I once heard a High Sensation-Seeking Highly Sensitive Person (HSS HSP) described as having one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. This really resonates with me and gets to the core of the conflict of the highly excitable or spirited. The term "excitability" means the heightened activation and response to stimuli and "spirited" is used to describe the quality of being more intense, persistent, sensitive and perceptive than average. These two traits often go hand in hand.
Your highly sensitive side craves peace and TLC. Your system overreacts to the smallest things. You genuinely need more peace, rest and down time than others, but...
...your spirited and excitable side is constantly active and craves action, whether external or internal. There is so much you want to do, there's no time for self-care. You are afraid to miss out on anything, so you keep pushing forward. Then...
...you crash! You pull through and carry on when you have to, but when you finally have a moment to breathe you have no energy left to enjoy it. The adrenaline that kept you going has now left you crashing and burning with adrenal fatigue.
So what's a girl to do?
First of all, know you are not alone. According to Elaine Aron, 15-20% of the population are HSPs and another subset of that are high sensation seekers. Excitability is seen as a sign of high developmental potential by Kazimierz Dabrowski. This is because if you are perceiving and reacting more to your environment, your are more likely to pick up insights others might not.
The challenge is to accept and embrace both sides fully and then find ways to keep them in balance.
Work smart. I've always loved the saying, "work smarter not harder." I've found that the most recurring issue for spirited women is the feeling of busyness without getting anything done. Taking the time to plan and organize so that you are conscious of your time goes a long way. It is also helpful to play to your strengths and understand that your perceived weaknesses might in fact be your greatest sources of power. To explore further how you can harness your power, you can check out my free Power Zone Toolkit: 7 Days to More Focus, Energy and Fun!
Play gladly. If you are highly sensitive, you might feel guilty when you take the time to play. You may feel that if it's not either productive or active self-care, it is not worth your time. If you are highly driven, you might try to maximize your play time so that play actually starts to feel like work. If you are exhausted all the time, you might be choosing leisure activities that are neither relaxing nor enriching. If you choose your activities consciously and with joy then it serves its own purpose. If, however, you zone out just to numb yourself, there might be better ways to spend your time. When you play gladly you are mindful of your choices and can fully savor the moment.
Rest easy. If you keep pushing yourself too hard in work and in play, when you finally have a chance to rest you are likely to crash. Working in schools I find this most notable in the first two weeks of summer when I am almost completely useless. While it may seem that you have no time or money for self-care, a little forethought in this area can go a long way. Also, while technology can add all kinds of business to our lives, it also puts so many tools of self-care at our fingertips. This week, I started doing YouTube yoga videos throughout my day, and it was so much easier to fit in 5-10 minutes here and there than it would be to fit in a whole 45-60 minute class. I also like to do hourly mindful "check ins" with myself and have used a variety of guided meditation apps.
If you honor both sides of yourself and live your life consciously then you can work smart, play gladly and rest easy!
Photos courtesy of Guy Holtzman Photography.
Crochet designs by Laurinda Reddig.