Ever try a “sound bath”? It’s just one way to keep your mental health in check, especially if you’re a highly sensitive introvert.
If you’re an introvert, you value nothing more than your alone time. There’s no way you could show up in the world as your best self without that downtime to recharge. If you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP), you cherish calm, dim atmospheres. One-on-one hangouts at a cozy coffee shop probably sound ideal for you because the less stimuli, the better.
Things get a little trickier when you are both an introvert and an HSP, like I am. The mere thought of group hangouts two days in a row makes my mind race with anxiety. I have to either mentally prepare myself for days or try to find a way out of at least one of them. Why? Because the introvert in me knows I need at least three days to myself after one group gathering, so that means two in a row will keep me in my cave for a week. Then, the HSP part of my brain starts trying to process how many emotions and details it will pick up from so many people at once and gets exhausted just thinking about it. Together, they dread the possibility of small talk and being misunderstood when I don’t try to participate in it.
(Are you an HSP? Here are 21 signs you’re a highly sensitive person.)
If you can relate to being both an introvert and an HSP, then you know how much more difficult managing daily life can be for us. It was the worst for me when I had to work in an office every day. Being around so many people day after day, all while trying to get work done, made me a zombie by the time I’d get home: I’d have both an introvert hangover and an HSP one. It was hard managing a healthy lifestyle and a social life on top of it.
So, during that time and beyond, I found interesting little things to do that helped revive me — and my mental health — so I could live my best life as a highly sensitive introvert. They may help you, too.
8 Things Highly Sensitive Introverts Can Do to Take Care Of Their Mental Health
1. Sit in a dark silent room for 10-30 minutes.
This can be done anywhere, anytime, whether it’s during your lunch break or when you get home or log out for the day. I used to go sit in my car in the parking garage or find an empty meeting room and just eat my lunch there or just sit and be with my eyes closed. Or, when I’d get home, I’d lock myself in my room, shut off the lights, and take a 20-minute power nap before cooking or working out. (Highly sensitive people are known to need more sleep than non-HSPs!) I’ve done the same at parties or events. It really helps since the things that drain us are noise, lights, and people’s energies, so being away from it all for a bit recharges us.
2. Eat something hearty, like your favorite comfort food.
Eating clean, unprocessed, and healthy food is good for your overall mental health. Research shows that it impacts your brain health and your mood. But… on those days when you’re especially overstimulated, comfort foods may be the answer. Studies have found that it triggers positive memories and can make you feel less alone. While I’m not saying this is a daily fix, it can help in those moments or days your energy is really depleted. And for those of us who are highly sensitive introverts, most of our “energy” is in our heads: We overthink and are easily overstimulated. So bringing the energy back down to earth can help us find balance, and sometimes the easiest way is to eat some good ol’ carbs. I’ll usually whip up some mashed potatoes or have some steamed rice. If it’s really bad, I’ll have some pizza. It helps ground my mental energy when I’m anxious.
3. Dance! (Don’t worry — no one has to see!)
Moving your body in any way is helpful, such as walking, yoga, or cardio exercise. We already know this, however, I am specifically talking about dancing here. You don’t have to be a great dancer, heck, you don’t even have to particularly like it, but dance it out. Introverts may not necessarily like to do this in front of people, but dancing alone in your own space increases serotonin, which can help with overall confidence.
When feeling depleted, at a dead-end from mental fatigue, put on a favorite song and just move your body to it. Get lost in it: eyes closed, hairbrush microphone in hand. Air guitar your heart out. You can even turn your living room into your stage and Top Gun it. How you do it doesn’t matter; doing it like no one’s watching will greatly relieve you from the stress in your head.
4. Look up and get lost in the sky. Its vastness will calm you down in no time.
You probably know that going out to get some fresh air is helpful, but something less known is how watching the sky can help calm our nerves. Did you know taking five minutes to observe the clouds is considered a form of meditation? I’ve done this numerous times and it’s so soothing. Whether it’s from a window or outdoors, I just get lost in the vastness of the sky. When my highly sensitive introverted soul is racing and my mind focuses on something as large as the sky, all my thoughts and worries become insignificant. My mood lightens. Try it. You’ll see.
5. Decrease phone time. (Seriously!)
OK, so decreasing your phone time may not be so unheard of, but it’s an important one. I know that my phone, specifically social media, really affects my mood (especially as an HSP). Both introverts and highly sensitive people react differently to dopamine than the average person. Because social media is designed to influence dopamine levels, it makes sense why it drains me. It’s similar to how material possessions, surface-level conversations, risky adventures, and/or loud parties make me feel. The average person wants and enjoys them, but we highly sensitive introverts get the life sucked out of us from them.
Although I love social media because it allows me to be creative, reach people all over the world, and grow my business, I’ve found that if I don’t discipline myself with it, I can end up staying on it way longer than needed and wasting my time and vitality. So I use it for 30 minutes a day now and it has been a game-changer in preserving my energy.
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6. Get creative: What’s a fun activity you’re drawn to?
Since we introverts and highly sensitive people get so in our heads and pick up on so many details, we make for extra creative individuals. Also, being that it’s harder for introverts to express themselves verbally, creative outlets are where we thrive.
When I feel down or deprived of my mental strength, I push myself to do something that helps me be present and use my mind-body-soul connection in a different way than, say, a yoga workout. Using our hands to make something out of our thoughts and emotions can be so calming. I may try a new recipe, paint just for fun, do a random craft, play around with my keyboard, or something else that comes to me spur-of-the-moment. So ask yourself what you’re drawn to. It could be gardening or scrapbooking or anything. Setting aside 30 minutes a day for a creative activity can help stabilize the overstimulated mind and is a great form of self-care.
7. Watch funny, light-hearted, or nostalgic shows or videos.
It’s tough not to overthink and take things too seriously when you notice so much as an HSP or have so much alone time as an introvert. You can just be sitting there, in a great mood, minding your own business, and then you notice something minor your friend did that rubbed you the wrong way. Or you heard a song that was too aggressive for you. Then, all of the sudden, you’re anxious and feeling ungrounded. You just want a quick, effective, comforting distraction to bring you back to good spirits.
So what do I do? I put on Friends, The Office, or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for feel-good humor. Or, I watch old interviews on YouTube of my favorite pop stars of the early 2000s, like NSYNC. I instantly start to feel lighter from the nostalgic humor; it takes my mind back to simpler times, when the only thing I was worried about was getting home in time to watch TRL (also known as Total Request Live).
8. Try sound healing, like going to a sound bath.
It’s no secret that highly sensitive introverts don’t like loud, jolting sounds. In fact, it can cause us to be highly irritated and uneasy. However, sounds at certain frequencies, like through sound baths, have been good for filling my mind with peace. Going to a sound bath is exactly what it sounds like: You’re “bathed” with sounds (from gongs to chimes), which brings your body to a mellow state.
If you can’t (or don’t want to) go to one in person, there are many sound bath videos, live and pre-recorded, online. I love those. At home — or even in my car after a social hangout — I’ll YouTube “hz frequency meditation” and choose whatever frequency resonates at that moment (hint: 528hz is good for calming the heart). I’ll put in my headphones, close my eyes, and within five minutes, I am back to a balanced state.
Highly sensitive introverts, what are some other things you do to improve your mood, energy, and mental health? Let me know in the comments below.
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