Lately, I have been speaking about one way to reduce anxiety (a normal feeling for HSPs): Look at the big picture. I advise it now more than ever: Maintain the big picture. How?
Ask yourself, what are your real risks? (Don’t minimize, but don’t catastrophize either.)
What will things be like a year from now? Even two months from now?
Hey, what amazing times these are. How will we all look back on them?
What would this look if you were on Mars? Could see it as a robin?
I promise you, this will not last forever. Things always change. You can count on that, said the Buddha. If things seem to be changing for the worse, you can count on them also changing for the better.
Think of all the ways that things may end up better someday because of this event. Do it now, as an exercise in Big Reality.
How else do you keep the big picture? Partly, you do other things. If you are staying home more, as most of us are, use this time to go inward. What a great opportunity. The research finds that most HSPs agree that they have a “rich, complex inner life.” Feed it. Spend extra time, for example, meditating, journaling, attending to your dreams. Straighten, clean, and beautify the rooms in which you are living. Then take full notice of the things you love about this place. It helps the inner life as well as the outer one.
Your Intense Feelings
If your emotions are sometimes intense, accept that this is who you are. Do not be ashamed of it. The reality of your trait is part of the big picture. But as part of your turning inward, see if you can identify what parts of the situation trigger you most. That people are behaving so strangely? (That gets me—the scenes of panic buying in grocery stores.) That you feel so unsafe out in the world? Being shut in? You may learn something about yourself as you examine these specific parts of your feelings and where they may come from in your past.
At the same time, if the emotions are too much for you, do what you can to regulate them. A great way to regulate emotion is to turn your attention to other things. That, too, is the bigger picture: There’s more to life than this “pandemic” (what a scary word). If you haven’t yet watched Sensitive and in Love, do it. Or watch Sensitive the Untold Story again. This week on behalf of the Foundation for the Study of HSPs and the producers watch our movies and pay what you want ($0.99 minimum donation is requested to cover 3rd party distribution costs)! Just pick a movie and enjoy! Share with your friends and family! Refresh your inner HSP. To view movies visit: www.sensitivethemovie.com
Once you are on a roll, watch other super positive movies, such as It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I just watched it and am still quoting it: Mrs. Rogers on her husband’s “sainthood.” “Don’t call him a saint, because that implies what he does is unattainable. We all can do it with some effort.” And Mr. Rogers on death: “It’s only human. If you can mention it, you can manage it.”
You Are Still a Highly Sensitive Social Animal
If you are home alone, remember you need some social interaction on a regular basis. It’s like food—we all need some every day, even or maybe especially introverts. At least connect with someone briefly, even about business. Better, spend some extra time doing video or phone chats with friends and family. If that’s a short list, try quarantinechat.com. You can talk to anyone shut in by the virus, anywhere in the world, whether you yourself are actually quarantined or not. It’s free. Visit it at: https://quarantinechat.com/
If you are home with your family, maybe more than usual with schools closed, enjoy this time of special connection as much as you can. But remember you need downtime on a regular basis.
Please, stay away from excessive media coverage and social media. Ask someone less sensitive, someone you trust, to monitor the news for you, someone who is addicted to it (and get off the stuff yourself). Ask them to let you know if there is any solid information you really should know.
Always Back to the Big Picture
Remember you are an animal, not just a social one. You need to go outside in nature. Maybe sometimes it will just be for a moment, on a balcony, on your front step, or through a window. Look into the sky or at a tree. But try to get out for walks too (if you are allowed). Every day. Time in nature is another kind of necessary food, especially for HSPs.
Finally, remember the big picture. Did I say that? When you think in a more expansive way, you will feel calmer. And when you feel calmer–through meditation, nature, or whatever–you will have a bigger picture. Then, be the emotional leader you were born to be and radiate that calm to others. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (These were FDR’s words to the U.S. when he announced entering WW II, and even that ended eventually, didn’t it?) Calm and kindness. Calm is as contagious as fear. Maybe when others are grabbing things off the shelves, you could start asking people what they are short of and share some of yours. (I am sure as an HSP, with all your creativity, you can think of ways to do without toilet paper!)
Your new mantra: BIG PICTURE!!!!
Hey, we can look forward to another HS men’s weekend in 2021. The 16 at this one have already asked for another so they can come back. It’s in the big picture.
May peace, calm, and kindness be with you,
Thank you so much for this! This is really helpful. I especially loved the part about radiating calmness to others. I love being useful and helpful to others and as my workplace is shut down I have struggled. My job is helping others and now I can’t do that. But this reminded me that I can be helpful to others by being calm and kind.
