For highly sensitive people, the whole world feels “turned up.” Here’s how to dial it back down — and get the peace you need.
I always felt I was different, even as a child. From the day my mother figured out that we were both highly sensitive, the world just opened up for me. Everything made more sense: I suddenly understood why I’d feel things more deeply than others or cry at the drop of a hat. Once I started appreciating my sensitive qualities, life became easier.
If you, too, are a highly sensitive person (HSP), you probably can relate to how easy it is to get overwhelmed (especially these days). Luckily, however, I’ve found ways to get more peace in my life, no matter how much my emotions may be in overdrive. As a result, life’s been much more enjoyable for me.
These 8 Things Bring Peace to Highly Sensitive People
1. Focus on the people who accept you — starting with yourself.
To feel more at peace, the first thing that I had to do was to accept myself fully and unconditionally. Once I found out about being highly sensitive and did some research on it, accepting myself became easier. I had a name for who I was and no longer felt like I was the odd one out.
In fact, I realized that there was nothing wrong with me and that there was no need for me to become something (or someone) else. I am me because I am highly sensitive, and I embrace the fact and treat it as an asset instead of being my own worst enemy. So while absorbing others’ emotions may get overwhelming, I also love how empathetic I am and how others turn to me when in need.
2. Start understanding both your actions and reactions.
With acceptance came understanding. I started to understand my actions and reactions, and little by little it became easier to anticipate what was going to happen in different situations. This was helpful because it made it easier for me to prepare for potentially uncomfortable situations and I was able to make plans for when things might not work out the way they were supposed to.
For example, for the longest time, it was impossible for me to understand why I sometimes felt immense sorrow simply by looking at a complete stranger who seemed sad. But now that I understand why I might react like this — hello, my empathetic HSP nature — it is easier for me to control my reactions to such feelings.
3. Figure out which coping mechanisms work best for you.
Being aware of our challenges as highly sensitive people is key, and working actively to reduce stress and uncomfortable situations is important. To this point, we HSPs need coping mechanisms for all the emotional overload we experience. For example, I surround myself with things that bring me joy and peace whenever I can (like good books and music), and avoid situations that overwhelm me (like big crowds and very loud movies).
And, for me, sleep is the one thing that is non-negotiable. I have learned that I am not able to function without sufficient sleep, and I do a great service to myself and others by taking care of myself this way. Plus, most HSPs need more sleep since we have a stronger reaction to stimuli more so than non-HSPs.
4. Create boundaries and say “no” to others without feeling guilty about it.
I am very nice and helpful by nature, don’t like to let people down (it’s my HSP people-pleasing tendency!), and strive to overachieve. But it’s very dangerous to say “yes” to every request you get, even though you know that you can’t do something for everyone.
The old me used to say yes all the time — even if I was drowning in my own pile of work — but not anymore.
So having boundaries is a must, especially for HSPs — otherwise, we can get so caught up in others’ lives and problems that we neglect our own.
I made it clear to myself that I know what I can do and can’t do, and that saying, Sorry, I can’t, is enough sometimes. I owe no explanations to anyone, and I have to be able to set these boundaries for myself. I reframed my thinking and stopped thinking that it was selfish to do this. After all, my needs are important, too.
5. Put yourself first. Always.
Similar to setting boundaries and saying “no” to others more often is to remember to put yourself first.
I care a lot about those closest to me; I care about their well-being and want to contribute to it whenever I can. This hasn’t changed at all over the years, but I have learned that I have to put myself first at all times. And you know why? Because I am the most important person in my life. I am in charge of my life and my well-being, and I am able to give more to others when I am feeling well. We HSPs tend to get mentally and emotionally flooded, and we need to regroup before we have energy to expend upon our loved ones.
There is nothing wrong with caring about yourself this much. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring others, being rude, or not caring about them. You’re just prioritizing you and your emotional health and will be there for them when you’re ready.
6. Spend time outside, whether you take a long walk or lie in the grass.
Nature is an elixir for HSPs and a quick way to get a dose of peace. For me, long walks alone help clear my mind when it’s overstimulated. In addition to walking our dog, I take 3-5 long walks by myself each week. I think about everything and anything that is going on in my head and process everything carefully.
It would be nice to be able to empty my head completely during these walks, but alas, as a highly sensitive person, it is not possible. (You know how our HSP minds like to overthink!) However, I get a healthy amount of exercise, and once I’m done, I have clarity in my head and can move on to other tasks or chores that need to be taken care of. Or I’ll find peace at home afterward through hobbies I enjoy.
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7. Focus on the positives, not the negatives.
I used to have a very negative mindset as a teenager and into early adulthood. I’d get discouraged super easily, gave up on things that didn’t seem to work out, and always thought that the things that are possible for others were simply not possible for me. I made excuses and thought I was just the unluckiest person in the whole world: life was not easy for me, I couldn’t achieve all of my goals, and I couldn’t make my dreams come true.
But, these days, something’s changed: I believe in myself, and achieving my goals and chasing ambitious dreams has never been easier. Whatever is possible for someone else is possible for me, too.
Positive thinking has made it possible for me to focus on small victories that make up the bigger victories. I am able to see the good in me (and others) so much more clearly, and because we HSPs pick up on even the smallest things, there is a lot of good to see.
Overall, life is more enjoyable when I view it through my positive lens. I don’t get discouraged when I fail or make a fool of myself. It doesn’t matter if I do any of those things! Failure is a way for me to grow and move forward. It is easier to succeed with the right attitude, and I hope you’ll try it, too.
8. Chase your dreams — despite any fears or hesitations you may have.
I have a lot of fears and I’m as risk-averse as one can be, but that doesn’t hold me back anymore. My life has meaning and purpose when I get to work on challenges at my own pace. I want to achieve big things, and I know I will, if I continue working on my goals using my sensitivity as a strength.
For example, I’ve conquered my fear of flying and traveling solo by just going. I’ve also stopped caring about what others think, I’ve stopped dreading failure, and I’ve learned that good enough is always good enough. I trust myself.
Through acceptance, understanding, and positivity I have found it enjoyable to live peacefully as a highly sensitive person, and I firmly believe that anything is possible and within my grasp.
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