1. Indulge in a good vibe.
HSPs are sensitive to emotional energy and can’t help but notice a vibe — the mood or emotion of a room, place, or group of people. Since we are more responsive to what we take in, vibes impact us more, whether it’s the tension in a meeting at work or your child’s excitement over the day’s plans. Renowned psychologist Rick Hanson advises intentionally “Taking in the good”: lingering on good feelings and positive moments to balance out the negative bias of the brain. This is such good advice for HSPs — we might not be able to help but linger on a stressful or depressing vibe, but we can intentionally sink into the good ones, too.
2. Indulge in blood sugar-balancing treats
In The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook, Elaine Aron explains that HSPs can easily deplete their blood sugar levels due to frequent overstimulation and overwhelm. Being overwhelmed is essentially a stress state, so our bodies go into overdrive to compensate.
This has been a huge revelation for me. I have always struggled with feeling hunger symptoms more frequently and more intensely than others seemed to. Now I embrace a lifestyle of frequent blood sugar-balancing snacks and treats.
3. Indulge in ‘Buffering’
I live in an area where we have to drive everywhere, so I’ve started taking a few minutes after I arrive and before I leave at a destination to just sit in the car and let myself buffer. I sit in silence, drink some water, observe my surroundings or close my eyes, whatever feels good. It sounds insignificant, but it has done wonders for my sensitive self. It’s like I’m letting my nervous system catch up and ease into what’s happening. I feel calmer and more connected to myself when I break the frantic cycle of getting to the next thing.
4. Indulge in affirming your strengths
Plenty has been written about our many sensitive strengths. But it’s easy to forget those strengths when you are out in a world that does not value them.
That’s why this indulgence isn’t a vanity project. It’s a necessity. We have strengths the world needs so we must do our part to nurture and put them into action! Indulge in frequently affirming your strengths. Keep a notepad on your phone to remind you of all you bring to your friendships, job, and even just being out in the world. You bring awareness and empathy everywhere you go. Indulge in the truth of your strengths often.
(Not sure where to start? Here are some of the most powerful things you can say to yourself.)
5. Indulge in a daydream
Sometimes, when my husband notices me lost in thought, he’ll gently ask what I’m thinking about. I struggle to answer. I realize I’ve thought about approximately 500 things in about 30 seconds, all interconnected to each other in the complex web of my mind.
Daydreams and even zoning out help our minds catch up on their processing. Give your extra responsive brain the gift of an indulgent, aimless daydream.
6. Indulge in more comfort
This idea might make me squirm the most. Part of piety, for me at least, involved valiantly seeking out discomfort in the name of holiness. But as an HSP, I don’t have to look very far to find discomfort. It’s a given in this deeply feeling body. So now I indulge in any little thing I can manage to make myself more comfortable. Maybe it’s a sip of water or finding a more comfortable chair. Comfort, I’m now convinced, is not a slippery slope into hedonism. It’s a precious refuge for our sensitive bodies.
7. Indulge in self-compassion
A big part of my spiritual journey has been to shift from constantly berating myself for all the ways I fall short of a religious ideal to instead treating myself with gentleness and compassion. I’m learning to have my own back instead of constantly tearing myself down. I’m practicing interrupting all the painful self-talk I used to do with a simple message: “I’m here, I’ve got you, this is hard and you are not alone.”
8. Indulge in sensitivity breaks
When things are getting to be too much, indulge in a sensitivity break. If the situation warrants it, set an alarm on your phone, excuse yourself, and step out for 5-10, even 15 minutes if you can. Make these breaks as simple or elaborate as you like – maybe you listen to a favorite song or two or read a few pages of a book on your phone. I tend to prefer having a snack and a big glass of water and just sitting in silence, giving my body and mind a chance to breathe. When you’re out, use a bathroom stall if you must but I like to dream bigger – an empty balcony or spare room, someplace where I feel like I am truly sneaking away. It’s just divine!
9. Indulge your favorite sensory experiences
We spend a lot of time dealing with light that’s too bright, noise that’s too loud, smells that are too strong, the list goes on and on. What sensory experiences can you offer yourself that utterly delight you? Don’t just focus on turning down the dial on stimuli that overwhelms you, indulgence in the sensory experiences that bring you joy!
10. Indulge in crying
Listen, HSPs have their own rules about crying. Go ahead and forget about what the rest of the world says about it. Crying is one of the most integrated somatic experiences you can have, and no training or guidance is required. Just go ahead and cry if you want to!