Are you a highly sensitive person who struggles with high stress, overwhelming emotions and/or anxiety?
By Julie Bjelland, LMFT
Psychotherapist that specializes in the highly sensitive person.
Brain Training for the Highly Sensitive Person, Techniques to Reduce Anxiety and Overwhelming Emotions: An 8-Week Course was developed for the highly sensitive person and is so transformational. I wanted to share what some of the students who completed the course learned and experienced and the ways their life is better since completing the course.
What has this course meant to you?
The time in the course has meant a lot to me. First, it marked a moment when I've decided I do need to take care of myself. I've found it helpful to be a part of a group who has been so supportive and who also is so similar to me. Julie, your input has been critical in this journey. I appreciate a pragmatic results based approach and this was exactly that. Truth be told I'm a little sad we are at the end of our 8 weeks, I'm wishing everyone in the group all the best. Hopefully I'll see some of you in the graduates group!
It has been a pleasure being part of this group of fabulous and gentle souls. I don't feel as alone or frustrated with my HSP trait. We are all so similar it really fascinates me. We are a special group of people and I am so happy that you all are out there in the world. Thank you!!!
The time in this course has meant a lot to me. It has helped me realize that I am just as important as those that I am trying to help for and be there for all the time. It has shown me that I need to take care of and appreciate myself in order to be the best me that I can be.
The course has meant a lot to me and it has been great to learn alongside other HSPs. I think it has helped me finally understand myself better and goodness knows I’ve been trying to do that all my life!! I read something somewhere that said ‘don’t expect other people to know and understand you, just make sure that you know and understand yourself’ and that is where I think I have got to now.
Share the tools that have worked for you and in what ways they have changed aspects of your life for the better.
The tool that works for me is the three-circle technique. It’s tough at times to remember to utilize it, but when I do remember and I do use it, it’s fantastic. I look forward to continuing to use it while dealing with my emotional triggers.
I think the tool that has worked best for me is the one where we accept an emotion and don't judge it. I have spent so much of my life being disappointed and angry with myself for having such strong emotions and have berated myself as a result. I have accepted that it is within myself to show compassion and to comfort myself where necessary. I find that putting my hand on my chest and saying 'it's going to be ok' when I am in a stressful moment, is a very powerful tool.
My tools have been to slow down and think before overdoing it. I get very passionate about most things and take on way too much. Saying "no" is getting easier for me. Deep breathing has kept me from getting too anxious and overwhelmed. I have also changed my bedtime routine to hopefully get better sleep. I take longer showers with no guilt and use our hot tub more often. I also walk around my garden when I need to take it down a notch and only have a minute.
The awareness/mindfulness is huge for me. When I can catch those triggers at the beginning then the three circles work well for me.
What stress numbers were you walking around with before starting this course, and how much have you been able to lower them? What worked for you? Do you use specific activities to help reduce your stress? Have you observed how your emotional and sensory overload reduces when you reduce your stress numbers?
In the beginning of this course, I feel like my stress numbers were at a 10. Now, most of the time I feel at about a 5 during the work-week and maybe a 3 on the weekends. I think taking time for myself has helped me immensely. I have realized that I don’t have to save the world, I am not perfect and things do not have to be perfect. Don’t get my wrong, I still have my moments, but I feel like I have learned to relax, finally. I think of tasks that I have to complete, prioritize them and then attempt to do them. If I get everything done, great. If not, tomorrow is a new day. I have noticed that when my emotional and sensory overload is reduced, my stress numbers are lower.
I find my stress levels relating to social situations are much lower as I have a much clearer idea of my own needs, and I feel a lot stronger when I say no to an invitation particularly when I know that I don't have enough 'social energy' in the tank. I find I am pacing myself better. Also, if I feel exhausted from a lot of talking particularly if it’s been ‘deep’ conversations, I take time out to rest my mind & body. Sometimes by doing some mindfulness breathing or quite often I watch really easy, uplifting programmes.
My stress numbers were very high before most of the time. I had been trying to figure out why I suffer from burnout so often. I now realize that it is my sensitivity and I need to give myself a BREAK! My numbers are lower now and I'm sure I'm a more pleasant person to be around ;)Going to my pilates class and ceramics class makes me feel great. I'm trying to keep that schedule consistent and not let other obligations get in the way of my activities.
Getting time to myself outside in nature makes the biggest impact for me followed closely by my morning workout and evening soak. I think "bookending" the day really helps me.
