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HSP/HSS? How to Manage Your Energy in the Time of an Outbreak

For HSPs/HSS, it’s extra easy allow the news cycle to dictate your moods, energy rhythms and patterns throughout the day. The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented event in our lifetime, so it’s completely normal to feel thrown off and uncertain – and to hang on to every news article. Each headline seems to bring another low or feeling of doom.

Yet maintaining a semblance of normalcy and stability is a must for mental health. We must remind ourselves that feeling more doom isn’t helpful, least of all to ourselves, even as we inevitably tune into the collective sense of anxiety and worry.

Know that by being kind to ourselves, we contribute to the collective as well. We can then harness this energy into responding instead of reacting. Many of us are in some form of self-isolation now, and it can be challenging to know what to do and where to channel our energy when we’re spending all day at home. Here are some tips on managing your energy and practicing coming back to your optimal zone of stimulation.

Managing the cycles of under/overstimulation

  • Especially for HSP/HSS, this can be an especially challenging time staying within your optimal zone of stimulation*, especially when you are stuck at home, which cuts you off from your usual activities and sources of stimulation. It can take time to recalibrate your new normal, and a big part of this is learning how to manage your energy.
  • *Optimal zone of stimulation: when you feel focused, calm, able to carry out tasks, complete your work without too much strain or stress.
    • That said, these tips aren’t about ‘being productive’ or holding yourself to the same standard of how you were operating pre-outbreak. Practicing identifying and returning to your optimal state of stimulation can help you retain a sense of normalcy and a degree of control over your day-to-day life, which can in turn keep your mood up.

Identifying the cycle:

  • Signs of feeling under-stimulated: boredom, depressed mood, lack of energy, procrastination, feeling lethargic, fatigued. 
  • The brain then wants to return to a state of optimal stimulation, which could prompt you to scroll on your phone, obsessively checking social media and news outlets; you could also overeat or start ruminating incessantly in order to get a hit of stimulation.
  • However, these activities can quickly lead to a state of overstimulation
  • Signs of overstimulation: Feelings of overwhelm, panic, helplessness, anger, anxiety, fatigue after doing all of the activities above
  • Exhausted, you then lose all motivation and energy, and may end up procrastinating on tasks and priorities that you had intended to focus on

The solution: break the cycle

  • Prepare for this cycle to happen. Make a to-do list when you’re feeling calm and focused (e.g. early in the morning), including prioritizing tasks. 
  • List making and strategic planning isn’t an ideal activity for an antsy state of mind, so it’s good to figure out when you feel most calm and do some planning and strategizing during those times.
  • When in need of stimulation, instead of checking on your phone or doing things that will quickly overstimulate you, pick an item on your list and check them off instead, so you don’t have to spend time thinking of activities when you’re already feeling the need for stimulation, which could easily lead to distraction and going down the news update rabbit hole.
  • If you don’t have any tasks/priorities in mind, here’s an idea: things that require you to move your body and hands are ideal. Activities that require you to move your body are grounding; you can also use them as a mindfulness practice. Organizing your sock drawer, tending to your laundry, cleaning. Focus on how you’re folding. Really look at the items you’re organizing; who knows, you might decide to do an impromptu spring cleaning. 
  • Physical exertion is always helpful. Doing a few squats, taking on a 14-day abs challenge: thank goddess for the Internet because YouTube offers such a wealth of information. Picture your energy coming back down and into your body when you’ve been overthinking and all your energy is focused in your head.
  • Crystals that are useful for grounding your energy and boosting your creativity: Tiger’s Eye, Rhodochrosite, Rhondonite, Carnelian

Holding on to a sense of stability in your energy patterns, even as uncertainty swirls all around us, is helpful to the collective. Here breathing in and out with you (from a safe distance).

Much love,

Kerrie

HSP Sensitivity

Upgrading relationships in 2020

All relationships that aren’t an equal give-and-take will no longer fly in 2020. In the past, being locked into unequal power dynamics and drama triangles used to take ages to play out. For example, staying together for financial security; settling for a partner and denying oneself of true needs and desires; being friends with someone because you rely on them to feel better about yourself; being around someone out of guilt and obligation. It was pretty much the norm and in some paradigms, still is – but for many of us, it will become increasingly difficult to stay in these relationships without pain and discomfort.

Do a quick relationship audit:

  • Are there any relationships that consistently leave you feeling drained, resentful, annoyed etc?
  • What are some of the reasons/beliefs that keep bringing you back to this person?
    • “We have been friends for years/we are (insert family member role) and this is what loyalty looks like.
    • “I need validation from this person to feel good about myself.”
    • “This person needs me to help them with their lives, if not, they will (insert unfavorable outcome).”
  • What are you seeking from them/what are they seeking from you that they have neglected to give to themselves?

Remember, all of us are connected to Source. None of us have a monopoly on truth, healing, love, and peace. We are not here to be any one person’s battery source. When we feel like we need another to validate or see us, that is a sign we need to stop, and tend to where a wound is playing out again. We need to stop and see ourselves and give ourselves the affirmation we need.

You are worthy of equal, loving relationships. These relationships must be freely entered into; any party is free to leave at any time. (No matter what cultural programming dictates.)