From far Southern Chile, thanks so much. Your words are very much aprecciated in these moments. Thanks again, Carolina
Arnold Zeman says
Links don’t seem to work for free viewing of videos cited.
Unfortunately, there is a slight change in offering the movies for free. We found we had to cover 3rd party distribution costs. So now there will be a minimum fee of .99 cents to view movies. I just updated the blog post with this…
At the same time, if the emotions are too much for you, do what you can to regulate them. A great way to regulate emotion is to turn your attention to other things. That, too, is the bigger picture: There’s more to life than this “pandemic” (what a scary word). If you haven’t yet watched Sensitive and in Love, do it. Or watch Sensitive the Untold Story again. This week on behalf of the Foundation for the Study of HSPs and the producers watch our movies and pay what you want ($0.99 minimum donation is requested to cover 3rd party distribution costs)! Just pick a movie and enjoy! Share with your friends and family! To view movies visit: http://www.sensitivethemovie.com
Where is the link for posting root level comments? All I can see is the ‘Reply’ link to existing comments. My display renders a little weird with high contrast mode, so I suspect the comment button might be invisible to me and hiding somewhere.
Anne Marie Dueck says
FYI: Upon clicking the link, I discovered that the minimum viewing fee is actually $2.99, not 99 cents.
Thank you SO very much for this, I was really struggling this evening so it has helped immensely.
I have been quite calm until this evening when the absorption of the panic of the world has really affected me. Trying to avoid the news however proving quite difficult at the moment.
Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us Elaine, it is very much appreciated.
Emma Mary Gathergood says
Thanks so much for this Elaine, very helpful. As a Co-ordinator for Regenerative Culture for our local XR group i have just come off a Zoom call. where for the first time our fortnightly study group couldn’t meet in person, but had a lovely supportive interactive Zoom call. So while we are all self isolating, lets commit to carrying on with all our groups but on-line instead of in person. i feel nourished by this experience.
Sheryl Worthington says
Thanks so much for this blog. As I travel with a flight of 8 people (only), I see some face masks and continue to wash my hands between connecting flights. Seeing the bigger picture and knowing this is just a moment in time surely helps.
I can physically feel the panic in my skin. I am a clinician – I practice mindfulness and EFT/tapping – I have felt the “weight of the world” since my childhood. I have never been able to watch end of the world movies. With tapping, I can feel the big picture much of the day and then it comes – the panic- I am feeling unable to shake the sensations in my body. I’ve known I was highly sensitive since childhood – I’ve studied your work…. your words bring me comfort – so, thank you 💕
What is tapping a out?
I’m new to the HSP group.
Gail, tapping is a process of using meridian points to clear/ manage emotional distress. See Brad Yates on YouTube. He has a lot of new short, free videos for these times. Take care.
Jen Y says
Thank you SO much for this! These tips are really helpful and perfectly timed. I already feel more calm upon reading your writing. Thanks, Elaine!
– Jen (NZ)
Nice to see another HSP posting from NZ, Jen! I am too (Hamilton) & love Elaine’s work 🙂
Patrick Martel says
Hi Elaime … thanks you for your words of wisdom and all that you do for us HSP ‘ ers … May you and your familly stay healthy in this time of change …. For me to ward off negative thoughts … I think of the positive things that are occuring … like reducing our carbon footprint and slowing down global warming … and bringing out the best in some of us …. even President Trump seems to be showing signs of love and compassion … All tje Best … Pat
Joe Keleher says
Being HSP is a gift and maybe more so when health matters are concerned.
Over a dozen years ago, I had a medical condition related to mercury toxicity and recovered, published an account of my recovery and also looked at the historic patterning between mercury exposure and symptoms. My research and, more importantly, my recovery may not have happened if I wasn’t HSP; I think feeling the symptoms in a magnified manner forced me into action. It was a horrific and difficult time in my life; I had to keep taking deep breaths and forcing a focus on gratitude for all of small pleasures of life. In hindsight being so extremely sick was actually a gift.
Fast forward to the past week- I felt overwhelmed by the impact and drastic changes that took place in my world due to the virus. I tried to follow my weekly routines of doing laundry and grocery shopping after a long week of my job as a classroom teacher. Laundry was the same but shopping felt hectic and uneasy. I had a couple of days of worry and discombobulation, then I went back to my wood shop and started on some projects. I just kept making things (one piece of furniture, several cutting boards and the list just keeps growing). I listened to the birds outside. I noticed the quiet changes in my community. I felt a kind of peace.
As an HSP I note all I feel emotionally and physically. I take steps towards being resourceful and patient. I empathize for those who have more challenges than I do. Looking at the big picture is important but also taking note of the small things does the soul good.