Can you now prioritize your needs more? What are your new commitments to yourself and your daily acts of self-care? Come share the creative ways you have been able to reduce your sensory overload. Sharing with each other means we get more good ideas to try!
Yes, I am able to prioritize my needs more. My commitment to myself is to take time for myself daily – even if it is just 30 minutes. I try to read a book, take a bubble bath (sometimes both!) and get myself outside to appreciate the nature around me. It’s such a beautiful time of year. I have even tried to appreciate my surroundings while sitting in traffic – the color of the sky, the colors of the leaves. It makes for a more bearable commute when you think of all the beauty you’re surrounded by instead of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Combine that with a good tune and it makes the drive a breeze!
I am definitely prioritising my needs more and have deleted the word ‘selfish’ from my internal self talk. I have put myself to the top of my priority list whereas I was always at the bottom before. I am still getting used to this new priority but it is pretty liberating to give myself permission to listen to my own needs first.
I am also seeking more ways to experience joy. I make life joyful for my family which of course brings me joy but I'm thinking more about what brings me joy personally and doing those things more.
Much better at prioritizing my needs now. Huge lesson this week about staying consistent with that, even when I'm feeling great and like I don't need it.
Share all the positive changes you have already made, as well as the commitments you plan to continue in your journey even after the course. Let’s celebrate our efforts!
A huge positive change I have made is that I make it a point to take time for myself daily and recharge. I didn’t realize how important it was until I started to routinely do it.
I take time to read more, I enjoy relaxing times in the bath listening to my favourite music. I take myself away for some quiet time when there is a lot of busyness going on and my family understand now why I need to do that. I also look at nature all around me when I am driving or walking in the area and am really enjoying all the beautiful autumn colours at the moment.
I continue to slow life down as much as I can, not overcommit and take time to listen to my heart. I'm just nicer to myself, as nice as I am to others.
Changes - mental shift to understanding and accepting myself. Allowing myself to feel emotions instead of telling myself why I shouldn't be feeling them (this has also become an invaluable tool in de-escalating a meltdown with my daughter). regular self care, I'm realizing it is not optional. This has also made me more open with my wife emotionally, it's helped me feel OK about myself to the point where I'm able to be more open on a deeper level.
Share with the class all the positives you have reflected on as an HSP.
It is a BIG positive to realise all the positive qualities that we have as HSP's. It was uncanny how similar our first week 'positive lists' were. One of my friends has only just replied to my request from week one and it has given me pleasure all over again to read what she has written. To be honest these are the qualities that I would hope for in a really close friend and thought I would never find! So my biggest positive is to have found a friend in myself!! And now that I am treating myself with the same understanding and compassion that I would show to a friend life feels a whole lot better
Positives I reflect on as an HSP: I am creative! I feel emotions deeply (I used to see this as a negative!), I am a good listener and attentive, and best of all I am weird – and it’s totally okay
Positives - our caring nature and ability to be a great friend, ability to pick up on nuances, Depth of feeling-I also used to see this a a negative and am beginning to also see the positive.
I am very loving, caring, supportive, intuitive, artistic and deeply emotional. I know what others need.
~A Note from Julie: This was from one of the last postings in our final 8th week. This course is so transformational and I’m so proud of all of the HSPs who have completed the course. May you continue to grow and blossom and thrive!
If you are a highly sensitive person and interested in joining our next course that starts in January, here is more information: http://www.juliebjelland.com/hsp-e-course
Julie Bjelland is a licensed psychotherapist. Having built a successful private practice, Julie continues to expand her reach by developing online brain-training courses, serving as a consultant to other therapists, teaching workshops, and coaching HSPs globally. Her passion and expertise is in neuroscience and determining how to successfully train the brain so people can live their best lives. Her most recent book, Brain Training for the Highly Sensitive Person: Techniques to Reduce Anxiety and Overwhelming Emotions, has received outstanding reviews from world-renowned psychologists Tara Brach, PhD, Rick Hanson, PhD, and Ted Zeff, PhD. She has also published two companion journals for her brain training program as well as several beautiful keepsake journals. Julie specializes in working with anxiety and the highly sensitive person (HSP), couple's communication, self-esteem, and the LGBTQQ community. In addition to her work in psychology, she is a former Guide Dogs for the Blind trainer and author of the book Imagine Life With A Well-Behaved Dog.