The holiday season often evokes images of warmth, joy, and togetherness. However, for highly sensitive people (HSPs), this time of the year can also bring about overwhelming emotions, overstimulation, and stress. The heightened sensitivity that characterizes HSPs can amplify both the positive and negative aspects of the holidays. But fear not! With the right strategies and self-care practices, highly sensitive individuals can navigate this festive season with grace, embracing the joy while safeguarding their physical, emotional, and mental well being.
Understanding Sensitivity during the Holidays
Highly sensitive people possess a deeply perceptive nature, noticing subtleties others might miss. This acute awareness can lead to feeling overwhelmed by crowded spaces, loud noises, intense emotions, and the general hustle and bustle associated with the holidays.
Self-Care Tips for Highly Sensitive People:
1. Set Boundaries:
Learn to say "no" when necessary. Prioritize events and gatherings that align with your comfort levels and energy reserves. It's okay to decline invitations if they feel emotionally, mentally, or physically taxing or overwhelming.
2. Communicate Your Needs:
Openly communicate your feelings and needs to trusted friends and family members. Expressing your concerns or limits can help them understand and support you better.
3. Create Quiet Spaces:
Designate a safe haven within your home or find quiet spots at gatherings where you can take breaks and recharge. Stepping away from the noise and chaos for a few moments can work wonders for restoring your equilibrium.
4. Manage Expectations:
Recognize that not every moment needs to be perfect. Embrace imperfections and understand that it's okay if things don't go as planned. Allow yourself the freedom to experience the holidays in your unique way.
5. Embrace Gratitude:
Expressing gratitude can shift your mindset and bring forth a sense of appreciation, helping to counteract overwhelming emotions.
6. Prioritize Self-Care:
Ensure you're getting enough rest, eating healthily, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Don't overlook self-care practices, especially during this potentially stressful time.
Celebrating the Holidays with Grace
Despite the challenges, being highly sensitive during the holidays can also be a gift. Your depth of perception allows for rich, meaningful experiences that others might overlook. Embrace your unique perspective and find joy in the simple moments.
Engage in Activities that Nourish Your Soul:
Whether it's spending quality time with loved ones, enjoying quiet evenings with a book, or indulging in creative pursuits, prioritize activities that bring you genuine happiness and fulfillment.
Practice Gracious Self-Acceptance:
Accept yourself fully, embracing both the strengths and vulnerabilities that come with being highly sensitive. Understand that your sensitivity is not a flaw but a beautiful facet of your personality.
Spread Kindness and Compassion:
Use your heightened empathy to spread kindness and compassion during the holidays. Engage in acts of giving or volunteering, helping those in need and fostering a sense of community.
Sensitivity Management and Tools
For highly sensitive individuals, managing sensory stimulation such as smells, lights, and sound can significantly impact their well-being. Here are some practical strategies and products that can help mitigate these sensory challenges during the holiday season:
This first list is especially for those who are traveling:
1. Masks for smell sensitivity: we would love to have scent free zones to access, however that isn’t yet possible on planes, trains, buses, or even in cars. Purchasing masks that filter out scents can make a huge difference during travel. Here is a link: Cambridge Mask
2. Noise Canceling headphones: are a game changer. We don’t always think about how many noises our brain and nervous system process. On an airline flight the background noise level on average is between 78-85 dB. This is like sitting next to a lawnmower for however long your flight is! Canceling out sounds or using decibel adjusting ear plugs can make a world of difference on your energy levels post travel.
2. Blue Light Blocking Glasses: wear blue light-blocking glasses, especially when using screens or in environments with harsh artificial lighting, to reduce eye strain and discomfort.
At home tools:
1. Dimmer Switches and Soft Lighting:
Install dimmer switches or use lamps with soft, warm-toned bulbs to control the brightness in your living spaces. It can also add a fun candle lit vibe during the holidays.
2. Personal Fragrance Alternatives:
Choose unscented or hypoallergenic personal care products, including soaps, lotions, and detergents, to minimize exposure to strong fragrances.
3. Quiet Zones:
Designate quiet zones in your home or identify serene areas at gatherings where you can retreat and find respite from loud noises.
The holiday season is a time of celebration, but it's equally crucial for highly sensitive individuals to prioritize self-care and honor their unique needs. By implementing these tips and approaches, HSPs can navigate the holidays in a way that brings joy, fulfillment, and a deeper connection with themselves and others. Remember, your sensitivity is a gift that adds depth and richness to the holiday experience—embrace it and celebrate in your own beautiful way.
If you would like ideas of products or resources, check out this list we compiled for you: Product Resource Guide for Low Toxicity Homes and Sensitive Bodies