Highly Sensitive Refuge
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7 Ways to Create Peace in Your Home as an HSP

For highly sensitive people, turning a home into a sanctuary is an art form — and one of the most calming things they can do.

As a highly sensitive introvert, my home has always been a sacred space for me. Prior to COVID-19, I always looked forward to coming home in the evenings, particularly on days when I felt overstimulated at work. My space was a place to decompress and provided me with a sense of calm.

But now that we’ve been quarantined for several months and are spending more time than ever at home, there is less separation between work and home. 

Since there is still so much uncertainty around when things will return to “normal” — and when, or if, we’ll actually return to work outside our homes — I’ve realized it’s important that my place reflects a balance between productivity and comfort. Now, I can pay attention to the details of my living space in ways that I could not while rushing to and from work. 

So I’ve taken this opportunity to find new ways to cultivate peace in my home, and here are ways you can, too.

7 Ways to Create Peace in Your Home as an HSP

1. Clear the clutter — getting rid of items you don’t need will help you feel more at ease.

When I first learned about the mandated quarantine in March, one of the first things I did was to clear the clutter in my home. Organizing my space during this time has helped me feel more at ease as the world around me was (and is) in disarray. 

I took inventory of my clothes, kitchenware, and toiletries, as well as donated the items I had not used within the last year. Since quarantine has necessitated a slower pace of life, I was able to observe which items I truly used on a daily basis and which ones were just taking up space. 

For example, I have narrowed down my daily outfits to those that are most comfortable and practical. Most of my meetings are online — and I’m only visible from above the waist — so I have granted myself the ease of creating a weekly “uniform.” For me, that means a week’s worth of comfortable tees in neutral colors and 10 pairs of the same leggings. 

Although it took the pandemic for me to declutter, pandemic or not, it helps us HSPs feel less overwhelmed by our closets and living spaces brimming with items we don’t need.

2. Use soft lighting, which will help calm your overstimulated senses.

Like many HSPS, I am sensitive to light. And, over the years, I have learned that my exposure to light during the day affects how well I sleep at night. 

In the daytime, I rely primarily on natural light and a few lamps in my living room. I use soft white LED bulbs throughout my home, because I have found they work best for my sensitivity to light. After 9 p.m., I dim my lights down to the minimum amount needed to read and complete tasks. This helps get my mind ready to wind down and embrace sleep.     

Some evenings, I also light candles with calming scents, like lavender and vanilla.

3. Create a hygge, your very own space for comfort and joy.

I first learned about the Danish practice of creating a hygge (pronounced hue-guh or hoo-gah) two years ago. The term comes from a Danish word meaning “to give courage, comfort, joy.” 

When put into practice, hygge can be any activity, physical space, or thing that is cozy — not unlike an HSP sanctuary: think hot cocoa and a blanket (preferably with sleeves) while reading a great book next to a fireplace on a cold night.  

My personal hygge consists of a big comfy armchair and ottoman, the softest blanket I own, and a small desk (for my tea and notebooks). I use my hygge time to journal, meditate, and pray. 

And you may also want to experiment and see what colors, sounds, and textures feel best to you. Everything in my hygge is a soft brown, for instance, because that color helps me feel grounded and calm.

4. Set up a workstation — because there’s nothing worse than blurring the lines between your work space and your everyday living space.

At the beginning of quarantine, working from home every day seemed like a dream come true. As an introvert who gets overstimulated by my work’s open office plan, I was excited about the prospect of focusing on my job without interruptions by coworkers or from overhearing random conversations.

However, after a few weeks of working from home, I quickly realized that any practice of work-life balance I had before Covid-19 was fading away. I found myself checking emails at all hours of the night and carrying the fatigue of constantly being online to bed with me every night. 

But, after I created some boundaries, I started to notice a huge difference. For example, something as simple as doing my work at the dining room table instead of on the couch has helped immensely. It allows me to disconnect — at least temporarily — and “leave work behind” as I shift my energy from “work” to “home” during the evening.

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5. Drown out the extraneous noise, which can quickly become overwhelming and distracting. 

With the combination of being home during most of the day, and being an HSP, it’s made me hyper-aware of random noises in my neighborhood: I am more attune to dogs barking, sirens blaring, and subtle sounds of my neighbors’ daily movements. 

To drown out the noise, I have adopted the practice of playing calming music, using a white noise machine, or noise-cancelling earphones when my environment feels too noisy. 

This way, I can better focus on work instead of getting distracted, and sometimes overwhelmed, by the noises around me.

6. Bring nature inside — add greenery, like plants, to your living space.

Most highly sensitive people find peace through nature, and plants are one way to stay connected to it, especially when you can’t get outside. Plus, research has found that houseplants are good for you: they have been proven to boost mood, increase creativity, and prevent airborne illnesses

Plants also add additional oxygen into your home, which is an added bonus if you are spending more time indoors than usual. 

And, in addition to being pretty to look at, plants provide another benefit, too: As an HSP who functions best with routine, I have found it helpful to have another living thing to nurture daily.

7. Curate inspiring art, from putting up your favorite prints to creating your own.

Like most HSPs, I am drawn to art and many forms of creative expression. I have recently added paintings to my walls by artists that are a reflection of me, and whose work inspires me to live authentically. 

You can also get creative and add art to your space (while maintaining a budget) by framing a puzzle you completed, or your own paintings or coloring masterpieces. (Research has found that coloring relaxes your brain, so it’s another great way to destress.)

In essence, the more calm and at peace your living space looks, the more calm and at peace you’ll feel — which is the whole idea. 

I strongly believe there is something in you the world needs, and you can find more of my writing and on my personal website.

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