For those of you celebrating holidays or attending events, there are ways you can support yourself, and it is important to plan ahead a bit with your energy points. If you have 100 points of energy for the day, it is likely that the group gathering, whether for work or with family, can drain a lot of points for a highly sensitive person (HSP). If you go into that event without your full points, you may have a hard time, but there are ways to preserve your energy points with some conscious intention.
Here are some tips for HSPs during the holiday season:
Take a quiet day to yourself, if possible, the day before and spend some time in nature, meditating, practicing yoga, or whatever helps you center and balance yourself the best. Resting the nervous system prior to over stimulating events or socializing helps a lot. Your goal is to feel rested and restored before you enter that event. When your energy points are full, you will maintain cognitive brain ability and be less likely to be in the emotional reaction space. That will help you know what your needs are and have the ability to meet them.
Be comfortable at the event. Wear clothes that feel comfortable to you. The last thing you need is to be uncomfortable with what you are wearing. Think soft materials that feel good and are not too tight. Enter the event hydrated, and have some healthy food with a protein before going to the event so your blood sugar is stabilized. This will help with mood and energy.
Be compassionate with yourself. If you are nervous or stressed about the upcoming event, how can you be kinder to yourself? Self-compassion is like protective armor. If you are loving and supportive with yourself, you will preserve precious energy points. Normalize and validate the feelings you are having without judgment. They are real for you. Ask yourself what you might need to make it easier for you to attend.
Before you enter the event, practice the breathing technique that helps slow your heart rate and lets your brain know to activate the calming centers. Close your eyes, and breathe in for the count of four, hold for two, and exhale for seven. The long exhale activates a calming center in your brain that deactivates the stress center. They can’t be activated at the same time so if you do practices that activate the calming center you will feel so much better! Do this up to seven cycles at a time. You can practice this technique throughout the event as well to keep yourself balanced.
During the event itself, take some time to pause and check-in with yourself. If at all possible, step outside for 10 to 15 minutes or take a little walk every couple hours or as needed. Take in the sky, the trees, plants, birds, or whatever is near you. This will help ground you and even give you some energy points back. Being mindful of nature’s beauty is very grounding.
If you have no access to nature, you can take some extra time to yourself in another room or even a bathroom if there are no other options. The idea is to do this alone so you have the ability to check-in with yourself. It is important not to feel guilty about doing this because you will drain a lot of points with guilt. You are practicing self-care, and that’s a positive, empowering thing to do!
While you are taking the time alone, ask yourself two questions in a loving, compassionate, and supportive way. How am I doing? What do I need? This gives you the chance to become conscious of how you are doing. Are you impacted by a particular person and might need to stay away from their energy space? Honoring your energy space is a priority. Have you eaten? Are you staying hydrated? Taking care of your needs will help you stay balanced.
You don’t have to visit the entire time with people. It is okay and very necessary as an HSP to take quiet time to yourself to rebalance the nervous system. You can arrive later or leave early. The people who really love and care about you want you to feel your best, and you are the only person that knows what that would be for you. Simply saying, I’ve enjoyed my time here but I am tired and practicing good self-care by leaving a bit early (or arriving a bit late).
Remember, people who have the hardest time with you not meeting their needs are the ones you need to hold the boundary with the most. Your job is not to meet everyone’s needs. You have a different and more sensitive nervous system than the majority, so meeting your needs to be most in balance is your responsibility.
If you are attending the event with a partner or friend, let them know what you need ahead of time. Some people do well to plan a check-in with each other too. It can be helpful to check in with each other to see how you are doing and what you need. I’ve seen couples who do this come to me and say it was the first time they did a family event without an argument afterward because they checked in with each other. Teach your partner about what supports you.
Plan a quiet day after the event to decompress, process, and restore. If you don’t do this, you might be suffering for weeks trying to recover. It’s faster just to give yourself the downtime right when you need it. Nature time usually helps us recover the fastest.
After the event, give yourself some time to journal. What worked? What didn’t? What would you do differently next time? We can begin to develop templates in life that help us support our sensitive system the best when we are consciously paying attention to our needs.
When you take care of your needs, everyone around you benefits, and it supports healthier relationships when we are balanced and thriving. We don’t have to do everything everyone else is doing either. Creating your own template in life is what will work better than comparing it to others.
Remember, you have a more sensitive nervous system than up to 80 percent of the population so your needs will be different. You also take in more information and detail than 80 percent do, so all those details need to be processed, followed by the proper rest and restorative time.
It is very empowering to develop these life templates as an HSP, and you feel more in control too! When you are feeling balanced, you feel better about yourself too, which also preserves energy!