Highly sensitive people have empathetic hearts. When the world is too much, they feel exhausted by it and need time to themselves. Stimuli like flashing lights, loud noises, and quick movements begin to startle them. In those moments, they require space and a safe place to just take a pause.
As an HSP, you should always make time for yourself — especially when things get stressful. This self care guide for highly sensitive people will help you feel renewed and recharge your batteries!
What is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
HSPs make up 20% of the population, but we don’t often times hear about this personality trait. I myself never heard of the term until I read a book called The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, PhD.
According to Aron, a highly sensitive person is someone who “is aware of subtleties in their surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”
Simply put, highly sensitive people have a more sensitive nervous system. This means that they notice and respond more than usual to the things around them. They also are in touch with their own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and bodies.
In her book, Aron states that being an HSP is a positive trait. It comes with many advantages and strengths. For example, you are highly aware, empathetic, and detail oriented. Unfortunately, many HSPs may feel misunderstood.
Because of their sensitivity, they sometimes become overwhelmed by their surroundings. This leads them to withdraw when things get too stressful and they may come across as rattled by their environment. For this reason, they’ll more than likely hear things like “stop being so sensitive,” “did that really bother you?” or “but I didn’t even notice that!”
Traits of Highly Sensitive People
There are quite a few common traits of a highly sensitive person. Here are just a couple of them — as you’re reading, ask yourself if you can relate to any of these traits!
- You’re an introspective person and think deeply
- Easily overwhelmed by bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or loud noises
- You notice things that other people may miss
- Feel rattled when you’re short on time
- Deeply moved by the arts & beauty
- Sudden changes upset you
- You’re empathetic to other people’s feelings
- Need to withdraw to a quiet, private room during busy days
- Avoid violent movies and TV shows
- Do your best to avoid uncomfortable situations
- People tell you that you’re shy
For more information, make sure to check out Aron’s highly sensitivity self-test on her site!
My Experience as an HSP
Ever since I was a kid, I was sensitive. I loved to write about my feelings and cared deeply for the people around me. Sad music brought me to tears — so did feel-good movies and TV shows!
I even have this distinct childhood memory of “rescuing” a fly from our basement. I didn’t want to hurt the fly and shooed it away until it flew outside. When I looked out the door, I started to hope that the fly would now have a better life. I thought maybe “he’d have more space to fly, get married, and have kids.”
My sensitivity had drawbacks, though. For example, whenever I got sick back then with the flu or a cold, I felt every ache and pain. It was kind of the end of the world! My family even lovingly coined a nickname for me in Italian, which in English translates to “little complainer.”
When I read Aron’s book, I never related to a something so much. It explained a lot about my personality! I now see my sensitivity as a positive trait and continue to find ways to better my self care routine as an HSP!
42 Self Care Tips for Highly Sensitive People
Finding the right self care routine as an HSP can be a tricky task. In general, highly sensitive people need a comforting space, time to themselves, and healthy outlets for self expression.
These are just some wellness tips that help me recharge as an HSP. Read through the list and see if you can add any of these self care ideas to your routine! Also, feel free to download my printable with all of the ideas & stick it on your fridge for inspo! 💗✨
1. Find a creative outlet.
Do something creative, whether it’s painting, knitting, or playing an instrument. Creative outlets are an awesome and fun way to express yourself! Personally, I love scrapbooking. After a long day, shopping for cute stationery at Michaels and putting photographs together boosts my mood! 🎨
Highly sensitive people can benefit greatly from journaling. If you’re feeling stressed, jotting down your thoughts will help you gain clarity. Consider starting a bullet journal or even keeping a daily diary!
3. Learn more about high sensitivity through books & articles.
Learning as much as you can about high sensitivity is a great first step! Make sure to check out The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, PhD! It’s such a helpful and insightful book! Also, you can browse online for more articles about highly sensitive people!
