Recommended Downtime for HSPs

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Excerpt from The Empowered Highly Sensitive Person

How much downtime do we need as HSPs to thrive? The general recommended amount is eight to ten hours in bed daily, two hours per day of unstructured, alone time (reading, meditating, outside in nature, etc.), one complete day off per week, and one week off for every season. This is what I recommend as ideal, and if you can start to find ways to get closer and closer to this, it will be worth the effort for how good you feel. With enough downtime, the balanced and centered part of you gets to take the wheel and steer your direction.

Solitude is an essential component for the HSP’s wellness. Are you getting in alone time everyday? Because we take in so much and absorb a lot from other people, we need to carve out time that we are alone. When we are alone, we can do the processing our brain needs without taking in new stuff. Being alone gives us the time and space we need to check in with ourselves, get to know our needs, and plan out ways of getting our needs met. Ultimately, it gives you a chance to take care of you too. You have likely been caring for other people’s needs a lot as an HSP and having alone time allows you to care for yourself too. I suggest that the two hours of downtime recommended for an HSP should be spent alone if possible.

Alone doesn’t mean lonely. If you feel anxious or lonely when you are alone, there might be some underlying things you need to address. If you feel anxious, it is likely that you have a lot you need to process and it has built up. Try doing a quiet activity that allows you to remain still but occupies you just above the anxious space. For example, you can listen to music or do something creative that you enjoy. Eventually, you want to be able to be still without needing something “to do,” but sometimes, it takes time to achieve that ability. Give yourself some time. If you feel lonely when you are alone, then that might mean you need more connection in your life. We do need to be able to connect with ourselves to be able to connect with others.

HSPs have three stages we need to go through in order to fill up our energy tanks, and I recommend we do these alone.

1. Brain processing

2. Rest

3. Restoration

Because of our depth of processing, we need time to process all that we take in. Our brain is like a supercomputer downloading so heavily that if it doesn’t have enough processing time the emotional part of our brain may shut down our cognitive part. That’s where we feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, and depleted.

I separate rest and restoration intentionally. Rest is really quieting the mind, body, and spirit part of ourselves. I might rest by lying down, reading, or doing something quietly by myself. Restoration goes into another layer because, if you did enough of the brain processing time and rest, you start to restore and fill up the energy reserves. A lot of HSPs restore really well in nature. Restoring isn’t taking in a lot, so no devices, TV, reading, or taking in new information in the restorative state. You want to become peaceful and still so you can go within easily.

Every day, ideally, try to carve out two hours of time to yourself. You might need to get creative and consciously find ways to open this time for yourself. Some HSPs take one hour in the morning and one in the evening. If possible, set up a space for solitude. Most HSPs discover that once they do carve out this time, they actually have more energy and are more productive.

During this time and in this calm-centered space, contemplate and/ or practice the following:

  • Self-soothing.

  • Self-compassion.

  • Pay attention to what your body is telling you.

  • Prioritize your wellness and balance.

  • Seek to feel that centered space, aligned in honoring your needs.

  • Enjoy your restorative time!

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So, what is the first step toward reducing anxiety and overwhelm as an HSP? Learn everything you can about your unique HSP brain. It’s essential that you understand why you experience the things you do and learn what techniques work for HSPs individually.

~Julie Bjelland is a psychotherapist, global HSP consultant, and leader in the field of high sensitivity and has helped thousands of highly sensitive people around the world. As an HSP herself, Julie understands what it is like to live with high sensitivity and strong emotions. Julie teaches a transformational, life changing, heartwarming online course to help HSPs reduce anxiety and overwhelming emotions and is the author of several books. Check out Julie’s newest book, The Empowered Highly Sensitive Person.

Julie Bjelland