Strategies for the Highly Sensitive Person

by Rebecca on January 11, 2015

Highly Sensitive Person
A few weeks ago, I introduced the term “Highly Sensitive Person” which deeply resonated with me because though I am extroverted I have many traits of a Highly Sensitive Person. After talking to many of my colleagues, I believe there are a lot of HSP’s in veterinary medicine (visit the author’s site to find out if you’re a Highly Sensitive Person)

Given how much energy we must put into our jobs as well as all the other demands we have in our lives it is a real challenge to find the time to take care of ourselves. You can get away with that for a short while but over the long haul if you don’t take care of yourself you will not be good to anyone.

Here are four things that have helped me cope with the constant demands of life and work as a Highly Sensitive Person.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is such an easy thing to compromise especially being a working mother. I used to pride myself in how little sleep I needed which I now know is completely ridiculous. If the average person needs at least 7 hours of sleep in order to not be irritable and to be able to focus more than likely the HSP who gets so much stimuli during the day needs more.

I know I do best on 8- 10 hours of sleep. No, 10 hours is not realistic during the workweek but if I feel like I need more when I am not working, I no longer feel guilty about sleeping longer.

Embrace Routine

I used to think having a routine was boring! As you are grasping, my self-awareness has not always been very good :). Getting up about ½ hour before everyone else in my family and spending time thinking and reading has done wonders for me. Those mornings I do not do my morning routine, I feel “out of sorts” all day.

I have learned to embrace routine in as many areas of my life as I can — both at work and at home. Constantly making decisions is very draining so having routines in place can save my energy for times that I must make decisions.

Plan decompression time

One of my goals last year was to stay off my iPad once the kids and I got home from school/work. What I have realized is I need about 30 minutes of “down time” once I get home from work. Though many would argue that surfing the web is not down time- for me having 30 minutes to catch up on the day or reading a book is huge. I have always felt guilty about doing this but it really gives me a chance to recharge before all the evening activities get underway.

Control Clutter

This is huge for me. Do not get me wrong I am not an organized neat freak (though at times I wish I was 🙂 )! What I do know is if I get home from work and the house is a mess — it turns me into a mess. With kids and animals, messes are inevitable but I actually have someone who comes over most days and tidies up the house before I get home. This may not be an option for you, but taking 5 minutes in the evening or 5 minutes before you leave the house in the morning to clean up the chaos can make for a much more pleasant time when you get home from work. If your partner leaves for work after you do, this can be a great thing for them to do!

Do you feel like you are a HSP? If so what self-care strategies have helped you, please leave a comment below — we would love to hear from you!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Robyn January 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Oh, Rebecca, you know how this describes me!

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Robyn January 12, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Wait–I had a long reply in there and it was shortened to just one sentence. At least it’s an accurate one…

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Hilarie January 13, 2015 at 7:05 am

I completely agree! All of these suggestions are so valuable to helping an HSP like me feel more relaxed and happier! I have almost a solid hour in the mornings to read, write letters to friends, and have quiet time. As you mentioned, routine is very important. It took me a long time to understand that because like you, I thought being stuck in a routine was limiting. I was so wrong! It gives me back a little bit of control in a world where everything seems unpredictable. I have also found that I need that routine all of the time, not just during the work week. If I sleep later than usual on the weekends than I do during the week, I feel awful all day. I have had to learn that to be the best person I can be, I have to stay on routine even on my days off – and it makes a huge difference.
I find it so interesting that you have so many qualities of an introverted, very organized neat freak and yet you aren’t one! I fully admit to being both of these – big time.

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Rebecca January 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

Haha you are right Hilarie- Robyn and I talk all the time about being enigmas- it is a challenge to know yourself when you are all over the map!! I so agree with you about the weekends- I am exactly the same way!

Thanks for commenting!

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Marie January 13, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Not sure if I am a true HSP but I do have some of the traits that you described in your previous blog. (I definitely do not like to be overly stimulated). But your suggestions for coping are great for anyone (HSP or not). It is essential to take time for yourself. I recently discovered “allowing” myself to take time away from the hospital on a monthly basis has made such a difference with coping with the daily demands. I have allowed myself to enjoyed this time off without feeling guilty.

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Rebecca January 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Amen to that Marie- I have to have good boundaries in place! Glad that making that change is working well for you!

Thanks for commenting!

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Vet Changes World January 13, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Great ideas! Just had a fellow friend veterinarian describe herself as a highly sensitive person too. Great to be able to pass some of these strategies along too!

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Rebecca January 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing!

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Robin January 14, 2015 at 8:42 am

Right on target!…..9 hours of sleep, brief solitude in the morning, work clothes/shoes and earrings are in one area of the closet (minimizes the ….”Does this match?”), and reduce the energy zapping clutter….so minimal decisions required before heading out the door! I thought it was just me!

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Rebecca January 14, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Oh how I wish I could get 9 hours every night! That would be amazing. I think this issues affect so many of us in vet med and prob other compassion based people as well

Thanks for commenting!

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