might seem strange to talk about recharging by moving more, but this can be a powerful activity for HSPs. 

Going for a walk, run, bike ride, hike, or some other form of physical activity can help you get revitalized in different ways. If you’ve spent too much time in your own head lately — hello, overthinking! — exercise can help you focus on the things outside of yourself, like nature. And another benefit is that exercise can also give you time to mull over something in your mind without worrying about distractions from other people. 

Stretching counts, too! I’m someone who enjoys the gym, but sometimes I really just need a nice yoga flow instead of a sweaty gym session to feel my best again.

6. Take deep breaths.

Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, helps improve cortisol levels and stress-related factors. 

And how many of us go through our days taking shallow, stressed-out breaths? HSPs might do this without even noticing, as daily stimuli and being around other people can leave us on high alert all day long. By the end of the day (or in the middle of the day), this is really draining.

Deep belly breathing can help engage your parasympathetic nervous system, which activates your body’s “rest and digest” state. So, when you’re trying to recharge, set a timer for anywhere between one and five minutes, sit still and quiet, and focus on taking big inhales and exhales. 

7. Ask a loved one to talk.

HSPs tend to process hard or emotional situations alone before talking about them. But, sometimes, you just need to verbalize what you’re dealing with. Then you can let it go for a while and rest your mind.

Sometimes, I just need my husband to listen to what’s been going through my head and offer another (loving) perspective. Although doing this can be draining, it can also feel like a weight has been lifted. 

HSPs struggle to ask others for help, so this one might seem challenging. It helps me to say something like, “Can we talk tonight? I feel like I need to vent.” Or friends who need to let it all out will text me something like, “Can I vent about something that’s been bothering me for a second?”

8. Or talk to yourself. (Or write it all out.)

No one around to talk to at the moment, or not feeling up to asking for someone’s time? I get it. That’s why I also sometimes recharge by talking to myself. It might get some odd looks from my dog, but it works! I’ll just speak out loud what I’m feeling and what I need in that moment. 

Another option is to write this down by journaling – it’s another way to “talk” to yourself! And journaling has many benefits, from calming you down to helping you process your emotions.

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9. Tell others you need some space and alone time.

Since our brains process information more deeply than others, we can get overwhelmed more quickly — and, hence, need more space to reset. 

Non-HSPs might not understand why, some days, answering a simple text feels like walking through quicksand. But we can help them know our boundaries by explaining we just need more space sometimes. We can reassure them that we still love them and want them in our lives, but we need extra time to answer a text, call, or email — or we need a weekend alone.

10. Remove energy-zapping items from your home.

This can include spending a few minutes decluttering your HSP sanctuary space or removing certain items from your home over time. 

Do you feel relaxed when you walk in your door and spend time in your home? If not, some of the items might be contributing to your stress. 

Maybe you have old coats still hanging up from last winter, bills piled up on the kitchen counter, or items on your coffee table that don’t have a set place yet. 

Even if you don’t get rid of them right away, you might put them in a box out of sight. Spending a little time organizing and putting things in designated areas can make it easier for you to recharge when you get home.

11. Put on feel-good or calming music to enjoy by yourself.

Some of my favorite chill music is lofi hip hop, which I listen to on YouTube. You might prefer something else relaxing, such as piano or classical music. Research, too, has found that calming music is soothing for HSPs. So as you sit and listen, you’ll naturally decompress and recharge.

12. Open the window (if the weather allows).

HSPs often seek refuge in nature, according to psychotherapist Dr. Elayne Daniels. Many of us deeply appreciate the sights and sounds of plants and creatures. Simply opening your window — or going for a short walk outside — can help you reset.

13. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and strengths.

I recently applied for some jobs and had to spend time thinking about what I’ve accomplished in my professional life. I was surprised by how many things I could come up with — many I had completely forgotten about. 

Reminding yourself of what you’ve achieved can be a powerful recharger.  

And this goes beyond career stuff — strengths and accomplishments can be anything from simple to complex, such as running a 5k, being a great listener, empathetic, a wonderful mom, friend, or anything else that brings meaning to yourself and others.

14. Silence your phone apps, close out your email… maybe just turn off  your phone altogether.

Social media is a time suck for anyone, and it’s often incredibly draining for HSPs.

We all know the feeling of opening the Instagram app to check one thing, then realizing we’ve been mindlessly scrolling for 30 minutes. And since HSPs think deeply about everything, we’re often comparing ourselves to others or having strong emotional responses to posts we see. The entire process is very draining — even though we’ve not moved from the couch.

So, if you want to recharge, consider turning off your phone altogether and doing something offline and more productive… yet relaxing.

15. Remember: You are not responsible for other people’s emotions.

This last one isn’t a physical action — it’s about your perception. Since HSPs feel others’ emotions strongly (and often mirror them), it’s easy to get caught up in worrying that you were too snippy with that grocery store cashier or aren’t doing enough for those around you. 

HSPs can help themselves relax by recognizing that they don’t have control over how other people feel. For Lauren Novak of Find Your Magic as a Highly Sensitive Person, that looks like a nightly ritual: “I’m an oracle card reader, so I tend to pick up other peoples’ energies a lot more when I do readings. My favorite way to recharge is by taking a bath or shower at the end of the night and releasing any energy that’s not mine.”

All we can do is our best, and most of us go above and beyond for others’ emotions. It’s okay to take time for ourselves and prioritize our emotions, too. And sitting with that fact is its own version of recharging and releasing some of the world’s weight we tend to carry.

And I’ll end with this: Remember that it’s okay to stop, relax, and recharge. In fact, it’s a necessary part of self-care and being your best. If you don’t take time to relax, you can’t fully engage with life. HSPs often need more of this recharge time, so hopefully, these ideas can help you recharge your own batteries whenever you need them.

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