5 Ways to Tackle a Busy Day and Enjoy It
As a highly sensitive person, we often cringe when faced with the possibility of a busy day. A day filled with too much “people-ing,” traveling, and information to process. Our nervous systems are more sensitive to the external environment than the average person. This means that any adventure means facing multiple layers of information which we must process. This can be, what bus or metro to get on, which route to take, where to sit on the transit, how much would we rather walk to avoid being too close to people on transit, and this is all before we even arrived where we are going! Many highly sensitives simply drive everywhere to avoid being around too many people and inevitably getting overwhelmed before they get to where they are going.
Because of this tendency to automatically fear a busy day, we often go to great lengths to avoid plans, trips and events. But being sensitive does not mean that we do not want to be a part of things or have new experiences. It simply means that we need to do things in a way that works for us and our sensitivities. So here are five things that help me prepare, enjoy and not get overwhelmed when an inevitable busy day arrives.
Any highly sensitive person who is relatively aware of their trait knows the importance of planning. This is not revolutionary. However, it is easy to forget and skip unless we make time to plan. Planning allows us to see the possibilities of what might happen during the day, the different course of events or challenges along the way. It is very different than expecting the worst thing to happen. It simply allows us to create a clear picture of what to expect to know what situations might irk our sensitivities. Our sensitivities are there not to drive us crazy, but to make us aware of potential “danger.” So being able to expect what we might encounter gives our nervous systems the chance to react much less to stimulus than if we did not know what was going on at all. This is why I always tell sensitives, that it is not about hiding to keep yourself calm and safe. You can be calm in overwhelming situations once your body and mind adjust to the stressors of that situation. Like seeing a movie. The movie theater is loud, the screen is huge and violent movies overwhelm us. But a fun comedy or more serious movie often has less noise and once you expect the sound level it’s a pretty enjoyable experience!
2. Pre-Relax session
This is a big one that I rarely see people do. If you know there is a busy day on the way, schedule in some time to relax BEFORE it happens. (Yes, I put that in caps for emphasis). I find this tip to be the most crucial. Sometimes the anticipation of the day creates anxiety before the day has even begun, giving you less room in your nervous system, to put it another way, instead of started at 0 anxiety (zero? HA!) you are starting from 20 or 30 out of 100. We want for you to be at the most relaxed as possible so you can fluctuate from 40-60 stress/anxiety level during the day instead of a 70-80 if you began the day at 20-30. Make sense? (Let me know if it doesn’t, I’d love to improve the clarity).
So anyway, schedule in some relax time before the day begins. Meditate in the morning or the night before, perform yoga or exercise, or engage in an art activity (I find this one to be the most clearing for those who do not already have a relaxation practice). The idea is to perform an activity that gets you out of your mind and in a state of no mind. So that your brain has a chance to be quiet and clear out any underlying feelings to start fresh for the day. Let me know what works for you!
3. Let go of control
Accept that there will be bumps in the road and changes to your plan. The art of planning allows our brain to relax. It does not mean we can control the entire outcome of the day. Expect there to be some hiccups and life at the wonder of life that it does not work like a machine with all expectations coming true. Yes, it can be stressful. Yes, it can be not fun. But it does make the journey interesting, you have a fun story to tell and an experience you did not have before. New experiences allow us to grow and learn new things. At the end of the year, wouldn’t you rather say I did some amazing things rather than, I wanted a lot of TV shows? (not a judgment promise, just a comment that doing too much of anything is not healthy.) Once you let go of trying to control the the entire structure of the day, you give yourself a little room to breathe. To allow for mess ups and laughter afterwards, not self hatred. Control gives us structure. A loose grip on control, gives us space to be free and enjoy all that is happening and is yet to come.
4. Be present
The biggest reason for overwhelm I find in highly sensitive people, is the act of living outside of the body. When you focus on the noise, the people, any external factors, it is easy to get lost in a swirl of too much stimulation. If you focus on your breath, how you feel in this very moment inside of your body, you will be able to center yourself. Pay attention to only your own heartbeat. This will still you. If you are still having trouble, pay attention to one spot, a painting, the face of the person you are with and let all others tune out. In this, you will see that yes there is a lot of noise and external stimulants, but you can be a still person inside if you make the effort. The more you do this, the easier it will be. I personally make time to do this a few times a day whether is a busy day or not. Remembering that you hold the key for stillness and peace inside of you is very freeing and comforting I feel.
5. Create mini-relaxation periods during the day
Do you know how I mentioned in the last bullet to make time for stillness? Well you can also refer to it as mini-relaxations. If you plan your busy day ahead of time, you can make time to feel relaxed during the day. Bring a book along with you or create a playlist of songs that make you smile. These simple actions give you the chance to release the stressors of all of the stimulation throughout the day. It can just be for a few minutes. Sometimes a short walk through a park is all that’s needed. Connecting to nature is a big way for many people to reconnect to themselves and the sense of stillness that everyone has around them. The key is to make time for this no matter what. Figure out how to add it into your day and make sure you do them. Holding yourself to a small sense of structure can ease much more anxiety than you expect.
At the end of the day, enjoy all of your hard work! Revel in your exhaustion, be proud of your bravery, your stamina and be thankful that you were able to have these experiences. I bet that some time ago, you would not have been able to. We are always growing and improving. Congratulate yourself for this!
Hope these tips have helped you get through some tough days. I’d love to hear your feedback! Have a wonderful day.