How Highly Sensitive People Can Thrive In The Physical World & Their Bodies
Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) often experience the world in a different way than people who are not Highly Sensitive. This can cause them to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or even drained of energy. But with the proper support, Highly Sensitive People can learn to thrive and find balance in their lives. In this blog post, I share how highly sensitive people can become highly actualized through fitness and physical exercise.
At the same time, HSPs who struggle with prioritizing fitness and their bodies might have negative experiences with trying out sports. I never did any sports and actively avoided going out, preferring to play video games in the safety of my home. When people told me how important it was for me to go out and start exercising, I just shut off. No. I don’t want to. The very thought of fitness made me uncomfortable. Perhaps your impulse is the same.
But one key component to finding balance as a highly sensitive person is physical fitness. Regular exercise can help Highly Sensitive People gain control over their body’s stress responses and better manage overwhelming emotions and sensations. Additionally, physical activity releases endorphins which can give Highly Sensitive People an emotional lift and a greater sense of well-being. So if there are ways for you to comfortably get exercise and fitness in your day-to-day life, you really need to consider it. Let’s ask ourselves these questions:
Are there forms of physical exercise and outdoor adventure that would revitalize you when you feel stressed or anxious?
Could small breaks every hour where you walk around the room and move a bit help you stay energized and focused?
Would being physically fit help you experience a more positive form of HSP, one that is less anxious, and more tuned in to positive sensory and physicalexperiences?
Reconnecting with your body and the physical world
Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are often overwhelmed by intense stimuli and exhausted after large amounts of activity. As a result, many HSPs might avoid physical exercise and fitness, as it can be too much for them to handle. Some HSPs report feeling stronger discomfort when their pulse is high, or feel uncomfortable in traditional sports and physically intense environments.
Because of things like that, many HSPs struggle with the negative impacts of low fitness. The worst one of all is anxiety. Anxiety can quickly get stuck in your body; if you don’t move, it can stay there longer. When anxious, your brain is telling your body to move, and with anxiety, it is better to move with and allow the emotion, than to fight the response. But there’s also more to it. When we move less, we have less energy. Stress becomes more debilitating too. You probably want to go out and move more, but you’re so anxious, so stressed with work, and other responsibilities, so there’s no time… Even though the movement would probably help you solve the very problems you were faced with. Moving more would help you relax so that you could handle problems at work better. Being fit would give you more energy, so you had more power to do your chores.
Research has shown that regular exercise can have a positive effect on reducing symptoms of anxiety. Studies have found that people who engage in regular physical activity have lower levels of anxiety and stress compared to those who are inactive. Exercise can also improve mood, increase self-esteem, and improve sleep quality, all of which can contribute to reducing feelings of anxiety. Additionally, physical activity can also boost endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Physical exercise for the Highly Sensitive Person
However, physical exercise is still possible for Highly Sensitive People. It’s important to find the right form of exercise that allows you to feel comfortable and relaxed while working out. Experiment with more gentle forms of exercise such as slow jogging, yoga, or some forms of martial arts.
These activities can help Highly Sensitive People stay fit without feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. Highly Sensitive People can also benefit from activities such as walking, swimming, and cycling since these are generally more low-impact forms of exercise that can help build strength and stamina in a way that is comfortable for you.
We often make physical exercise a tough project that requires us to steel our will. But ideally, it is a fun experience. Imagine if you could take a break from work every hour to dance a bit or go on a short walk. Imagine watching some youtube videos on Tai Chi and trying to experiment with different forms of martial arts. Imagine going hiking and seeing some beautiful sights in the mountains or in your nearest forest.
Remember, being highly sensitive does not mean that everything about physical life is overwhelming and uncomfortable, it only means that you are more tuned in to an experience, and need more time to process it. You still need to find healthy ways to tune in to and experience the physical world and connect with your body. Bodily and sensory discomfort is tough on you. Find ways to become comfortable with your body and your surroundings. That way, you can enjoy the positive experiences of being highly sensitive.
Make physical fitness a quest
If you aren’t exercising, your brain might immediately tune out or stop listening when somebody mentions the importance of fitness. You don’t wanna hear it – the very thought makes you uncomfortable. The Highly Sensitive Person has a brain that works differently from the average brain. Where most people are zoomed in – and only see what is right in front of them, the highly sensitive person is often bombarded with impressions and thoughts, which means that every experience is intensified.
The average person perhaps only has to think about themselves, their closest friends, or coworkers, and can focus on that. The highly sensitive person is overwhelmed by things on the news, uncomfortable sounds, and everyone at the office, their facial expressions, and their energy. When we are this zoomed out, we can easily become hypervigilant, and so, we fill up our cups more quickly. When our brain is filled with impressions, it cannot take in any more.
But I believe there is a way to fool the brain to zoom in more, filter more, and focusing more on what is right in front of it. Quests. By issuing yourself practical, concrete quests on a daily basis, small things you have to do to feel that you accomplished something, you force yourself to zoom in. First, I have to make my bed. Then I need to go on a thirty-minute walk. Later, I am going to do 15 minutes of dancing. For dinner, I’m going to cook myself a nice dish as a reward. By learning to tune in to these often more practical thoughts, your brain is distracted from the overwhelming mess of impressions around it.
When your brain has no quests, it zooms out and broadens its horizons. It worries about your next-door neighbor if your friend was upset when they sent that last text to you if your boss is unhappy with your performance… Sometimes, you have to ask yourself this: Are you anxious, or are you just bored? Quests bring back the fun into your life, one step at a time. And quests to become more physically fit will have a truly positive impact on your life. So try it!