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).