20 Self-Care Ideas for Highly Sensitive People

self-care for highly sensitive people

I’ve only recently started my journey of self-care, and I’m ashamed I didn’t start it sooner. You see, I’ve never liked the term “self-care.” It seems silly that we need a word to affirm to ourselves and others that we’re not just being selfish by choosing to do something good for ourselves. However, I’m beginning to realize that self-care is a necessity, not an indulgence — especially for highly sensitive people (HSP) like myself.

HSPs process stimuli deeply due to a biological difference in their nervous system. As a result, they can be easily overwhelmed and often need more self-care than others — that trait is a core part of what a highly sensitive person is. If you’re a highly sensitive person who feels guilty for taking time out for yourself, remember that self-care ultimately makes you a healthier, happier, and less stressed person. By investing in yourself, you can “show up” better for others and the work you do.

Here are 20 self-care ideas for highly sensitive people.

Self-Care Ideas for Highly Sensitive People

1. Get more sleep

Don’t go without less than eight hours of sleep for more than two nights in a row. I believe this is advice everyone should take, but if you’re an HSP, you might need even more sleep than others because your nervous system is constantly on overdrive, and you’re more likely to experience emotional burnout. Sleep de-stresses and revitalizes your nervous system, giving you more power to function throughout the day.

2. Listen to your body

Make a point of checking in with your body and emotions throughout the day. Notice when you feel yourself reacting negatively or beginning to feel overwhelmed. At the very beginning of those feelings (not after they’ve had time to grow and snowball!), take time out to recharge. If possible, spend time alone, even if it’s as simple as taking a quick five-minute walk away from your work and the buzz of your office.

3. Make friends with other HSPs

Finding people who can empathize and understand your needs is a treasure — especially for HSPs who may feel misunderstood because of their sensitivities and unique way of viewing the world.

4. Get lost in a book

Curl up on the couch and let the power of stories carry you away from reality for a little while.

5. Make art

Even if it’s bad art. Even if you can’t draw/paint/write for anything. Try it and have fun. I find splattering random colors on a canvas and blending them together to be extremely therapeutic.

6. Take a bath

I love steaming hot baths. I fill it with bath crystals and lavender salts and surround myself with candles.

7. Drink tea

This is a routine I’ve recently adopted. I’ve been experiencing terrible insomnia for the past five months and have now gotten into the routine of drinking “sleep tea” before I go to bed, which contains lemon balm, lavender, jasmine blossoms, and rose petals. It smells and tastes delightful!

8. Write

I recently wrote an article about all the reasons I write, and I truly believe writing or journaling is one of the most salutary pastimes. Writing helps me understand myself, my feelings, others, and the world around me. And it helps me sift through difficult emotions, ultimately helping me release pent-up negative feelings and recharge.

9. Hug your dog

Or cat, rabbit, or horse. Animals provide a loving connection and don’t ask too much of us in return. Whenever I’m stressed, I lay on the floor, next to a blazing fireplace with my old dog next to me (or sometimes on top of me) — and her company makes me feel so much better.

10. Eat chocolate (and don’t feel guilty about it)

It’s packed with antioxidants and provides a strong, positive sensory experience for the HSP.

11. Declutter

If you don’t feel relaxed when you walk into your home, scan your environment and change the things that make you feel stressed. Declutter your wardrobe, tidy your kitchen, and embrace minimalism. HSPs tend to be highly affected by their surroundings, so even the sight of clutter can make them feel unnecessarily stressed.

12. Breath intentionally

Learn how to breathe deeply and purposefully. Listen to your breathing. Meditate. Inhale and exhale thoughtfully.

13. Go for a walk

I walk everyday (sometimes twice a day), in rain, hail, or sunshine. Walking (especially among nature) helps clear the mind and sparks creativity. Why not take a hike along your local trail?

14. Take yourself on a date

I recently saw a movie by myself and found it to be an awesome experience. Likewise, I enjoy wandering through art galleries, libraries, and museums alone, because it allows me to take the time to enjoy things that interest and inspire me. The options are endless but the idea is to take yourself somewhere you want to go and to do something you want to do.

15. Listen to music

It’s a source of healing and wellbeing, and has been scientifically shown to reduce anxiety and provide pain relief. I always carry a pair of headphones in my handbag so I can plug myself into some relaxing tunes whenever I start feeling overwhelmed.

16. Remove yourself from toxic people and situations

Being nice and being a doormat are two very different things. I used to fall into the doormat category way too often, especially when I wasn’t feeling my strongest — which isn’t uncommon for harmony-loving HSPs. I went along with whatever people wanted of me, fully owning my reputation as a people pleaser, only to feel annoyed with myself later. I’m still learning to be strong in who I am, to not let people walk over me, and to remove myself from toxic people and situations — and each time I do, it’s an act of self-care.

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17. Exercise

I love exercising. I know I’m probably one of the rare people who can say this but it’s the truth! Exercising is my “time out.” I’ve exercised almost every day for the last decade. I don’t always exercise hard — I often just turn on some music and get moving. I often mix up my routine, whether it’s going to the gym, hula hooping, rollerblading, or yoga.

18. Log off social media

I love social media but know that scrolling through people’s statuses can lead to negative feelings sometimes. It’s like watching a crafted advertising campaign of everyone’s life — shiny and sparkly, presented at its best, making you feel as though you’re the only one struggling in life. A social media detox can be a form of self-care.

19. Travel

Life at times can make you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Taking a vacation or just changing the scenery, even if it’s just down the road, can work wonders. Just one trip away could help change your outlook on life for the better and recharge your mental state. Travel in and of itself can sometimes be overwhelming for HSPs, but there are things you can do to enjoy it more.

20. Practice authenticity

Know what your values are and honor them. Stop looking for approval from others and find it within. Create routines and rituals that fuel your confidence and strength — even if they don’t make sense to other people. Do what works for you. Stop being your own worst enemy and treat yourself with kindness, patience, and forgiveness. This all takes effort but it’s worth it.

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