4. Spend time in nature.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, surround yourself with nature. There are a lot of benefits to spending time outdoors, including an increase in vitamin D and a decrease in stress hormone levels. Sit outside for a bit, take a drive to the park, or go on a nature hike. When things get hectic, it’s nice to get away for a bit and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. 🌳
5. Make your bedroom a retreat.
As an HSP, it’s important to have a self care retreat at home. Turn your bedroom into a relaxing haven — add things like warm lighting, a soft comforter, pastel colors, and a comfy chair! I like to decorate my room with pretty artwork and fun throw pillows! 🌼
6. Have a chat with your loved ones.
Spend time with people who you love and trust. It’s also a good idea to talk to them about your experience as an HSP. For me, Alejandro understands that my stress levels go up when there’s too much going on around me. When we go out to parties or events, he always makes sure that I feel comfortable and calm! You’ll feel relieved knowing that the people around you get it! 💓
7. Drink enough water.
When you’re thirsty, you start experiencing uncomfortable symptoms that further trigger high sensitivity. For example, you may start to feel lightheaded or tired. For this reason, stay hydrated throughout the day. Consider buying a water bottle with a time marker. It’ll motivate you to drink more water! 🌊
8. Hug your pet.
Hang out with your bestie — whether it’s your dog, cat, rabbit, or pet turtle! There’s something so uplifting about being around animals! After all, who doesn’t feel so much better after a hug from an adorable pup?! 🐶
9. Bake cookies.
This is one of my personal go-to hobbies for relaxation. After a high pressure day at work, I adore the scent of cookies baking in the oven. It fills the entire kitchen with sugary goodness! 🍪
10. Start a passion project.
Think of something that you’re passionate about — maybe it’s singing, poetry, blogging, or making videos. Self discovery is important for highly sensitive people. Start a passion project that inspires and means something to you! 💛
11. Cozy up your work space.
As an HSP, you may feel rattled by peaks of high stress and pressure at work. This is something that I personally struggle with, especially if I have a deadline coming up or an angry customer on the phone.
A lot of highly sensitive people also struggle with open floor plans in offices, because you don’t have as much privacy. We’re at our jobs for a large portion of the day, so it’s important to feel comfortable at work!
If you can, consider speaking to your manager about productivity and your needs in the workplace. Also, take steps to make your workspace as positive as possible — add a plant, bring in pictures of loved ones, and customize your desk. By bringing in little mementos and sentimental pieces, you’ll feel a lot more at home! 🏠
12. Understand & process your emotions.
Find a helpful and productive way to process your emotions –ask questions, write a poem, have a cry, etc. Consider answering these journal prompts for self discovery and reflection! 📔
13. Use calming essential oils & lotions.
14. Make a self care kit for traveling.
Traveling isn’t always easy when you’re highly sensitive — being on the road can be anxiety inducing! Personally, I love traveling but always get a little anxious beforehand. Because of this, I like to keep a travel self care kit filled with essentials, like a bath bomb, lotion, magazine, etc. It’s relieving to know that I have a little bag of goodies for stressful moments!
15. Grab a blanket, cup of hot chocolate & stargaze.
We’re finally starting to get beautiful fall weather, so this sounds like a lovely evening! 🌌
16. Add gentle products to your beauty routine.
Beauty products with harsh ingredients and strong scents can aggravate your skin. Look out for products with fewer and more natural ingredients — don’t forget to use Paula’s Choice ingredients dictionary as a resource. A beauty line that I adore is Aveeno. Their Pure Renewals shampoo is the best!
17. Cut out caffeine when possible.
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can be unpleasant for an HSP. After a cup of coffee, you may feel shaky, anxious, or nauseous. Try switching to decaf or cutting out different sources of caffeine. Maybe it’s soda, chocolate, or lattes. You can also simply decrease your caffeine intake. A good example is drinking coffee a few times a week instead of daily!
18. Buy a few candles.
19. Put your phone on airplane mode at night.
Did you know that putting your phone on airplane mode at night helps with sleep? I learned this little trick from Janett at Lifestyle Inspired and have been sleeping so much better lately! This is because turning your phone on airplane mode blocks out the network connection and radiation. If you can, it’s best to sleep without your phone in the room, but this tip makes a big difference!
20. Take time to recharge on the weekend.
After a busy week, take time to do things that recharge your body, mind, and soul. Go for a walk, watch documentary, cook dinner, or work on your garden. We all need moments of quiet and relation — this is especially true for highly sensitive people!
21. Yoga & meditation.
Consider signing up for a yoga class or even doing yoga at home. There are so many fantastic yoga classes on YouTube!
