10 Self-Care Tips for Highly Sensitive People and Introverts

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 more relaxing and won’t increase anxiety. Read more

What Does It Mean to Be the “Best Version” of Yourself? and How Can We Use That to Live More Authentically?

I once really puzzled someone by talking about being the best version of your true self. They wondered how there could be different versions of you. Aren’t you “yourself” all the time? What else could you be?

In some ways, this young man had an excellent point. For example, if you do something that hurts a friend and then say, “That wasn’t really me,” because it’s something your ideal self wouldn’t do that doesn’t make your friend feel better. That might not be how your idea self would act but you actually did the hurtful thing in real life.

Other people interact with each of us based on the assumption that what they see is the real version of you. They might also see your potential and encourage you toward it, but for them who you are right now is the only version of yourself that exists.

But there are also different roles we play based on context. And many of us struggle with feeling like there’s a true self we hide from the world and then a different self that we show other people. We might also think about an ideal self we don’t measure up to yet. So even though who you are right now is “yourself,” you might also feel like your true/best self isn’t who you’re living as right now.

What is a “best version” of you?

The idea that there’s a “best version” of you assumes there are several different versions. There’s the version of you that your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures wanted you to be. There’s the version of you that fits in with the people you want to call friends. There’s the version of you that you don’t like very much when you look at yourself. There’s the version of you that makes you feel whole and authentic. I’m sure you could come up with others as well.

But are those really different versions of the real you? Or are you simply “you” and all those other “versions” are masks you wear or roles you choose to play?

This might just sound like nit-picking word choice, but there’s a difference between believing there are many versions of you and believing that you’re already your real self. If we go with the latter, being the best “version” of yourself isn’t about picking one of many versions that you want to be but rather about living authentically as the self you already are. Read more

How to “Be Yourself” as a Christian (and Figure out Who “Yourself” Really Is)

Today’s post is inspired by two comments I saw/heard last week. The first was a quote shared in a Christian group on Facebook. The quote is from Dale Partridge and it goes like this: “The motto ‘be yourself’ has become Satan’s counterfeit to God’s ‘be holy as I am holy’.”

Since the tagline for my blog is “Finding our true selves in the people God created us to be,” I don’t think it will surprise any of you that I have a different take on the advice to be yourself. Before we dive into that, though, I want to tell you about the other thing that prompted this post.

I listened to episode 45 of the Awaken With JP Sears Show, titled “Radical Self-Discovery with Jator Pierre.” In this episode, one of the key topics they discussed is the importance of being able to speak “your truth” and the dangers that PC culture poses to that idea. “Your truth” is part of who you are and what you have to offer the world. It’s neither healthy nor socially desirable to have people silence that.

While I loved the discussion, the idea of “your truth” is a bit problematic for Christians because it implies multiple versions of truth whereas God is very clear that He is the only source of truth. But when someone talks about the idea of having “your truth” as part of being an authentic weirdo is that really something followers of Jesus Christ should freak out about? Perhaps there is a way to be yourself and be an authentic Christian as well. Read more

Anxiety and the Endocannabinoid System

This article first appeared on MadebyHemp. One of their representatives sent me an email a couple weeks ago suggesting we could promote some of each other’s articles. I’d never heard of the topic for today’s article before, so I looked it up. There’s a system in our bodies that was discovered about 20 years ago which produces lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids that help the body maintain a balanced state. The endocannabinoid system’s primary purpose is to interact with compounds naturally produced by our body, and these compounds are similar to some certain compounds found in the cannabis plant. I haven’t tried CBD oil myself, but I do find the research on it very interesting, especially as it relates to anxiety.

 

Anxiety is a normal coping mechanism; however, in excess, it can be detrimental. More than just a situational response, anxiety disorders are characterized by a persistent and oftentimes irrational dread of everyday situations which can interfere with daily activities.

Forty million U.S. adults are affected by an anxiety-related disorder; however, the prevalence of these disorders should not diminish their impact.

Excessive anxiety is a central symptom of several neuropsychiatric disorders including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety is a complex disorder that can develop through various factors including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

Anxiety and Emotional Response

Anxiety is our body’s response to an emotional situation. Biologically, anxiety activates our “fight or flight” response to warn us of potential threats.

During such time, norepinephrine and cortisol flood our system to boost to perception, reflexes, and speed. These chemicals increase the heart rate, blood flow to the muscles, and air flow. With chronic anxiety, the response is never deactivated, and the physical and emotional effects of anxiety remain.

Anxiety and the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an integral role in regulating emotional response. Specifically, the ECS supports nerve activity that determines our response to emotional or aversive events.

An Introduction to the ECS

As discussed in a previous blog, the endocannabinoid system is a biological system responsible for maintaining homeostasis. The ECS is composed of endocannabinoids, degradative enzymes, and cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids such as anandamide (“the bliss molecule”) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2AG) are synthesized, or created, by our body on demand in response to an imbalance. They interact with the cannabinoid receptors to direct the body back to proper functioning.

CB1 Receptors and Anxiety

CB1 receptors, which are primarily located on nerve endings, are one of the two major cannabinoid receptors. Studies have found the activation of the CB1 receptor produces anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects.

When discussing conditioned fear, the effect of CB1 receptor activation is complex; however, CB1 receptor activation can reduce fear and prevent the activation of existing memories from the past. Additionally, CB1 receptor activation protects against the adverse effects of chronic stress, which can lead to anxiety. For this reason, CB1 receptor activation has been studied for anxiolytic drug development.

