Since HSP brains rarely rest, it’s even more important for us to find ways to feel at peace in the world.
When you search “peace” on Google images, you see gorgeous sunsets, beautiful beaches, flying doves, and people with their arms spread wide in joy.
Those images are lovely, and viewing them might promote calmness — but to me, they’re a bit of an illusion. I know this because I’ve been in picture-perfect environments while still feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or discontent.
In real life, I see peace as an inner state. It’s being able to breathe without tightness in your chest, to let the day go — to see the good in the moment and just exist for a while. That might sound simple, but too few of us feel true contentment. Modern life can make it really hard sometimes.
And if you’re a fellow highly sensitive person (HSP), you probably understand the struggle well. Because HSPs are so perceptive to the world, it can feel overwhelming in endless ways. We absorb the devastation of a grieving family on the news or the anger of someone’s passionate social media post. At the same time, we can’t ignore that scratchy tag on a new shirt or stop ruminating about a critical comment from a coworker that happened yesterday. When you’re sensitive to any stimuli, peace and calm can feel just out of reach.
(Are you an HSP? Here are 21 signs that you’re a highly sensitive person.)
I’ve spent a lot of my life seeking calm. Thankfully, I now know what it feels like on a (mostly) daily basis. Here are some of the ways I maintain peace in this world (and hopefully you can, too) as an HSP.
6 Ways to Feel More at Peace in the World as an HSP
1. Learn what it means to be an HSP and embrace it.
The more you read about HSPs, the better you’ll understand yourself and your needs. Learning from others’ experiences also reminds you that you’re not alone. Many HSPs — before realizing they’re HSPs — spend a long time feeling different from everyone else. But recognizing you’re part of a fantastic community — and among the 20 percent of the population who are HSPs — can bring a lot of peace.
According to a study in the Journal of Research in Personality, lonely young adults had more anxiety, fear of judgment, and other negative moods compared to non-lonely adults.
Basically, we feel more anxiety when we think we’re alone in our feelings. And anxiety equals a lack of peace.
So, surround yourself with information that normalizes your sensitivity. Read up on the signs of being an HSP, common HSP problems, and things that bring HSPs joy. Dr. Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person, is also a great place to start.
2. Prioritize calming activities you enjoy, like listening to soothing music or taking a walk.
It might seem obvious that you should do things you enjoy, but there’s a reason I mention it. Too many of us put off doing what brings us peace and calm. Whether we feel obligated to complete chores, work longer hours, or forgo our downtime for others’ needs (which is common among HSPs), it’s easy to put our own requirements on the backburner. And, over time, that takes a toll.
For HSPs, putting off hobbies is costly to our mental health. Since we are natural people-pleasers, we can quickly become flustered, anxious, and stressed from overbooking. And for an HSP, “overbooking” might involve much less than non-HSPs. For example, I need regular free time each day or else I stay in a heightened state of anxiety.
For me, calming activities are reading and playing video games. Quiet mornings or evenings with a good book tell my HSP brain that everything’s okay and make life’s stressors easier. I used to feel as if I didn’t deserve to take time for these things because they weren’t “productive.” But, now, I realize that rest is productive because it’s crucial for overall health. And since HSP brains rarely rest — even when we’re resting — it’s even more important for us to make time for ourselves.
All that to say, make time for the things you enjoy. Perhaps make a list of three things that bring you peace. What turns off your mind or feels like a secure refuge from the world? What makes you happy? (And it’s okay if these things seem small to others. HSPs tend to favor low-key activities, like listening to soothing music, being in nature, chilling with pets, sewing, scrapbooking, and so on).
Now, how can you fit more of what you enjoy into your daily or weekly schedule? And what can you stop doing or remove to make room for these?
3. Allow “nothing” to be part of your schedule.
Did you know that you can be “busy” while doing nothing at all? If you say “no” to an invitation because you want to stay home and binge Netflix, read, or take a bubble bath, that is more than valid.
To bring more peace into your life, make downtime non-negotiable. You don’t even have to give a reason for declining. If you need time at home to recharge, then that’s what you’re busy doing!
