Superman, Superwoman, and Spider-Man all had to perfect their superpowers, learning to control them without fear or judgment. We HSPs are no different.
A wonderful realization. An emphatic moment. The day it all made sense.
That is my summary of the day I realized I was a highly sensitive person (HSP).
Like many, I experienced years of feeling “different.” I felt I was “too sensitive.” I lived in fear of my seemingly uncontrollable emotions. I fell into a toxic relationship, denying who I was and pushing those feelings down to the very depths of my being. Highly sensitive or not, those feelings always find a way out. But for those of us who are highly sensitive, they tend to SHOUT and not w-h-i-s-p-e-r. At times, it is overwhelming.
I almost reached a breaking point in the relationship for my true identity and potential to start shining through. I read and educated myself as much as possible, sharing every article with my non-HSP partner all the way. It was — and still is — a wonder of discovery. We never stop learning as humans. But as a sensitive person, I just love growing in knowledge and further understanding myself daily. I feel lucky and thankful for what I now see as my superpower.
Loving My Sensitive Soul Through Self-Care and Self-Love
These days, I fully embrace, nourish, and love who I am — self-care and self-love are what keep me balanced. This is essential for any human, but for sensitives like us, it is imperative to function and live to our potential each and every day. It means taking good care of ourselves, even though every fiber of our being wants to put others first.
I am a creative. In my wonderful, whimsical mind, I see HSPs as modern-day superheroes. I see empathy as a superpower. Seeing life in all its vibrant colors and in high-definition is an absolute honor. Superman, Superwoman, and Spider-Man all had to practice, hone, and perfect their powers, learning to control them without fear and judgment. We are no different.
As an HSP, here is my high-flying superhero essential care list. I hope it inspires you to create your own, too.
8 Ways for Your Inner Sensitive Superhero to Excel
1. Have structure in your day (or night).
If you are anything like me, I. Need. Structure… especially when juggling work and two children. On weekends, if there is no structure to my day, I feel befuddled, bewildered, and bemused. When things get to be too much, I schedule days off work for reflection and to recharge, something we sensitive types need to detox from the constant overstimulation we experience. These days help me restore balance as a highly sensitive person — they take me from feeling fried to fresh.
2. Minimize screen time (especially before your brain goes past that point of no return).
Minimizing screen time — especially before bed — is key. Research has found that screen time can wreak havoc on sleep quality (and we HSPs already need more sleep than others!). Plus, screens cause our sensitive brains to get overstimulated, which doesn’t help calm us down. Instead, we need to engage with the outside world to feel grounded and at peace. Less screen time will also help our day-to-day functioning and relationships, as we’ll be more rested and present.
3. Have some “super tools for superheroes” on you at all times.
My backpack is always full of little tools and sensory saviors. For instance, I always carry sunglasses, essential oils, and good quality ear plugs for times when my senses need some respite. See, hear, smell: I just tune into which sense (sometimes all three) needs a little assistance. Essential oils were another light bulb moment (my go-to is frankincense). Delving into the science behind them, they cross the blood-brain barrier and alter our mood, as well as help ground us.
4. Seek out mother nature — she is insanely intuitive.
Mother Nature knows what you don’t know — just immerse yourself whenever (and wherever) possible. It has a profoundly healing effect on your senses, especially if you have reached the point of total brain overload — which can easily happen to us HSPs. Go barefoot and connect to the soil or go for a swim in the sea. Immersing yourself in nature is a chance to reconnect and recharge.
5. Follow a nighttime routine to get your overstimulated senses to relax.
Hey, kids have a nighttime routine before bed, so why don’t we? It just makes sense. Going to bed at the same time every night and setting your own bedtime rituals has a comforting and calming effect on the senses. My 10-minute routine goes something like this (I pick a couple of these to focus on): I do Qi gong (a moving meditation from Asia) and breath work (also known as “box breathing,” wherein you hold your breath in for a count of four, hold for four, out for four, hold for four, and repeat); use essential oils (I put a couple of drops into the palm of my hands, rub together, inhale, and then rub it onto the back of my neck); give myself a stomach massage (if you haven’t heard of an giving yourself an abdominal massage, you are missing out — start off with a clockwise circular motion and then stroke downwards from your ribs to your lower abdomen); recite a calming mantra (such as “I am calm — I have got this” or “I choose to be calm”); take a candlelit, Epsom-salt soak in the bathtub; give the gift of a gentle shoulder massage; read an inspiring poem, and/or journal my thoughts. Sometimes just sitting in silence for five minutes allows my body and brain to relax, too.
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6. Practice a breathing technique, like deep belly breathing.
I like to practice breathing. (I know, it sounds silly, right?) Although we all breathe by virtue of being human and alive, we forget how to breathe sometimes — especially during times of stress. We fall into a cycle of subtle hyperventilation or over-breathing, which means your breath becomes shallower and shorter instead of breathing deeply into your lower stomach.
As a result, this can alter the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in your body, causing a host of symptoms, including digestive issues, exhaustion, anxiety, numbness or tingly areas of the body, chest pain, and even asthmatic symptoms. (I’m just recovering from five years of dealing with digestive issues — appointments, blood tests, scans, and even an endoscopy. But it all came down to the fact I was not breathing correctly!)
Deep belly breathing is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. To do this, be still. Put your hands on your lower stomach. Visualize your stomach as a giant balloon that you need to fill with fresh air, then hold your breath… and as you slowly release it, visualize the balloon, along with any tension, floating away. And repeat.
The breath is one of the three rhythms in our body we can control — the others being your heart and brain waves. Slow your breath and you have the key to calming your entire being, which is imperative for us HSPs.
7. Find your creative superpower.
Everyone has a creative streak — you just need to find yours. Being creative can get the brain into a “flow state” and that is the constant we always aim for. My creative superpowers are: dance (not only is this creative, but it is the perfect antidote to releasing trapped emotions and thoughts, be it yours or someone else’s); singing (which stimulates the vagus nerve and will help calm the electrical activity going on in your brain); coloring; gardening; jewelry-making; making products with essential oils, like bars of soap and moisturizers; painting… I could go on, but you get the idea. So see what sparks your creativity and go from there.
8. Be kind to yourself.
There is way too much judgment in this world, but the harshest judgment comes from ourselves. Your inner voice (or ego) crops up every now and then, introducing unrealistic expectations and drama. (And since we sensitive types spend so much time absorbing others’ feelings, we often neglect our own!) Checking in with yourself regularly and realizing when you need to let up and be kind to the most important person in the world — which is you, by the way — can be extremely powerful and liberating.
Learn to Cherish Your Sensitive Superpowers (and Their Tools)
We are unique humans, and we should cherish our sensitive superpowers. With great power comes great responsibility, after all.
The best part of this monumental moment is how my children — my daughter whose superpowers I sense bubbling under the surface — can see their mother practicing self-care and love. Be it Qi Gong, candle-lit baths, or dancing around the house without a care in the world, I leave the door open physically (and metaphorically) so that they know I need a little switch-off time. But, equally, they are free to join in and embrace the moment with me.
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