Every activity comes with an “energy cost.” But it doesn’t have to leave you energy-bankrupt.
Yesterday, I asked my 10-year-old daughter to cut my hair. Yes, you read that right, my 10-year-old whose only experience with scissors thus far was cutting construction paper or yarn. In a moment that can only be described as folly, I gave her a pair of professional-grade scissors and asked her to cut a wee bit off the bottom of my hair. Then I sat down and relaxed.
The next thing I knew there were long seven-inch strands of hair on the floor. And, since mama said to cut the hair even, she chopped off the rest of my locks to match the shortest layer. Eek.
How does it look? Well, like a 10-year-old cut it. But to tell the truth, it’s not the worst look I’ve ever had — it was convenient at least, and the price was right. It was a lockdown low point, and you may ask me: why did I let her do it?
Because I’m doing all that I can to keep my energy high.
As part of that, I’ve been very aware of who I spend my time with, and where I go, and in this case that includes hair salons. For you, the places that affect you most may be different, but either way: As a highly sensitive person (HSP) I take on other people’s feelings and energy like a sponge mopping a spill off the counter. And right now, we are collectively experiencing loads of fear, anxiety, and anger. That’s a huge spill for HSPs to sponge up.
It’s crucial that we all take care of ourselves right now. I know my highly sensitive friends are doing everything they can to keep their energy high. They are taking long walks, meditating, listening to uplifting music and lectures. They are taking good care of themselves and their loved ones. They keep refuelling themselves. They are doing lots of work feeling their feelings and releasing them as needed. They are also speaking to themselves with as much compassion, patience, and love as they can. They are being “HSP smart.”
With the world reopening, we may be feeling some anxiety and wondering if it’s really safe. Many non-HSPs are gung-ho to get this party started, and kick start the world back to the way it was before. It’s a lot for a sensitive person to navigate.
So how do you stay calm, balanced, and with your energy at its best? Everyone’s self-care routine is different, but no matter what makes you feel energized, here are three principles that I believe will help you sail through the reopening more smoothly.
3 Ways to Keep Your Energy At Its Best
1. Healthy in, healthy out.
My intense intention right now is to be as healthy as I can be. You may not be able to control who’s following post-lockdown protocols and who isn’t, or how many people get vaccinated, but you can take steps to prioritize your own health.
I think of it as putting health into my system to get health from it — every day, in a myriad of ways. There are the regular suspects like nourishing foods, lots of water, and early bedtimes; and the practices that make my heart sing like soulful music and a cup of tea in the morning light. I speak to myself with love and treat myself with kid gloves.
This is not the time for perfectionism and self criticism. We HSPs learn easily with gentle encouragement, and respond beautifully to unconditional approval. That is as much a part of “health” as the foods on your plate.
My intense intention is also to take care of my family, my community, and my world in ways that honour who I am as a highly sensitive person. I’m not the best candidate for a large noisy rally as an HSP, but there are loads of other ways I can contribute and be of service. I can be a warrior for love in a way that’s HSP-smart. I can make a significant contribution right now by keeping my energy up so that I am able to be of service to others. The rising tide raises all boats in the harbor.
I’ve been staying away from grocery stores during peak hours, public places, zoom calls with certain groups. This includes some relatives when they are in a particularly bad mood and are looking to have a good “dump.” You know what I mean — it’s when a person decides to dump it all on you, like a dump truck unloading trash. They purge their feelings, stress, and anger in a barrage of incessant talking. They walk away feeling lighter, and you slink away carrying their burden. Dr. Judith Orloff, the bestselling empath author, calls this kind of person an energy vampire because they suck the emotional energy right out of you. HSPs are particularly yummy to these people. Our empathy makes us targets as we listen deeply and care.
Noting and withdrawing from the people (or places) that make you feel energy drained is part of putting health into your life.
2. Know the “cost” of something before you do it — and choose accordingly.
Navigating the present circumstances of the world doesn’t leave me with loads of extra energy. There are activities and people that I just cannot afford. They are just way over my daily energy allowance. The other day, I brought my daughter to a ski resort to go snow tubing as a special treat. It was fun, but loud and way too stimulating. I was so toast after that excursion you could have buttered me right up and served me for breakfast. I kind of limped through the rest of the day and was in bed by 8 pm.
Like a cell phone, I have a certain amount of power until I am done — before I get overwhelmed and am in serious need of recharging. Right now, leading my right life, one in which I am healthy, calm and at ease, doing my work, and caring for myself and my family, takes most of my daily power. There’s not that much left over for extras. Even fun activities, like the snow tubing, come with a price.
You know what I’m talking about here, right HSPs? It’s going to cost something. The question is, is the price worth it to you? Is it worth saying yes when you mean no? Can you afford to speak with that person right now?
The answer may be yes, that it’s worth whatever it costs, but it’s good to be aware of the impact it has on you.
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3. Know what refuels you — and put it first.
On the other end of the spectrum are the people, places, and practices that fill us right up, and recharge us. I’ve been spending as much time as I can in nature and with other HSP kindred souls (mostly on zoom). If you give me just 20 minutes — the time it takes for an overwhelmed system to calm down — sitting next to a tree outside, I’m a new person. I can spend long moments with my meditation peeps and come out feeling fine, energized, and centered. Having tea with my friend Teresa, a powerhouse of positivity and love, gives me a boost. What about you? What keeps your vibration high?
I think there’s no getting around the fact that I’m really going to have to visit the hair salon (trusting my darling daughter again might leave me bald!) but I’m going to do it HSP-smart. I’ll make sure it’s a small place with few stylists and customers. I’ll go first thing in the morning when the energy is high. I’ll take a pass on gossip with the stylist, or negative talk that brings my energy down. I will do all that I can to honor myself and my needs as a highly sensitive person. I hope that you will, too.
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