22. Visit the beach.
Another tip that personally helps me every time. I grew up five minutes from Lake Michigan and that was my version of the beach. Whenever I felt anxious or overwhelmed, we drove to the park and looked out at the water. There’s something so centering about watching the waves crash against the sand. Even the lake felt like it went on forever! 🏖️
23. Listen to helpful & motivating podcasts.
24. Turn off electronic devices.
When there is too much external stimuli going on at once, it can be exhausting. Try turning off all electronic devices for at least 30 minutes of the day. This tactic will ultimately bring quietness to your space and help you relax your mind!
25. Grab a pair of sunglasses before heading outside.
One of the telltale signs of being an HSP is sensory sensitivity, including bright lights. To combat this, buy a pair of sunnies and wear them when you go outside. I even wear them on cloudy days, as the sun can be quite strong despite grey skies. My favorite sun glasses are from Foster Grant. They’re affordable and super cute!
26. Play video games.
27. Follow positive channels & accounts on social media.
Highly sensitive people soak up other people’s energies like sponges — whether it’s positive or otherwise. Do your best to follow accounts that make you feel inspired and happy! Also, avoid any channels or accounts that are negative and bring you down. By doing so, you’ll protect your own energy! ✨
28. Listen to calming music in a dark room.
Even as a kid, I’d unwind by putting on my headphones and listening to music in my room. It helped me to block out any noise and stress. A good song truly soothes the soul. Enjoy my playlist of some relaxing new music finds! 🎶
29. Eat a healthy & balanced diet.
Focus on wellness by eating a nutritious diet. Fuel your body with fruits, veggies, and foods that contain healthy vitamins & minerals. Also, don’t skip out on breakfast as it helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels! 🍜
30. Tidy up, rearrange furniture & declutter.
Cluttered spaces can really frazzle highly sensitive people. It’s difficult to think straight when a room is messy. I notice that I’m in a much better mood whenever I wake up and our apartment is clean.
Come up with a cleaning routine that works for you — do laundry on the weekends, wash the dishes before going to sleep, and make your bed every morning. Also, search for daily cleaning routines and printables on Pinterest!
31. Slow things down and practice mindfulness.
I recently wrote a mindfulness guide, with helpful tips for remaining present & exercises!
32. Implement “me time” during the day.
Having enough alone time is also essential for an HSP. It gives you that sense of quietness and also reenergizes you after a busy time period. Try out any of these refreshing solo-date ideas!
33. Let go of toxic people and situations.
Negativity of any kind can really drain an HSP’s energy. Just know that it’s okay to let go of negative situations for your mental and physical health. Make sure that you’re always surrounding yourself with people who bring positivity into your life! 💗
34. Book a mini getaway.
Plan a mini getaway, even if it’s just booking a hotel room for a night. Sometimes, we need to get away and press reset. I love random little getaways, whether it’s a road trip or even spending the night out of town. A change of scenery is a good thing every now and again! 🌴
35. Pamper yourself.
Treat yourself with an at-home spa day! Apply a hair or face mask, do your makeup, focus on skincare, or paint your nails! The absolute perfect way to relax on a Friday night! 💄
36. Stay active & exercise.
Another fantastic way to focus an wellness. Even just a 30-minute walk makes a difference! Lately, I’ve been dancing in my living room and it’s been such a mood lifter for me!
37. Open your windows & enjoy the cool fall breeze.
Nothing like getting some fresh air on a brisk fall day! 🍂
38. Buy a few comfy fashion staples.
Most times, highly sensitive people feel overwhelmed by coarse fabrics. There’s nothing quite as awful as itchy fabrics! Comfort is a must for me when it comes to fashion, even when I’m wearing more formal outfits. Try to stock up on a few comfy fashion staples — maybe it’s soft leggings, boyfriend jeans or sweaters. A few of my fall comfy staples are Kohls’ SO leggings, cardigans, and oversized flannels!
39. Unplug from social media.
Some days, it’s helpful to stay off social media and unplug. Have a cup of tea, journal, take a walk — most importantly, just enjoy the day! 💛
40. Run a bath.
41. Add calming decor, flowers, & soft fabrics to your home.
Don’t forget comfy throw blankets & rugs! 💖
42. Read a novel on a rainy day.
What’s a better way to spend a rainy day than reading a good book? Here are some magical fall books you can cuddle up with this fall!
I hope that you enjoyed this post, lovelies! Have a great weekend! x
Do you consider yourself a highly sensitive person? If so, what are some ways you combat overwhelming feelings & stress? Also, have you ever read Dr. Aron’s book before?