At the end of the day, I crave a dimly-lit, silent room, preferably alone or in my boyfriend’s company only. In fact, I usually daydream about this arrangement while I’m out. Throughout the day, I often find myself thinking that nothing sounds better than slumping onto the couch in the quiet right about now. You know how when you come home from a concert and the first sound you hear is a ringing in your ears? I’ve noticed that I hear that same sound after a long day, surrounded by people. I often don’t realize how overstimulated I am until later, when I’m too exhausted to even make my lunch for the next day. I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know why. Then, it hits me. I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP), and I didn’t allow myself any time throughout the day to recharge.
Stimulation bombards me almost constantly. I live next to a college, so music and voices can be heard even now as I write this in the safety of my own house. And, like many others, I work full-time and have other obligations, such as working out, hobbies in order to keep myself sane, and kids (in my case, my kids are my dogs). There’s a lot going on all the time, and I often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.
Most people don’t know that being an HSP doesn’t mean someone who is constantly on the verge of tears, but rather someone who is more susceptible to stimulation. Abrupt and loud noises, a cluster of people coming and going in a room, several people coming up to me to vent their problems, and just having a very busy schedule in general are all things that give me anxiety, sometimes to the point of dizziness. The longer I go without a break from the noise or social situations, the more anxious and stressed I get. It becomes harder and harder to focus, I become moody, negative, and less than delightful to be around; I have trouble even expressing my needs or why I’m so upset.
Since I graduated from college about three years ago, I’ve made it a priority to take better care of myself. I got too used to the bad habits that put my health on the back-burner. It seems like it’s a requirement these days for college students to eat Ramen every other night while getting only 4-5 hours of sleep and stressing over every little thing. These become hard habits to break. There was a time post-college that I didn’t even know how to function without relying on stress to get me through. However, learning to adapt to stressful situations that would normally cause me to have an emotional breakdown has helped me appreciate my personality type. (I’m an INFJ.) I’ve learned that the way my body reacts to these things and how my brain functions are a part of what makes me who I am. The more I’ve researched about what it means to be an INFJ and HSP, the more I’ve learned to love myself.
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Bouncing Back from an Emotional Slump
Have you ever been hit with an emotional slump caused by too much stimulation? If so, here are ten ways to bounce back from it, based on my own experiences:
1. Learn to take deep breaths and breaks throughout the day.
2. Set time aside to treat yourself to a “me day” at least once a month. Use this time to recharge your batteries.
4. Make time to organize or clean your space. Research shows that this increases happiness and productivity — both at work and at home.
5. Learn that saying “no” is okay. You can’t please everyone and you can’t be everywhere at once. (If you know someone who has a cloning device, please let me know.)
7. Spend some time doing something that makes you happy. HSPs often put other people’s needs first and neglect their own. Do something that you truly enjoy.
8. Remind friends and family that you love them but you have to love yourself, too. This means sometimes having to leave the party early or cancel dinner plans so you can stay sane.
9. Purge bad energy. When anger and stress build up, I box, read, or listen to peaceful music to calm myself down.
10. If something goes wrong or doesn’t go the way you planned, try not to stress. Instead, look at it as a challenge that you can and will overcome.
No amount of stress is ever worth putting your health at risk. One of the most important things that I’ve learned about myself thus far is that just because I am sensitive and I process emotions differently than some people does not mean that I am weak. And neither are you.
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Read this: 12 Things a Highly Sensitive Person Needs