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/