When was the last time you did something to care for yourself?
According to a definition used on PsychCentral, “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” Most of us practice at least a little bit of self-care every day with basic tasks like brushing our teeth and making sure we eat something. But self-care should go farther than just enough to keep us functioning.
Self-care isn’t a selfish thing. It’s about recognizing and meeting our own needs and taking the time to recharge so we can bring the best version of our authentic selves into every area of our lives.
While self-care is important for everyone, I want to focus today’s post on self-care tips for highly sensitive persons and introverts. Even though there are highly sensitive extroverts, it’s still true that HSPs and introverts have similar self-care needs. It’s easy for both to get overwhelmed by the demands of every-day life and we need time to slow down and take care of ourselves. I hope the 10 tips in today’s post will help you do just that.
1) Listen to yourself
It’s amazing how easy it is to ignore what your own body is trying to tell you. We often keep pushing ourselves, trying to get through things without caring how it’s affecting us. Something as simple as taking a few minutes to pause and assess yourself can do wonders for your mental and physical health. It’s always good to catch negative feelings or stress early and take the time and do some quick self-care right then. The sooner you deal with something, the less likely it is to come back and bug you later.
2) Drink tea
I used to hate tea, but a couple years ago I discovered I just didn’t like (most) teas from the tea plant. Herbal teas on the other hand are a wonderful thing. Whatever type of tea flavor you prefer, consider picking one without caffeine so it’s more relaxing and won’t increase anxiety.
3) Get moving
Physical movement does wonders for improving mood and decreasing anxiety, depression, and stress. Even just 5 or 10 minutes can make a difference (though 15 to 30 is even better). Go for a walk, take up running, practice yoga, or find some other exercise that you can stick with.
4) Take a breath
It’s amazing what breathing can do when you take the time to think about it. Most of us breath without noticing but if we focus on deep breathing it can suddenly turn into a simple self-care tool you can use anywhere, any time. Just settle into the present moment, take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. You can find tons of guided videos for mindful breathing on YouTube if you need help getting started.
5) Read a book
Sometimes we recharge best while doing something that engages our mind. Reading a book can do that, and if you’re reading on paper it also lets you get away from the screens that are so much a part of our lives. With so many books to choose from you’re sure to find something that can help you recharge, such as an immersive fictional story to distract you from everyday life. Or maybe you’d like to check out two of my favorite books and read about HSPs and introverts in Quiet by Susan Cain and The Highly Sensitive Person by Elain Aron (please note that these are affiliate links, which means I’ll received a small commission if you click and make a purchase).
6) Hug your friends
Physical touch is something most humans need, yet many of us don’t get very much at all. There are actually lots of health benefits to giving and receiving hugs. Snuggling with a trusted person definitely counts as self-care. And don’t forget your animal buddies! Even if you don’t have a person to hug, cuddling and spending time with a pet is also good for you. In fact, one survey found that 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership.
7) Reduce stimulation
For most of us, daily life involves a bombardment of bright lights, buzzing phones, moving traffic, crowded rooms, and a variety of other sights and sounds that demand our attention. That’s a perfect recipe for overloading a highly sensitive and/or introverted person. Take some time to unplug from the fast-paced world. Spend time in nature, take a warm bath, or sit in a quiet spot and meditate. And don’t forget to turn off any electronic devices that might interrupt you.
8) Do something creative
Sometime self-care for introverts and HSPs is less about reducing stimulation and more about engaging in something positive. Doing something creative can make you feel awake and alive by engaging parts of yourself that don’t always get a chance to shine in everyday life. You could write, sculpt, bake something tasty, or color in a coloring book — whatever gets your creative juices flowing.
9) Get better sleep
Improving your sleep patterns is one of the best things you can do for overall health. Tips for better sleep include developing a wind-down routine (a perfect time for some relaxing self-care), going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, blocking out light and noise, and keeping the room at a comfortably cool temperature. Also, don’t underestimate the value of a nap during the day when you’re mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
10) Practice good boundaries
Boundaries help keep us safe and are a huge part of self-care. You can’t take care of yourself until you can set boundaries with your time and relationships. We all need to be able to say “no” when we don’t have time for something. We also need to be able to say “no” to toxic people and situations. Be strong in who you are and don’t let people walk all over you. Learning how to set and maintain healthy boundaries isn’t easy but it’s definitely worthwhile. There are lots of resources out there that can help, and I highly recommend Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (this is an affiliate link).
What are your favorite self-care tips? Please share in the comments!
Featured image credit: Thought Catalog via Pixabay