In sensitive individuals such as Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) and Empaths, the nervous system is much more reactive to its environment. I have written about this subject and how this connects to autoimmune disease here. But in this post, I want to specially talk about how to manage the sensitive reactivity of our nervous system especially at this intense point we find ourselves in today. Many of us are waking up to the reality of the world we are living in (waking up from the 3D). We are seeing that what we thought was our reality is anything but. We are seeing that we have been lied to. Systems that we thought were here for our good turned out to be the opposite. We have realised that there has been (and still is) a war on consciousness. This has been going on for a LONG time but it’s intensity has accelerated dramatically since March of this year. We are unravelling truths daily. Spiritual awakenings of any kind are a messy process (in my opinion). When you hear the words ‘spiritual awakening’ you think of a monk sitting on top of a beautiful mountain meditating. This certainly wasn’t what mine looked like (or currently looks like!). It’s more of a frazzled mess!
There is a lot of freedom that comes out of ‘waking up’ to the truth. But at the same time there are a LOT of hard truths to face. Many of them seem too painful to even look at. This can be a rather traumatising experience for most people, let alone if you are a HSP/Empath! This can then set off our ‘fight-or-flight’ response aka sympathetic nervous system, where our body goes into survival mode. When in survival mode, the body has no time for digesting food or healing (high stress has been shown to inhibit production of thyroid hormone). The body just wants to fight or run. It is dangerous for us to be in this mode for long periods of time (especially those of us with thyroid and immune system imbalances). But if we are being alarmed by shocking information on a regular basis, this is what can happen.
Therefore, it is more important than ever to dedicate time for SELF-CARE. This isn’t just a nicety; this is an ABSOLUTE MUST. If you are HSP/Empath, you will need to keep on top of this daily. Make self-care into a daily ritual.
Remember: In order for the body to heal it must be in ‘rest and digest’ mode aka the relaxation response / parasympathetic mode. So if your ‘fight-or flight’ response is constantly being set off by information you are seeing on social media or the news, it can’t heal.
12 ways to calm your nervous system and activate the parasympathetic state:
Give yourself breaks from social media and any news (even news that you resonate with or feel is true) – A constant barrage of information (even if it is true) can easily overwhelm a HSP.
Following on from the previous point, give yourself some moments of SILENCE throughout the day. In this culture we feel like we have to constantly be reading or listening to something. This is all fine, but we also then need bits of down-time too. This is good for our brain health.
Connect with like-minded people who are going through the same thing (there are a lot more of us than you think!). Remember you are NOT alone in this. So many people are going through a huge awakening right now and many people have already been through one. I love this video by The Holistic Psychologist on coping with the 'dark night of the soul'.
Put your phone on Airplane mode when you’re not using it. You don’t need to be available to everyone ALL of the time. Set a time for when you will stop using your phone at the end of the day, for example 8pm. Ideally you would leave it minimum 2 hours before bed.
SLEEP is SO IMPORTANT. QUALITY sleep is key. Many people don’t realise that they may have been asleep for 8 hours, but it may have not been quality sleep. Also, if you are feeling fatigued during the day due to the intense energies right now, allow yourself to have a nap. In order to have a better quality sleep, practice good bedtime hygiene: Make the room as dark as possible, remove any electricals close to your head, turn off WIFI, don’t eat anything at least 2 hours before going to bed, keep your phone outside of the room AWAY FROM YOUR BODY (and on airplane mode if possible).
If you are looking at a blue screen in the evening (either laptop/phone/TV), change your screen to ‘night mode’ (if possible on the device) and consider purchasing a pair of blue-light blocker glasses. If your body is absorbing blue light at night it will think it is daytime. Therefore you are more likely to produce more cortisol (stress hormone) and makes it more difficult to get into that parasympathetic state.
Journal – get all your thoughts, worries, to-do list down onto paper. Don’t try to carry it all in your head.
Body scan – scan your body with your mind’s eye noticing any tense areas or where you may be clenching. Soften each of those areas by relaxing them with your attention and breathing into them. This works best when done regularly throughout the day – this will save it from building up into painful muscle tension later. (Common areas people hold tension are in their jaw, their shoulders, and their abdomen).
Guided meditation/visualisation – this is a highly effective way of calming your nervous system down. There are so many to choose from on Youtube – one of my favourites is this channel. You can do one in the morning just after you wake up and then do one before you go to bed.
Yoga / Breathwork / Tai Chi / Qi Gong – these are all fantastic ways of getting you out of your mind and back into your body. All of these techniques make you focus on your breath. I would suggest you do one of these at least once a day. You don’t even need to make a big thing out of it. 5 minute breaks each hour just doing a few stretches whilst deepening your breath is SO HEALING.
Wrap yourself up in a cosy blanket and focus on the feeling of warmth, safety and protection. Feeling unsafe is quite common among HSPs and so it is important that we listen to our body and give it that feeling of safety it needs. This also helps to ground us which in turn calms our nervous system.
Get out into nature every day (if possible for you right now). It is so important to spend time in nature - there are studies showing the calming and healing effects of just looking at images of nature. Being mindful and present whilst in nature is a really effective way of calming your nervous system. I can't emphasise enough how healing this is.
The main message to all you lovely HSPs and Empaths is if you are feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed - go back to basics! Turn everything off and just go within yourself. Close your eyes and listen to your breath. Count your breath and just focus on this. Consume less. Be present. This takes us back to our more natural state where we can actually listen to ourselves and be grounded in our truth. We are then more able to withstand the storm if we have strong roots.