Getting to the core of what holds a certain relationships together (usually a fear-based belief) will help you to unravel the knot. Stepping out of the transaction will allow you to see the true nature of the relationship – do they return because they care about you? Or do they stop coming round because they are no longer getting what they need from you? This only works if you do your part of the homework too: will you be around this person if you can no longer get what you want from them? What’s the fear that allowed you to hang on for all this time?

The ability to be unflinchingly honest with yourself is a practice. It takes ego strength to be able to look at yourself without breaking from the pain. It is worth it to free yourself and step more firmly into your power. But, if you are able to do so, the healing that takes place can be immense.

Relationships that are ready to evolve along with you will adjust.

Also, be compassionate with yourself during this process. Most of us don’t create these relationships on purpose; they usually arise out of an inaccurate belief about our own inadequacy. We falsely believe that another soul can offer us what we lack, when in actual fact we are whole and sovereign, and always connected to Source no matter what – and it is Source/Universe/All That Is that will bring us the places, things and opportunities we need to grow and evolve. This will be a year to take another step in freeing yourself from unequal and unfulfilling relationships.

 

HSP Self-care

Tired? Me, too.

I see overfunctioning (a.k.a Doing Too Much) like the glue that flows in and keeps all the moving pieces together. These pieces may in fact be broken tiles, not neat, square ones. Some have jagged edges, some are oversized, some are badly chipped and on the verge of crumbling. Yet glue is poured over these disparate pieces, filling in the cracks, keeping these tiles together. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing thing, but it’s there. It keeps everything together.

…Even when it’s not supposed to be that way.

Maybe some tiles are meant to be replaced. Maybe some reshuffling is needed. Maybe some tiles need to be re-shaped, filed down. But the glue comes in, fills in every crevice, traps every piece, and pulls them all together. On the outside, this may seem like a beautiful thing. People pass by and say, oh, this mosaic looks wonderful, it looks intact, things are being kept together.

But maybe the overall intention wasn’t supposed to be a mosaic. Maybe the end product was supposed to be the tiles on your bathroom floor. Maybe they were all meant to be neat and square, not jumbled up and messy. But the glue came in and provided a solution… even if the solution didn’t exactly meet the end goal.

I used to be this glue, reflexively. To some extent, I still have to be super conscious about not being the overfunctioning one. (I fail often.) I see problems and I want to fix them. I analyze issues and then I want to jump in and provide solutions.

This isn’t all bad. Change can happen as a result. This impulse is in fact a neutral one, and can even be a positive one when applied with discernment.

But sometimes there are reasons why things are a certain way. Some things cannot be fixed by an external party, especially when human beings with free will are involved.

Maybe some have chosen a reality for themselves and nothing you do or say will be able to shift this reality. Maybe some need to be able to learn by making their own mistakes.

Maybe all that is needed is for you to play your part – and that’s it. Maybe going above and beyond isn’t always necessary. Perceiving a problem doesn’t always mean that you are the one who’s meant to provide a solution to the problem…

Especially when burn out and resentment occur. Especially when you end up taking on the lion’s share of the work, all the time – in all areas of your life.

How does one take a step back?

Because of how quickly I act and how impulsive I can be, I often realize I’m overfunctioning when I start getting grouchy, angry and really tired. Like, exhausted. I usually realize that it’s because I have:

  1. Set some kind of expectation or standard for myself and others that I wasn’t consciously aware of, and I’m now singlehandedly trying to push everyone to meet that invisible standard I set in my mind…
  2. Instead of communicating it, I have decided that it’s easier to do it ALL BY MYSELF
  3. Some problem is causing me angst and frustration, and I have subconsciously decided that in order to quell the angst, I have to fix the issue (instead of simply sitting with the emotion for a bit) and taking my time to decide on the best response.

Then at some point, when I finally get exhausted, I may all of a sudden decide that I’m DONE, and get maybe just a tiny little bit passive aggressive about it. I feel like I’m the victim because POOR ME LOOK HOW MUCH I’M DOING.

Sometimes though, I find that I am merely responding to the subtle dynamics that have already been set up, i.e. the drama triangle. I have slipped into a role that has been energetically set up for whatever reason… waiting for the perfect person who chronically over-functions to take on the mantle.

PSA: Girls are often put in the role of the over-functioner, and are socialized to respond to unconscious needs. Sensitivity comes into play because sensitivity allows people to be more perceptive, and to more quickly gather the subtleties of any context they find themselves in, including any problems that need fixing. Family of origin stuff also come into play: if you grew up playing a certain role in your family, familiarity alone can keep you stuck in the loop of doing the same things over and over again… with the same end results. Honestly, I can analyze this from 50 other angles and I’m positive I will have the opportunity to write about this again after yet another cycle of overfunctioning, so stay tuned! I just fail better and better each time. 😉

Each time it happens I realize I simply have more work to do in holding back, refraining, sitting with emotions, and getting to know my impulsive side. There is no quick fix. No one-size-fits-all rule. None of the whole this is WRONG and this is the absolutely RIGHT way to do it.

It also means a shifting of my lens… Instead of looking for things to fix, I think, what brings me joy? This is also way more radical than it sounds, having an orientation towards joy.

Let me know if you are similarly afflicted by over-functioning tendencies too and what you do (or don’t do) when you fall into a pattern…