5 Steps to Living Optimally as a Highly Sensitive Person
Today, my new book, Brain Training For The Highly Sensitive Person: Techniques To Reduce Anxiety and Overwhelming Emotions: An 8-Week Program, by Julie Bjelland, LMFT is now available on Barnes and Noble too!
"This book is full of thoughtful, warm-hearted, and useful suggestions for calming and fortifying the nervous system. Julie Bjelland is a master of her craft, and it shows on every page."
-Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of "Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence."
"I highly recommend that highly sensitive people read Julie Bjelland's book, "Brain Training for the Highly Sensitive Person". This thorough and well-researched book contains many techniques to help transform the HSP's life. Even if the student implements only a portion of the many practical and innovative methods that are presented in the book for calming the sensitive nervous system, the HSP will live a happier, more tranquil and productive life."
- Ted Zeff, Ph.D. author of "The Highly Sensitive Person Survival's Guide," "The Strong Sensitive Boy," and " The Power of Sensitivity."
"Julie Bjelland MFT is a remarkable therapist! She has developed great expertise and success in her work with HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) clients. She has used research, clinical experience and her HSP gifts to develop a unique and effective therapeutic approach to help her HSP clients overcome the obstacles of living in a world that is too often not supportive of HSP needs, and to help HSPs feel accepted and valued rather than different or 'wrong'. Now she brings her talent and work to a greater audience with this book. It offers the content of her approach with a focus on the necessary follow-up to make real change in your life. The book also offers the benefit of Julie's warm, compassionate voice and her caring."
- Jeannie Wolitzer, LMFT
I am going to begin a series of how to lower your anxiety as an HSP. There are several practices that we know work for our HSP brains. Many of us often jump out of bed and race into our day, beginning the first moments of our day in a state of higher stress and anxiety. Using what we know about the brain, we can begin to take steps to reduce anxiety and stress that can carry with us throughout the day. What I have observed in my work with HSPs, in therapy, in my HSP course, and coaching HSPs globally, is that we all experience such similar ways of "being". In my last HSP course, many HSPs discovered that they could see very clear patterns associated with what reduced their daily stress and what heightened it. One of the first conversations that arose in our course was morning rituals. HSP course participants started recognizing that on the days they woke up and felt rushed, their entire day felt harder and more stressful. On the days, they gave themselves more time in the morning, to move at a slower pace, they noticed immediate lowering of their entire days stress levels. That's an easy thing to do right now. What can you do to slow your pace in the morning? If we get up a bit earlier, which means we might need to sleep a bit earlier, we can take that extra time to move more slowly, to be mindful of ourselves in the morning. Try some of these starting tomorrow and see how you feel. The proof is always in how you feel.
1. Start out by determining how much sleep you need to feel rested and make sure you get to sleep at a time that gives you that feeling.
2. When you wake up, take a few minutes before you get out of bed and practice light stretching.
3. Don't look at your phone right away. You don't want to jump into "to do" mode right now. Instead, take some deep breaths and ask yourself, "What can I do for myself today that would be nurturing?" This starts our day with an intention of self care, which is something essential for balance as an HSP. For me, I love making myself my favorite cup of tea and then slowly, mindfully drink it, while looking outside at my favorite trees. It gives me a chance to slowly wake my system up and appreciate the beauty of nature. The quiet of the morning, before the children are awake is a lovely time (as long as we have had enough sleep).
4. Try to get in touch with what you are grateful for in the morning when you wake up and when you go to sleep at night and any time you feel stressed. This is a positive form of brain-training that is easy to do and activates a part of our brain that feels more calm and more peace. There is also a great app called "Headspace" that offers 10 minute meditations to start your day feeling more calm and in touch with an inner peace that can have lasting benefits all day.
5. Try to stay mindful and present as often as possible throughout the day. When we are in the present moment we are not anxious. When you are in the shower, for example, just be in the shower. Think about the smell of the soap, the feel of the water on your skin. Slow down and try to bring yourself to the present moment. We know that if we slow down we are actually more productive, so don't let yourself worry about the "to do" list. Enjoy the water on your skin.
If you have children, you can actively work on making routines easier in the morning so that everyone is in a more relaxed state. My children leave enough time in the morning to lounge around a bit so that everyone is quite relaxed before leaving to school or work. We were conscious about creating this routine in our family and over time everyone benefits.
Try giving yourself more time in the mornings and see how you feel. Everyone around you will benefit if you are more relaxed and less stressed.
-Julie Bjelland, LMFT HSP Psychotherapist, Teacher, Author of Brain Training for Highly Sensitive People, Techniques to Reduce Anxiety and Overwhelming Emotions. http://www.juliebjelland.com/hsp/
Several HSP therapists have asked to me to describe the online HSP course I have developed. I thought I would post something here as a brief description... Because HSP's have an overly activated amygdala, I teach methods to help bypass the overly activated limbic system as well as get out of the limbic system when needed. This reduces the feeling of overwhelm and depletion as well as Anxiety that HSPs often experience. It also reduces nervous system overdrive common with HSPs. We work on identifying emotional and even sensory triggers and creating a new pause in the neural networks for a new neural sprout to develop that gives us a feeling of choice in response rather than reaction from activation. Neural sprouts only take about 3 weeks to start so most HSPs feel better rather quickly! It's very exciting stuff. When we are not having meltdowns we also reduce the familiar HSP cycle of guilt, shame and self-blame which are powerful for HSPs. All of these methods open up a new amount of brain energy and brain space for higher level functions like creativity and getting out of survival mode where we are just trying to get through the day. It allows us to move out of an often depleted state and into one where our life feels so much better. A lot of HSPs describe it as "freedom". I focus a lot on self care practices, including mindfulness and meditation. Self care is like medicine to an HSP and doing more of it is essential to be able to create the space to train our brains in the first place. I also help HSPs reframe more positive labeling. There are so many amazing parts of having this trait, that sometimes are hard to reach when we are overwhelmed, but once we remove the veil of overwhelm, we gain access to all those positives! My clients and students have found it quite transformational. All of these methods work really well for HSPs because we have a higher level of consciousness and depth of processing by nature. I'm super passionate about all of this. There is so much to describe, that I sometimes find it hard to put into a few sentences. :) Hope that helps understand it better! The next course starts April 10, 2017: http://www.juliebjelland.com/hsp-e-course/
Several HSP therapists have asked to me to describe the online HSP course I have developed. I thought I would post something here as a brief description...
As a highly sensitive person (HSP) your brain is like a super computer with an extra sixth sense. This offers some wonderful strengths, but also often causes feelings of being overwhelmed and depleted. Learning about the differences in your HSP brain can help you manage the overwhelming feelings and anxiety that often accompany many HSPs experiences.
50% of our clients are highly sensitive people, also known as sensory processing sensitivity. This article offers information to help you in working with your HSP clients.