Thank you so very much for this post. It brought tears of relief to my eyes….relief of recognizing that “this too will pass” in the grand scheme of things, peace of knowing that everything I am experiencing in normal for this HSP soul and encouraged to do the things I am already doing!
Dear Elaine, thank you very much for your timely comments, which are both helpful and reassuring. I’m an HSP living in the Netherlands, and daily life is slowly grinding to a halt here, it all seems surreal. But all will pass, and so will this…
I hadn’t realised you made two movies about being an HSP, will definitely watch those now.
Kind regards, Joost
Johanna weiss says
Thank you SO much Elaine. The example you mentioned of being concerned about going to the supermarket being confronted by the panic buying really expressed by exact concern, and you have also elucidated how to approach this. .thank you so much…
Thank you Elaine for everything you have done for us highly sensitives.
Here in Finland persons aged 70 or more are told to stay at home. I do not belong to that group yet, but I am self-isolating most of the time. In this situation I have not found it hard (after all, I am an introvert).
For all: let us be safe, let us stay healthy.
Dear Elaine !
PRICELESS and essential to read…
This could be printed as an inspirational
card accompanied by a beautiful, simple
graphic… It completely uplifted my spirit
and focused my thoughts… I’m giving
myself thirty minutes a day to think about
the current gloomy situation. That’s it !
The rest of the time I’m saturating my
mind with interesting and beautiful
ruminations. It’s the ONLY method for
a happy day, EVEN if worries appear to
have no solutions right now.
Claire King says
Thank you, Elaine. I asked my partner to read this. She said she is too weighted by my sensitivity right now to do so, and I get that. I had referred her earlier to “HSP’s and Those Who Love Them” and she said , “ See? Even in that the HSP comes first.”
Hard in times like this.
I needed this blog post tonight! I feel very calm and confident during the day, and then when I start thinking of the following day, I start to feel panic and have a little pitty party with myself. I love your positive approach!!!
Jennifer, Minnesota, USA says
Thank you for sharing this blog specifically about these unprecedented times we are living through right now. I am grateful for any forms of connection I can find and this was a great way to connect with others today.
This is such a great blog, and I feel very lucky to be in a time when all of these feelings and thought processes have been recognised in the HSP. I have to admit though, as much as I am definitely a big picture person, I’m feeling incredibly overwhelmed- not by what is happening outside so much as how much more everyone is now communicating online, through text, calls, Apps etc etc. I thought self isolation would be easy for someone like me but having to home school my daughter ( something I’ve taken very seriously and over planned for of course), manage illness, even nits recently and be constantly peppered by family and friends, I am feeling incredibly burnt out already and there’s a long way to go! I know a lot of techniques to calm myself down, be grateful, mindful, and strip back to basics but it has thrown up an interesting curve ball to reflect on. I wonder if anyone else shares this feeling? I love my family and friends, but all together it can seem like I’m ticking each text/box off to keep everyone happy and really I just want to switch off for a week and process everything bit by bit. Even when I communicate that sentiment, it’s not easily understood by others who then get worried for you which isn’t helpful. Is it ok at a time like this to disconnect from everyone for a while?
I totally hear you, Emma! I resent all the texts/emails too & just wanna be alone for a bit. Sonya x
Texts and emails coming from everyone who wants to connect and wants to give updates I don’t need. Maybe thinking I am sitting here lonely and wanting to connect all day.
NOW I am SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARY – I am putting an autoreply up for emails and will find way to do same for texts so I can create space for what nourishes me – FLOW – UNINTERRUPTED TIME
to do what I choose to do / or need to do at that moment without interruption
. That is what I need to stay balanced as an HSP and Introvert.
April D says
Elaine, this is exactly what has been in my mind and I’m so pleased you put it into such a succinct representation of the HSP experience.
I’m trying hard everyday to represent and reflect calm and peace in a world of chaos and fear. I’m feeling joy and it’s surreal and at some points I reflect that perhaps I’m bordering on insensitive…. it’s such a dichotomy and conundrum.
I bring myself back to being kind and compassionate (I work in healthcare) and every day the restrictions are intensifying and the needs beginning to deepen. I have a daily gratitude and reflective practice. I am mindful and meditate and do yoga.
I want to be a support to my colleagues and not dismiss the pressure we feel every minute to be constructive and effective and diligent.
Do you have any suggestions for me on maintaining my joyful approach without seeming naive or flippant?
Much love, kindness and appreciation to all at this time. I know we are all in this together.
