You are bothered by loud noises, big crowds, strong smells, sirens and scratchy fabrics. You avoid violent TV and movies. You notice details in your environment that others don’t. You’re sensitive to the shift in others’ emotions. You have a deep appreciation for music or the arts.
You try your best to avoid making mistakes. You startle easily. You get overwhelmed when there’s a lot going on. When someone is watching you complete a task, you get nervous and do worse than if they weren’t. The same happens when you have to compete.
You have a rich, intricate inner life.
If all or some of these descriptions feel accurate and authentic, then you’re a highly sensitive person. Knowing this about yourself can help you create a nourishing self-care routine. It can help you honor your innate tendencies every single day by how you choose to navigate your day. Below are some ideas to start:
- Create a home that soothes, calms and inspires you. Create a home that feels like a sanctuary. This might mean decluttering so you have a lot of white space. It might mean having soft sheets and thick curtains in your bedroom to block out the blaring, glaring light on some mornings. It might mean sleeping under a weighted blanket. It might mean having flowers and plants in every room. It might mean surrounding yourself with calm colors like ivory, baby blue, mint and silver.
- Be outside as much as possible, whether walking around the park or sitting on the beach, breathing in the salty air.
- Carve out 10 minutes each day to put on your headphones, play your favorite music, and write about your thoughts, feelings, worries, longings—anything that’s on your mind. If you have more time, dig deeper and explore why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling.
- Every morning, right after you wake up, take a few minutes to jot down what you remember about your dreams. You could simply make a list. Our dreams are often a window into what’s inside our hearts. They also often don’t make sense. But one place to start is to focus on how you were feeling in your dream. Plus, after a while, you might review your lists and pick up on certain patterns that are telling.
- Soothe your senses by putting lavender essential oil on your pillow, or having a diffuser, or lighting your favorite smelling candles. Be thoughtful about the scents in your home.
- Buy clothes that feel soft and comforting on your body.
- Find ways to seek solitude throughout the day, whether it’s an hour to visit a museum, 5 minutes to sip your favorite kind of tea, a few minutes to listen to a guided meditation, or a minute to close your eyes and take deep breaths.
- Unplug regularly, so you minimize the noise you’re consuming and no doubt internalizing. If it’s possible, unplug for an entire day, and take a digital Sabbath. Give yourself the space to clear your mind.
- Move your body in ways that rejuvenate and refresh you. This might be anything from dancing to taking gentle yoga classes to savoring solo runs to riding your bike. Play with different activities and approaches. Find what brings you joy and calm, which will be different for everyone.
- Build in strong boundaries. Decline invitations that don’t nourish you. Say no to events that will overwhelm your schedule, and thereby overwhelm you. Spend less time (or no time) with people who drain you. Think about where you feel uncomfortable or uneasy in your relationships. Think about where you feel resentful or exhausted or even angry. Those are probably signs that a boundary is needed.
- Make things with your hands. Make a collage that’s inspired by how you’re feeling today. Start sewing. Use a coloring book. Buy modeling clay for kids and form all sorts of shapes and sculptures. Such activities also give us space and let our minds breathe and roam without the noise of social media or email or internet altogether.
Think about your daily needs around sensitivity and how you can honor those needs. After all, all sensitive people aren’t the same. We have things in common. But we also have specific needs (and qualities and yearnings). Reflect on what those are for you, and how you can tend to them.