Are you a highly sensitive person? Here's how to manage your energy.
If you are a highly sensitive person — such as an introvert or empath — it is critical that you manage your energy and unique traits. Here’s how.
Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) are individuals who have keen physical, mental and emotional responses to stimuli — be it internal or external. Because of this unusually high sensitivity the impact on their energy levels are significant.
Empath is a blanket term used for people who are on the extreme far end of sensitivity. Introverts too are often HSPs as they experience significant energy drains from certain types of stimuli. Though we highlight these two, you don’t necessarily have to be an introvert or empath to be a HSP.
As an HSP, you’ve probably been self-aware about how your energy levels ebb and flow since you were a child. You are likely reading this article because certain life circumstances are forcing you to become even more conscious of how you exert yourself.
That’s because certain situations in life require a significant amount of personal reserves. Daily ups and downs, positives and negatives, force you to expend quite a bit of effort.
HSPs are already prone to overwhelm even when dealing with normal situations in life, so it is critical that you exercise prudence and sustain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Here are five ways to manage your energy that we use with many of our coaching clients who are also HSPs. You can also download a printable workbook that accompanies this article.
highly sensitive person: Energy Evaluation
The first step is to be fully aware of the types of individuals, situations, activities, environments and even thoughts, that replenish or deplete your energy.
An easy way to do this is to jot down the major themes from your wheel of life. Under each theme make two lists: the first a plus (+) list and the second a minus (-) list.
In the plus list write down things that replenish energy and in the minus list write down things that deplete energy. Feel free to get as granular as you want as the more you know about what impacts your energy the better.
Resource library members can download an energy evaluation printable from the dashboard. Additionally, below are a few examples so you can see how it works.
(+) Small, light, plant-based fare 1-2 times per day keeps me mentally and physically alert.
(-) Large, rich and frequent meals are too much for my body to digest leaving me sluggish.
(+) I appreciate intellectual stimulating conversations with smart, worldly, positive people.
(-) I absorb the aura from negative people which makes me feel depressed in their presence and beyond.
(+) Clean, minimal aesthetically pleasing environments give me a sense of serenity.
(-) Cluttered, unclean, poorly decorated spaces distract and agitate me.
(+) Loose organization to the day helps align specific activities with my energy levels.
(-) Tightly planned schedules restrict my creative energy and zaps the pleasure from work.
highly sensitive person: Energy Management
Equipped with knowledge of what impacts your energy, in the second step you can implement a set of rules that help you effectively manage it.
You can make your rules as exhaustive and extensive as you’d like, but we recommend identifying a subset from your plus and minus list that have the greatest impact (both positive and negative).
Then, using those pluses and minuses, write short declarations that act as personal guidelines for what you are willing to accept in your life and what you aren’t. We simply refer to a short list of “I will and I won’t” statements such as:
I will keep my environment clean and orderly.
I will only eat 1-2 nourishing meals daily.
I will follow a creative routine.
I will selectively engage with likeminded people.
I will not entertain negative people.
I will not consume things that cause lethargy.
I will not spend time in chaotic or unclean spaces.
I will not start my day without a game plan.
highly sensitive person: Energy Routine
Now that you have a set of non-negotiable rules around what you will allow to impact your energy levels, you can think about incorporating them into your daily routine.
You don’t want energy management to deplete your energy as that would defeat the whole purpose! Instead, get to the point where you can effortlessly manage your energy without having to think twice.
The best way to do this is build good habits that protect your energy — and adhering to a routine is a great way to build good habits.
For example, for your daily routine we recommend a process we call modularization of the day. That means dividing your day into time buckets and grouping like activities into each bucket. This grouping — or modularizing — works wonders at helping you effectively manage your energy.
Sensitive people have a tendency to get frazzled if their day isn’t well-structured. That’s because certain activities — especially work-related — require a tremendous amount of focus and will throw you off if they are randomly strewn throughout the day with no order.
Instead, think about how your activities fit together and the amount of energy they require and group accordingly. Then establish and respect limits within your routine to avoid exhaustion.
Your daily routine shouldn't be restrictive or feel like a burden. It should be realistic and serve the sole purpose of helping you effectively manage your work and other life themes so you optimize your energy levels.
highly sensitive person: Energy Replenishment
Another way to be mindful of your energy is to incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Self-care is a broad term for activities that improve your overall health and wellness.
We define health as what you need to survive and wellness as what you need to thrive. Going a step further: surviving is living or existing, while thriving is developing and progressing in life.
It’s not enough just to focus on preventing energy drains, you also need activities that replenish your energy so you feel mentally and physically vigorous.
Self-care has become such an impertinent part of my life as a fellow HSP, that we helped write a book based on a research-backed integrative framework which includes:
understanding the factors that influence your well-being
personalizing a strategy based on your unique situation
This 11-step program focuses on helping you make small lifestyle changes that yield significant improvements in your ability to survive and thrive.
highly sensitive person: Energy Philosophy
A powerful method of managing how you expend energy is to leverage your life philosophy — the set of values and belief systems that help you navigate life.
For example, since energy is so intimately connected to emotions — in that your emotions are clear indicators of where you are energetically and your energy directly influences your energy — Stoicism could be a great way to stay balanced.
Use Stoicism to help make wise decisions about what's within your control and what’s not so you don't exert energy on what you can’t change.
Stoicism also enables you to foster a growth mindset which regulates your mood helping you maintain an even-keeled disposition even in the midst of ups and downs.
Another philosophy to consider is minimalism. To us, minimalism is less about clean design or how many items you own and more about the simplification of decision-making.
One challenge HSPs often face is using up their personal reserves on non-essential things. Minimalism helps you have awareness, clarity and focus so you become inept at expending your energy on what actually matters to you.
Take inspired action
As an HSP use this article as just a starting point to answering the important daily question: how can I manage my energy, my mood and my thoughts so they work for, not against, me?