Highly Sensitive Refuge
A man feeling overwhelmed from carrying the weight of the world

I’m Doing It Again. I’m Carrying the Weight of the World.

How I’m learning, as a highly sensitive person, to stay alert but not anxious.

I’ve been having trouble falling asleep and waking up. I find myself being tired even though I’ve done nothing all day. I find myself so tired that sometimes I can’t even get myself out of bed. Even so, it’s also a struggle for me to fall asleep once I’ve woken up.

My brain, it seems, is operating on extremes again.

When the pandemic became the only thing on the news, I foolishly thought to myself, “That disease won’t get to our country.” But now, here we are possibly facing a month-long quarantine to avoid further spread of the virus.

Staying at home, not having to worry about finding a job for a while, was some form of relief for me, but I knew I couldn’t actually be happy. A few days into the imposed quarantine, and I’m already exhausted. I keep thinking about how the days haven’t been kind to me, how time hasn’t been my friend lately. I keep repeating to myself that one month is going to be a long time, and it won’t fly by easily.

Waking up to a full house of people has been surreal. For the past few months, I’ve gotten used to waking up alone and having to figure out ways to face another day, with no one to talk to about whatever could be weighing me down. Now, I have company, but I’m not sure how to act around them. Should I leave my room and socialize? Should I turn off my laptop and try to watch TV with my parents? It’s been tricky navigating my way around a family I spend my time missing when they’re not around.

With my parents both at home, the news is always on. I can’t stop myself from hearing about new cases every morning. I can’t stop myself from hearing about the death count steadily rising all over the world. And I can’t stop myself from hearing about those who are suffering because of this pandemic, even in ways that aren’t directly related to the dreadful disease.

It’s even worse when I scroll through Facebook and see countless memes, shared posts, and numerous rambles about all sorts of things. It’s chaotic to see so many different sides of the disaster. It’s a nightmare to see so much ugliness unfold in so little time.

Today, I finally figured it out.

I’m doing it again.

I’m carrying the weight of the world.

For Highly Sensitive People Who Are Struggling

It’s no surprise, really. After all, I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) who feels and processes things deeply. I easily absorb the emotions and stress of the people around me. Watching the news or simply hearing about the crisis activates my empathy, even though those involved are strangers.

What’s new is it took me so long to finally piece it together. I suppose it has a lot to do with denial and the suddenness of how quickly things changed in our country. I knew the government was going to do something, but I never would have expected it to be so drastic — and so soon.

Anyway, I would like to take this moment to share some advice for my fellow HSPs who I know are struggling like I am:

1. Lessen the negativity.

It doesn’t have to be something big like donating money for health workers (although if you are in a position to donate, now is a great time to do so) or volunteering to be on the front lines. It can be something small like posting some positive memes to spread good vibes, keeping spirits high at home by initiating wholesome games or sharing fun stories, sharing your resources with your neighbors who might be in need, or reaching out to your local community and asking about what you can safely do to help.  

2. Keep yourself updated.

Yes, I know it’s painful for people like us to pay attention to the news right now. But in my opinion, the only way to keep hope alive is to face the reality of the threat. You never know, the next big news might be good — this crisis won’t last forever.

Make sure to take in the news slowly and carefully, keeping your emotions in check. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of cases steadily rising, take a news break and read a positive article or watch a funny video. You don’t have to be constantly watching the news or listening to the radio — once a day is good enough.

3. Remind yourself it’s not your fault.

You didn’t create this virus, and you certainly weren’t the one who turned it into the pandemic we face today. You may feel powerless, especially if you’re being asked to stay home, but blaming yourself for your current circumstances is pointless.

Remember, if you are staying home, you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re helping slow the spread of the virus and save lives. You’re doing great.

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4. Take advantage of the quarantine slowing down the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Now that you have more free time, you’re free to take it easy for a while. Catch up on books or that series you’ve been neglecting for work or school. Reconnect with friends you feel have been too distant lately, and maybe it’s time to try to rekindle your relationship with your family.

5. Take it one day at a time.

Experts believe this pandemic will get worse before it gets better. The days will be slow, and time won’t be kind to us. There is no reason to burden yourself with the woes that tomorrow might bring, so just do what you can for the day — and keep hope alive for the next.

To put it simply, I want my fellow HSPs to “stay alert, not anxious.” That’s a concept I learned from Doctor Mike, and I think we HSPs need to adopt this mindset. Being overwhelmed and carrying the weight of the world is too much, even for us. So once you’ve taken as many deep breaths as it takes, let’s face this dreadful pandemic in ways only we can.

It doesn’t seem like it right now, but this too shall pass. I know the news hasn’t been helpful in shedding some rays of positivity, but the world has always been an imperfect place, and it is up to us to make up for its imperfections.

I know for many HSPs, it’s a living hell in this terrible time. But we must do what we can to keep hope alive and spread positivity, especially to those who most need it right now.

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