I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) but I didn’t actually know that until I became a mother. Looking back now, I can see the traits I had that would classify me as a highly sensitive person but I never heard of that term until my later 20s. Once I became a mother, it was undeniable that I identified with most of the traits associate with being a highly sensitive person.
You may be a highly sensitive person if:
- you are very sensitive to noise and smell
- you can become annoyed and frustrated easily
- you take a very long time to make decisions
- you are kind of a perfectionist
- you become overwhelmed easily
- you take on other’s emotions as your own
- you pick up on subtle changes in your environment and what other’s are feeling
- you often retreat into solitude and need that time alone to recoup and re-energize
- people often call you ‘too sensitive’
- you feel different than everyone else and that you don’t really fit in
You can also take this test if you are curious to better know and understand what it means to be HSP.
I used to feel like I was a weirdo but as I’ve gotten older, I can now view being a highly sensitive person as a gift! It means I am better able to see, feel, smell everything in my environment and surroundings. I can pick up on how people are feeling in particular situations and whether something is making someone uncomfortable or something is rubbing them the wrong way. It also means that I need to be careful and take better care of myself as a mother to avoid burnout and overwhelm.
When my first born was just a squishy little baby, and I was dealing with the normal sleep deprivation that comes with caring for a newborn 24/7, I started to really feel the effects of being a highly sensitive person. I became overwhelmed easily with all the new and many things I had to accomplish in a day, being pulled in different directions and not being able to properly care for myself as I did before. I felt immense sadness when my baby was upset and needed to do everything in my power to ease her sadness; if I could not do so immediately then major overwhelm and feelings of inadequacy would consume me.
As my daughter became older and then 1 became 2, the noise, ( seriously, why is screaming so fun?!) always being touched and pulled in many different directions has only amplified. And because we also follow a more attachment parenting, extending and on demand breastfeeding style of parenting, becoming touched out is a very real struggle.
I am thankful to have learned early on what I needed to do and what needed to happen in order to survive motherhood as a highly sensitive person. This is what has worked for me and I hope will work for you as well.
6 Tips for Navigating Motherhood as a Highly Sensitive Person
Create a time and space for you to sit in quiet every day.
This looks different for me, depending on the day, what I’m in the mood for and what is happening on that particular day. A lot of the time, it happens during nap time in the early afternoon. I make myself my favourite tea or the best hot chocolate and I sit in absolute quiet in the comfy corner of our living room and allow the warmth of the tea soothe me. Some may prefer soft music playing or another pleasing sound. Sometimes I read, sometimes I write in a journal and sometimes I work. If my nap time is taken up by cleaning (ugh!) or something else going on, then I plan ahead and have my quiet tea time first thing in the morning-even just a few minutes makes all the difference. Occasionally, I also use a few minutes after the kids are asleep to do a guided meditation. Figure out what works for you and what your soul is craving and then just do it! Every. Single. Day. The most important thing for me is that it is quiet and I am alone to do what I want for a few minutes.
Be aware of your own limitations and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It is much better for everyone if you can avoid letting the feelings of overwhelm take over. Communicate with your partner, kids and those around you by simply letting them know what you need at that moment. Sometimes, I just simply say that I need quiet right now or help with whatever million tasks I’m trying to accomplish at once.
Spend time outside in nature every day.
Fresh air in my lungs and sunshine on my face and body do wonders for me! I like to get a walk in everyday-sometimes just around the block, sometimes on a nature hike with my family. I like to sit in the sun with my bare feet on the ground or spend time in the garden. This helps to calm the mind, relax and feel joy again.
Make your home a sanctuary.
Remove the clutter (this one is difficult for me with 2
crazy little kids running around.) Clutter can overwhelm a lot of people but very easily overwhelm HSPs. Clutter can also increase anxiety and mental stress. A minimalist approach is something I am working on and striving for in our home and lives but, like I said, it is a very slow process. Keep plants around your home, open the blinds and windows to let the sunshine and nature in, hang pictures of people and things that bring you joy, using your favourite smelling essential oils in a diffuser, and also creating a sacred space is a really good option for the Highly Sensitive Person to have somewhere to retreat when you are needing a break.
Protect your emotional well-being.
Watching upsetting stories on the news and violent and graphic movies and T.V. shows can really affect HSPs because we feel emotional situations much more than others, sometimes even taking on others emotions as our own. I don’t watch the news and I choose to watch light-hearted or funny shows and movies to protect my emotional well-being. Of course, in this age of social media, we cannot avoid all major news stories but I don’t mind too much as it keeps me in the loop with what is going on in our world when I really need to know something. I try not to get too involved in these stories though because it ends up taking over my thoughts and affecting my sleep.
Up your self-care game!
I’ve talked about the importance of a good self-care routine because it is essential for everyone! BUT parents and HSPs especially need to take good care of themselves in order to be able to take care of their families. Make time to do the things you really enjoy and make you feel refreshed; take a hot bubble bath, read, eat nourishing foods, practice yoga, get a massage, meditate, get your hair done, go out to dinner with a friend, and most importantly treat yo’self!
Once you are aware of your own limitations as a Highly Sensitive Person, then you can decide and figure out what works best for you and your family to keep everyone healthy and happy. Remember that you need to take care of yourself properly so that you can take care of your family. They will understand and in the end be much happier with a mom who is happier and more present in their lives. These tips are the things that really allow me to keep my sanity and be able to be the calm and peaceful mom that I want to be. (most of the time) I hope that you are able to implement some of these tips into your daily life and see the major benefits as well!
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Does this resonate with you? Will you implement any of these tips? What else have you found that works for you? I look forward to meeting more moms who are Highly Sensitive like me!
This post is linked up with Simply+Every Mom Life Mondays! Go check it out too for other great posts on all things motherhood.
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