Barbara Allen says
HSPs, when we are in our strength, do see the bigger picture and our actions follow the wisdom of what we understand. Let’s not experience our sensitivity from the perspective of cultural limitation, brought about by our experience of being an HSP in a non-HSP world, and recognise that this is the time to become leaders, using our wisdom, acceptance and understanding of adversity, life and death, and ability to see to the core of issues, to support and point to the numinous. This is an opportunity, not a disaster, for HSPs. If you can let go of your anxiety, you might be able to show the way to a more meaningful future for all. Think about it. 🙂
Victor Gonzalez says
I wanted to thank all the HSPs out there. I am a sensitive guy who just discovered our trait last year. I spent years experiencing substance abuse issues, hospitalizations, medications and treatments for various mental health diagnosis’s. What lay beyond change was transformation. I went from getting fired from job after job to creating my own business. I thought i was going crazy, turns out i am gifted. HSP and emphatic i couldn’t ask for a better gift. We are the people that have the capacity to touch others hearts, especially in these times. There was times in my life where i did not think i was going to make it through the tough times, yet here we are. We are going to make it through this and our love for others determination and spirit is the beacon that will guide others through these challenging times. I love you!
Thankyou Victor for your inspiring writing about how things changed from being so hard when you understood yourself better
Linda Lee says
Elaine, thank you for posting during the Coronavirus crisis. Good news is, just because we are facing a pandemic doesn’t mean HSP’s are programmed to do nothing but wring their hands.
I also want to thank you for not perpetuating the negativity that is so prevalent in both the news media and government. As a semi-conservative in a liberal HSP sea, I often feel alone, expecting that any discussion here would devolve into President Trump’s perceived ineffectiveness alongside a woefully inadequate congressional relief bill.
But part of the reality is that things ARE being done, both publicly and privately. People tend to demonize corporations, but some are stepping into the ring to help the cause.
Anyhow, appreciate your outreach.
Thank you so very much for these calming words – they ARE contagious…….
If this viral-crisis does not proof we are all one, not only as a species, but as all living creatures. This is a global HSP-crisis. Oneness and interconnectiveness proofs our planet needs an holistic approach and not only a dualistic defence against an unseen enemy. Our non-HSP culture tries to solve the problems they created in the way they treated the animal kingdom.
It needs a holistic approach to heal and save our planet.
Phil from Australia says
Thanks Elaine, even one knows these things, we HSPs need to be told to do them.
Sara from Australia says
Thank you for this inclusive blog. Virtual hugs to everyone who identifies as a HSP.
As HSP we can use our deep thinking minds to bring us into wide picture thinking, understanding our reactions and giving ourselves compassion. We can bring ourselves back to calm and treat ourselves with the kindness that we would extend to others.
At this time, spread your sensitive understanding and deep empathy to all those who may need our love and kindness. We are an important part of the world big picture.
Thank you, Elaine, and to all the other wonderful HSP’s who share your studies and coping mechanisms. Reading your comments are therapy prescribed just for us. I only recently read about being HSP and felt a big weight lifted from my shoulders. I now walk taller and there’s a spring in my step. I am not alone anymore. Bless you all!
Perhaps we can see it as an exercise in tolerating risk and uncertanity?
Perhaps we can look upon this time as an exercise in tolerating risk and uncertanity? Life itself is infact a very risky thing. And full of uncertanity.
Kendall Rounds says
Thank you for this website, I just finished watching Sensitive the Untold Story. I don’t know if this is part of my sensitive nature, but in June 2018 I began feeling this impending doom. Then there was California on fire, a crisis with family members and more, but the feeling of impending doom continued after these had passed. I thought it was “my” impending doom, but maybe I was feeling this pandemic crisis? I feel other people’s fear, anger, sadness and I would rather be alone in nature. I seem to avoid dangers by sensing things in advance, but this pandemic 2 years in advance? Is that a trait of a HSP? Back in the 1960s my guru said to me, “It’s never a curse to be sensitive, it’s always a boon.”
Thankyou Elaine for your writing. I really relate to it – being told all my life that I’m over-sensitive, seeing that I’m more sensitive than others, therefore something must be wrong with me. Then the exhausting task of trying to be like ‘everyone else’.
I’ve only recently come across your work. In one way it feels like a big burden has been lifted, finding out in my 40’s that I’m not ‘wrong’ just different. But the flip side is it feels very alone.
Are your movies still on special this week? I didn’t have the opportunity to see them in March..
