We highly sensitive humans have special qualities that both bring us triumph and cause us turmoil. Our rich inner life and emotional nature make us intuitive, creative, and compassionate; however, our delicate nature at times also causes us to feel overwhelmed and exasperated with the chaos of the modern world. English poet William Wordsworth perfectly summed it up when he wrote, “the world is too much with us.”
HSP, if you’re feeling like the world is “too much” for you, then it’s time for some pampering and self-love. Here are seven small ways I treat myself; perhaps they will bring you comfort, solace, and rejuvenation as well.
Self-Care Ideas for the Highly Sensitive
There’s something about the mystique of a candle flickering in the dark that comforts my highly sensitive soul. Add a pleasing scent and, even better, a crackling wood flame, and I’m instantly transported to my “happy place.” Forever an “old soul” — as many highly sensitive people are — my spirit leaps at this small luxury. Perhaps the otherworldly and enchanting aura of the past reflects itself in the flame, and somehow this small item acts as my porthole into the sanctuary of another time and place.
Even better, it allows me to inhabit other, more immediate sanctuaries — my inner selves, my imagination, and my crucial need for quiet reflection.
Highly sensitive souls are deeply sensual and have an appreciation for anything that brings us closer to our emotions. Sonya Rykiel, French fashion designer and writer, perfectly explains the allure and intoxication of fragrance:
“Perfume is like a parenthesis, a moment of freedom, peace, love and sensuality in between the disturbances of modern living.”
Sensitive souls like you and me need this olfactory vacation; we’re bombarded throughout the day by unpleasant smells, and due to our deep processing, we run the risk of becoming smangry. A rich fragrance, on the other hand, quiets my inner mania and rebalances my equilibrium.
In addition, perfume adds a fantastical element to the mundane world I sometimes feel trapped in. As HSPs, our vibrant inner world is usually far more intriguing than the outer one. The added sensory aspect of fragrance enhances the drama of my surroundings, bringing a touch of charm to the day-to-day drudgery.
Poet Anaïs Nin once said:
“Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.”
Her words could be applied to highly sensitive people as well, as we think deeply, crave downtime, and cherish calm.
Books help me find this center. Through immersing myself in the life and thoughts of others through literature, I come closer to understanding myself and my world. I use the lessons gathered in their pages to unravel the intricacies of my own psyche and the complexity of the souls who wander through my world. This thirst for understanding preoccupies all HSPs, and a book is a cool drink of water for our parched souls.
4. Anything soft or fuzzy
Sometimes my HSP need for inner tranquility translates into an odd texture fetish: for example, brushed cotton pajamas, a wooly sherpa blanket, the cool slick touch of silk, or the comforting warmth of cashmere. These make my heart beat a little faster — in a good way. Why? Perhaps they remind me of the security of the womb, soft, safe, and snug. Being nestled in a cocoon of tranquil textures calms my anxiety and provides a soothing barrier from the harsh chaos of the world.
Looking for good words to describe the highly sensitive soul, I came across one that seems to sum up the needs of most of my tribe: Epicurean. In its modern day usage, it means indulgence or the desire for the extravagance of sensual pleasure. For those most attuned to their inner identity, music provides this luxury. For me, it is the soulful piano melodies of Chopin. For you, it may be the hypnotic notes of Billie Holliday as she croons to a provocative jazz rhythm.
Everyone’s preferences in music are different, but its curative powers remain universal. Music speaks to my sensitive soul, mirroring my emotions or acting as a soothing balm. At times, I, like many highly sensitive souls, feel there are so many different sides of me struggling to coalesce, and music speaks to each of these warring factions, somehow bringing them into balance.
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“Silence is golden” is never more true than for the highly sensitive soul. Chatty coworkers. Crying babies. Arguing children. The endless stream of outside noise can chip away at our limited energy. I have to have a “time out” of sorts, and a few moments of silence can do wonders to alleviate my struggles.
A white noise machine (or one featuring gentle ocean sounds) can take the bite out of the auditory overload we HSPs often experience. Less glamorous but still helpful? Noise cancelling headphones make the ambient sounds of the workplace or subway less taxing for me.
But the best case scenario for those willing to pay more for a peaceful interlude? My best “me” gifts are giving myself up to the pleasure of a weekend trip to the mountains or a quaint bed and breakfast near the ocean; there’s no better balm for overstimulation than switching from sounds of screeching traffic or police sirens to the quieting murmur of ocean waves or the lulling sounds of a babbling brook.
7. Mix and match the above ideas for self-love success
These are some ideas that thrill my highly sensitive soul. Brainstorm your own similar options that evoke the pleasures of the senses. For example, instead of perfume, you could purchase an aromatherapy diffuser which radiates the calming scent of lavender or the comforting essence of chamomile. Add more pleasure by investing in a soft, velvety, weighted blanket — perfect for those who have anxiety because the added weight calms the muscles and hugs the user in a swaddling effect.
Whatever the treat, rest assured it will be perfect if it speaks to your senses, promotes beauty and balance, or entices the emotions. Happy hunting, and may you find the peace your highly sensitive soul deeply deserves.