Endocannabinoids activate the CB1 receptor; therefore, a higher level of endocannabinoids can be beneficial for those with anxiety-related disorders. Additionally, chemicals that inhibit the FAAH enzyme from breaking down anandamide increase endocannabinoid availability and are also being studied for their anxiolytic effects.

Living with Anxiety

There are many ways to manage anxiety; however, less than 40% of those with an anxiety disorder seek treatment. Still today, there is a stigma surrounding mental illness that discourages those struggling from seeking help. We can help end the stigma of mental illness by having open conversations about mental health, encouraging mental health education, and showing compassion to those with a mental illness.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an anxiety disorder, we encourage you to learn more about the disorder and the options for treatment.

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10 Mental Health Habits to Try This 2019

This article first appeared on MadebyHemp. One of their representatives sent me an email last week suggesting we could promote some of each other’s articles. I haven’t tried CBD oil myself, but I did some research on it when writing for a client and it sounds like something that really could help a lot of people. I also thought this post had some very good content about habits that can help support our mental health. I hope you enjoy reading it!

 

2018 was the year we saw a strong surge of mental health awareness. The public’s focus on health broadened to also include taking care of one’s mental and emotional health. People have finally realized that one of the keys to maintaining a healthy body is to have a healthy mind.

This coming 2019, mental health awareness will continue to be one of the bigger focuses on overall well being. Learning a few habits that will promote and improve your mental health will be a great start to your new year.

1. Exercise

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The secret to a sound body is a sound mind. But it could also work both ways. The secret to a sound mind is a sound body. It might not work for everybody, but for a majority of able-bodied people, a great way to boost endorphins is to go out and move. Find an exercise that you love. You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. Some people prefer lifting weights, some like yoga, some even run marathons. Find that one exercise you want to stick with and run with it.

2. Gratefulness

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Being thankful for the things you have instead of focusing on the things you don’t is a good way of bringing positive energy into your life. It will, more importantly, make you realize you are lucky to have the things you do. Practicing the habit of being grateful will help you become a more positive person.

3. Be kind

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Be the person you wish other people would be to you. Make someone’s day by smiling at them, or helping them carry a heavy load, or even just opening the door for someone who has their hands full. A bit of kindness paid forward will cultivate a world of kindness. It doesn’t take much to make others smile.

4. Sleep

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Get enough sleep. Sleep can do wonders for a tired mind and body. Don’t overdo it though. Get the right amount of sleep in order to feel rested and ready to tackle your day, every day. Put your screen away close to bedtime and concentrate on relaxing. Give your body and mind the time to recover and recuperate.

5. Hang out with friends

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Socialize. Even the most introverted person has someone they prefer to hang around with. It does wonderful things to your soul to share your time with the people that matter.

6. Chocolate

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Better yet, try Therapeutic Chocolate with Cannabidiol (CBD) oil.  Cannabinoids are non-psychoactive and can reduce anxiety. If you are looking to incorporate CBD into your diet, but is not very much of a fan of its earthy taste, chocolate is the way to go. Cannabinoids are found to keep the body in neutral state, and support the functions of the brain, as well as the central and peripheral nervous system. Get your chocolate fix for the day, and get CBD’s benefits while you’re at it.

7.  Laugh

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When they said laughter is the best medicine, they were not kidding. Laughter helps ease stress and anxiety. Hang out with a funny friend, or watch a comedy show. Or maybe learn a few jokes and share them with your friends. Laughter is one of those things that multiply when shared.

8. Eat well

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A few desserts won’t hurt you any but for the most part, feed your body the things it should be fed. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. This will ensure your body will feel healthy and will give you less things to stress or worry about. Avoid things that will harm your body like smoking or excessive drinking.

9. Love yourself

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Tell yourself something nice every day. Most people are generous with giving away compliments to others but are stingy when it comes to themselves. Start your day by giving yourself a sincere compliment. It could be something simple like “oh my skin looks very nice today”. Or “I do make an amazing omelet.” And develop this into a daily habit. Because loving yourself will allow you to love others more freely.

10. Meditate

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Give your mind a chance to empty itself out of the negative energy that is pervasive in the world. Give your mind the space to breathe and relax. And as you relax your mind, you relax your body. Meditation is a great way to connect your mind and your body into one plane. It is a good way to relax and to relieve yourself of any stress that you may have. Meditation also complements therapy.

Working Through Cycles of Personal Growth

We often think of growth as happening one direction. Growing things expand and get older, they don’t shrink or get younger. If something is not moving forward, then it’s not growing.

But maybe that’s not always the case, especially when we’re talking about personal growth journeys. Growth like this doesn’t happen all at once or in a steady direction. Sometimes, a thing that you thought you dealt with will come back and needs to be worked through again. You often have to keep going back over the same ground in order to make progress.

This isn’t failure to grow. But it might look like it depending on our perspective. If we’re the type of person who wants to get everything right the first time, then it can be discouraging when we find ourselves having to deal with something we thought we’d already worked through. We might even decided that since we failed once there’s no point in trying again. But that isn’t really a healthy or helpful perspective.

New “Thought Paths” Take Time

Last year, I wrote a post about changing thought patterns related to anxiety. In that post, I talked about my counselor’s analogy of our minds as a big open field. As we live and grow, our thoughts travel over this field and we start to wear-down paths as we think along the same lines over and over. When we identify “thought paths” that aren’t doing us any good we need to create new pathways in our mind by learning to think in a different way. To do that, you have to keep going over the new paths again and again. Read more