Tag Archives: sensory processing

Helpful Routines For Highly Sensitive People

In case you haven’t heard the term, highly sensitive people, or HSPs, are people who are especially sensitive, just as the name implies.  They also are known to have a high sensory processing sensitivity.  This means HSPs can be very sensitive to all sorts of things such as textures, loud noises, & bright lights.  They also are very in tune with other people, & are often easily stressed by tense situations & violence.  Due to their sensitivity, highly sensitive people can become overwhelmed very easily.  There are very good parts of being a highly sensitive person though.  They tend to be very creative & empathic people with good quality relationships & a deep appreciation for beauty in all its forms. 

In my experience of talking with many people who have been abused by narcissists, many victims of narcissistic abuse are highly sensitive people, which is why I have chosen to discuss this topic.

Due to the nature of being highly sensitive, life easily can become overwhelming sometimes.  Highly sensitive people need to develop healthy routines to maintain good mental health & prevent burn out.

I firmly believe a close relationship with God to be vital.  The closer you are to Him, the more peaceful you naturally feel because you know He is in charge.  He also will help you figure out ways you can avoid burn out.

Getting rest is essential.  HSPs need more rest than most people, due to their senses working so hard.  While it may not sound it, that really can be exhausting.  It’s important to get good sleep, so investing in a comfortable bed with good quality linens is money well spent.  You also may want to listen to soft music or nature sounds to help you fall asleep.  Pillow speakers can be a great investment for those who sleep with a partner.

Part of getting rest is prioritizing down time.  After a long day, it’s very important to take time to relax & decompress.  What can you do to enjoy your down time?  Pray?  Read?  Listen to music?  Knit?  Think about what helps you feel calm & participate in that often, preferably daily.

Reevaluate your schedule.  While being busy is valued in today’s culture, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  Being too busy reduces the ability to enjoy down time, can interfere with sleep & cause a plethora of mental & physical health problems.  What can you eliminate from your schedule?  Are there ways you can at least cut back on certain activities?  Is there anything you do that you can get help with doing from your spouse, kids or coworkers?

Reevaluate your boundaries.  Many highly sensitive people are so in tune with the needs of those around them, they ignore their own needs.  This clearly is an unhealthy habit!  While it’s great to be there for those you love, it’s also important to take care of yourself.  There is nothing wrong with limiting what you do for other people.  In fact, doing so is a very loving thing to do for you as well as them.

Consider your home.  Home should be your sanctuary, away from all cares of the world, where you can relax & be at peace.  Does that describe your home?  Clutter can create anxiety so if you have clutter, clear it out & your anxiety should diminish greatly.  If you aren’t happy with how it looks, make changes to turn your home into your personal sanctuary.  Those changes may be as simple as decluttering or as drastic as repainting every room.

Start journaling.  Journaling is a wonderful thing.  There are no hard & fast rules to it.  Your journal can be as fancy or as plain as you like.  It can be online only or a physical book.  You can write as much or as little as you like, as often as you like & in whatever style you like.  Some people write as if they are writing a letter to a friend when they journal or they write out their prayers.  Others draw pictures or cut out pictures from magazines & such then paste in the pages of their journals.  There are also countless journaling prompts available online to help if you get stuck. 

If these suggestions seem too much, then don’t try to do them all at once.  Start by doing one.  Add another when you feel ready.  The changes you make will help you physically & mentally.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Face Mask Related Anxiety

**Before reading this, please know I am not trying to start any pro-mask or anti-mask debates.  Please leave those comments off this post!  If I see any, they will be removed quickly.  Thank you!**

Life sure has changed during this time of social distancing & wearing face coverings!  One thing that I personally have struggled with is masks.  For some reason, I have never been able to wear those things.  I’ve tried many times over the years to wear them while doing certain household activities with no success.  I would put one on, & my heart began to race as a panic attack quickly followed.  Learning we were required to wear them in stores about broke my heart.  Finally, I have been able to get my agoraphobia under control enough to where I could go into public places alone but I can’t because of my reaction to wearing masks.  ARRGGGGHHH!!!! 

Recently I got fed up about this obnoxious mask induced anxiety, & googled this situation.  I figured it can’t just be me.  There must be others out there with this same problem.  Apparently there are!  Plenty! 

According to the various articles I read many people struggle with wearing masks.  I don’t mean the people you would expect to struggle, such as those with respiratory problems like asthma.  Many perfectly healthy people struggle.  Some folks have been the victim of a crime where the perpetrator wore a mask or bandana, so seeing others wearing them or even wearing them themselves can trigger panic attacks.

Other folks have been through very difficult & even traumatic medical procedures, so seeing or wearing masks is a reminder of that trauma.

Some folks have sensory processing issues, such as those with brain injuries, which can make wearing a mask feel as if it is smothering them.

Still others who panic about face masks fall into a different category.  Victims of child abuse.  There are a few suspected reasons for this behavior.

  • When most of a person’s face is covered, it can be difficult to pick up on subtle cues to their moods.  Children of abusive parents often rely on giving their children such cues to make the children behave as they want them to.  Missing those cues resulted in punishment.  Being unable to read those cues, even years after the abuse, can create a great deal of fear.
  • If someone tried to strangle or suffocate a child, or if a child was locked in a small room or closet, masks can recreate the claustrophobic feeling.
  • Some abusive parents put their hands over their children’s mouths as a punishment.  That too can cause panic with masks.

I found some things that have helped me to work with this mask induced anxiety, & I hope these tips help you too.

Since I can’t wear a mask, I have compromised with a bandana.  Yes, I realize I look like a gunfighter in the old west, but at least I can wear it without as much panic as I would have with a mask.  Bandanas are open at the bottom too, which means if panic starts, I can pull the bottom away from my face slightly.  This helps me feel less claustrophobic while still offering some covering as protection to others.  It also helps me to calm down.

Reminding myself that I can still breathe, I’m safe, I’m not smothered & am safe is helpful too.  Grounding behaviors like this are very helpful during flashbacks, but they also can be during panic attacks.

I put on my bandana at the last possible moment before entering a place where masks are required, & I remove my bandana as quickly as I can when out of those places to minimize the time I wear it as much as possible.  I also remove it as needed by going somewhere private, such as a bathroom stall or my car.

It also helps to avoid wearing masks in hot places when possible, because wearing them can make you very hot.  That can add to panic or upset sensory processing issues.

I also don’t go into public places alone.  My husband is very helpful in keeping me focused if I get too panicky.  Having another safe person with you can help a lot in this situation too! 

I hope these tips help you manage your mask related anxiety!  xoxo

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Filed under Mental Health