I am currently overwhelmed by all of the people (now 7 people in my home at all times) and distraction and NOISE! Husband working from home and he always has music going and whistling to every note. He has never understood my HSP and thinks I overreact when I say I need silence. Both biological children and stepchildren are now always home and always talking or playing loud games or music, all while I’m trying to work a job that is very demanding. I have never heard so much noise and had so much distraction in my entire life and I am breaking down quickly. I’m not nervous about the disease or going out of the house (even though I am immune-compromised) – my issue is so much distraction with no escape. Feeling of no hope. It doesn’t seem to help to know I’m HSP and this is just how I am. I just have no coping skills right now.
Hey, I just read read an article about how we hsps should go to a place at least once a month where we’re allowed to be sensitive. Even with all of the online support groups I’ve joined since my state mandated a shelter-in-place, I still don’t feel comfortable bearing my true self. How about we start our own place where we can be ourselves? Perhaps, a weekly or fortnightly Zoom group? I’d love that!
Thank you for this blog. I’ve been searching for answers or support at this time. I know I’m an HSP, I’m a mother and a nurse working on the frontline. Understandably the world is very topsy turvy at the moment but this has given me some clarity on my thoughts mentally and emotionally
I can’t imagine being at the front line with all the pain and fear and grief surrounding your every moment of every day. I’m a retired nurse and the general hustle and bustle of a busy nursing unit was best handled when I was younger. I read a first hand letter by a nurse the other day describing what it’s like for her and I could feel the pain so deeply in my heart. The grief of families not being able to say goodbye except on facetime. Even what it’s like to die not even being able to see the person’s face you have come to depend on – receive a smile. Connect with ones eyes thru a shield. I feel the pain so deeply. I hope when this is ending, you take time – and y’all are given time to regroup rather than try to go on “life as usual” after this experience. Y’all will need much processing time. I feel for you.
Thank you so much for having this post. I am feeling fairly crushed with the global grief I don’t seem to be able to get away from. I do have my own experience with a close loss (my mom) right now but what I feel feels bigger than that. I am feeling this has reached what I can only describe as troubling level for me. I’m shutting down and know that is due to overwhelm and exactly what you said here. My nervous system feels shot. I viscerally react to people without masks. I see guns and feel my system respond to just that vision.
I have discontinued Netflix which I have had for years as every show feels too violent and too fast. I am watching old, slow moving, non-violent repeat tv shows for which I already know the ending on HULU and I know people don’t get it. it’s what I can do right now. Thanks for the hints and tips you have spelled out here. Staying away from illness speak is hard when even the credit card statements start with “how to stay safe….” I appreciate your post. Thank you.
Martha Wood says
I hope you will not you are *definitely* not alone. I, too, am having a visceral reaction to people not wearing masks and to the news of the tragedy. I have tried several times to go on “news fasts” for a brief period of time and then return to limited reading or viewing, but always, always my heart and mind are overwhelmed at some point (as they were just last night) by stories of cruelty, violence, or deep sadness. So while I don’t like relinquishing control (or the false sense of control I get from watching the news) today I have made a resolution (again) to stop reading or watching any news. I will still get weather updates on my phone but that’s it. As an HSP and empath, I just cannot consume the news and take really good care of myself. I would be interested to hear if anyone has any tips for getting necessary updates without the slippery slope of too much news.
I too am frequently overwhelmed and start a downward spiral with watching and listening to news and views about global events. So I’ve started a news fast today and asking my husband for the essential facts. I’m up at 5:30 am every day to walk to a nearby lake and woods. I love it. Then I spend an hour of reading the Bible reading a Psalm aloud first and praying the words. The current crisis has illuminated the Word for me. Paul wrote Philippians from prison waiting for execution. How’s that for house arrest? For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. What a perspective! I practice piano, dusted off my guitar and want to get to my flute once again. I do language study every day on Duolingo. I find grocery shopping upsetting so I go as little as possible. I believe I’ve had the covid but have not been tested. I’m so thankful for more understanding of my HSP and the gifts that it holds in it’s hands. Thank you all for sharing.
I was extremely anxious at the beginning of the pandemic in early March here in Ohio. When I learned there was a shortage of PPE, I decided to start making fabric face masks to donate to front-line healthcare workers in a nearby hospital and nursing home. This was a creative HANDS-ON effort that gave my mind a place to go besides WORRY. In time I began to make masks for friends and also to sell them to raise money for a charitable organization. So far, I’ve made about 250 face masks, mostly handstitiching them. When I feel anxious, I pick up a needle and thread and in minutes I feel the anxiety lift. I suspect many many HSPs have learned to use handicrafts and the arts in this way. Far from being an escape, handwork has allowed me to stay connected to the needs of others while providing practical help.
After a long time , something interesting to read.
Well , we all have to play of part. We not only need to protect us but also to protect everything we reside in or with.