Now, I’m not saying this is always easy. Saying “no” is hard for highly sensitive people. We worry about letting others down, being a lousy friend, partner, or family member. Everyone talks about the need to set boundaries — which is so true! — but it might take time to feel peace about it.
If you’re struggling with saying no, here’s a reminder that you can find peace by prioritizing your own needs first. I find that it gets easier with practice and spending time with the right people. Those who matter should understand that you need time to yourself. You deserve time to rest, recover, daydream, and do whatever else is good for you.
4. Set limits on your “digital input” time.
HSPs care about other people… a lot. When we see suffering of any kind, it sticks with us. That’s rough when you live in a world with instant live news updates and 24/7 Twitter feeds.
I find that limiting my phone time has increased the calm in my life tremendously. When I’m overwhelmed, I’ll delete all social media apps from my phone and only check the news once a day (sometimes less).
5. As much as possible, steer clear of your stressors.
I used to think that constant stress was necessary for growth. And while there is significance in challenging yourself or setting goals, HSPs should proceed with caution. There’s a difference between challenging yourself and putting yourself in situations that don’t fit your nature.
For example, someone with social anxiety might need to work with a therapist to gradually put themselves in people-focused situations. By exposing themselves to their triggers, they can become more comfortable speaking in front of people.
But, unlike social anxiety, depression, or anxiety, high sensitivity is not a disorder; it’s a personality trait that affects 20 percent (or more) of the population. So we HSPs can bring more peace into our lives by avoiding things that aren’t compatible with our personalities.
Many HSPs become overwhelmed in situations with:
- large crowds
- noisy environments
- violent movies
- grating background noise
- too much physical touch
- arguments or conflict
- uncomfortable clothing
When you’re highly sensitive, managing your energy is vital. That means avoiding things that are too draining or emotionally taxing so that you can spend energy on more things that matter to you.
For example, my home workplace is in the corner of my home where I can’t hear my husband’s guitar practice. I also set limits on social media time because I find it very overwhelming and don’t watch scary movies because they increase my anxiety. Even my clothing matters, as I wear cozy, soft material most days.
Once you identify what causes you stress, eliminate as many of those things as you can. You’ll be surprised with how much small changes can make a difference!
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6. Remember that you’re doing the best you can.
I can spend hours overthinking about a phone call or in-person conversation where I felt less-than-sure about myself:
- Did I say the right thing?
- Did I make them feel uncomfortable?
- Do they think I’m dumb or incompetent?
- Why did they move their eyes/twitch their lips that way? (After all, we HSPs are great at reading body language!)
HSPs want to make others happy and comfortable. If there’s discomfort in the air, we’ll feel it. Not only that, we’ll take on the feelings as our own. We’re also hypersensitive to subtle face movements, changes in speech patterns, and awkward silences. This can make interactions exhausting and cause us to question ourselves.
But as I’ve learned from therapy: You are not responsible for other people’s feelings. You’re also not accountable for how other people react to you. The best you can do is your best, and that means being yourself. As an HSP, that probably means you’re sensitive, caring, thoughtful, and compassionate.
Whenever I feel uneasy about my place in the world, I remember that I’m doing the best I can. I also remind myself that character matters way more to me than awkwardness or perfection.
Create the Type of Life That Suits You as an HSP
HSPs may struggle to feel like they have a place in the world, making it challenging to feel at peace. But let me assure you that you’re welcome on this planet just as much as any human. You’re also allowed to live in a way that is authentic to you.
Spend your weekends inside with a book. Take extra rest breaks to reset your energy. Find what makes you happy to do, and thrive in it. Invest in the positive people and things in your life while forgoing what overwhelms you. It’s not selfishness — it’s your personal path to more peace. And, remember: You deserve it, HSP.
What are things that bring you peace? Feel free to share in the comments below!
You might like:
- These 8 Things Bring Peace to Highly Sensitive People
- 18 Things That Fill Highly Sensitive People With Joy
- 3 Things HSPs Can Learn From Artist Frida Kahlo
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