Anyone with the highly sensitive trait knows how challenging it can be to get through a work week without being overstimulated and having the fight/flight system triggered. Those working in healthcare and other frontline workers are especially vulnerable to overwhelm, as these jobs are generally high-engagement, fast-paced and highly stressful.
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all remedy, there are things Highly Sensitive workers can do to minimize environmental stimulation and emotional energy overload. Here are three quick routines you can try before, during and after your overwhelming workday.
BEFORE you go to work. (Estimated time is 3 minutes)
This quick 3-part routine gets your energy system grounded, flowing and strengthened. It’s recommended to do it first thing when you get out of bed to set the energetic tone of your day.
Grounding is an essential first step. Why? Without grounding, all the energy you’ve accumulated (from the environment and other people) has no where to go. It essentially keeps churning inside our system and can cause us to overload. Starting the day grounded can make all the difference!
The Grounding Breath exercise: Plant your feet flat on the floor approximately shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath in through your nose (if you know Ujjayi breathing from yoga, you can do that). As you inhale, imagine you are breathing through your feet instead of your lungs, so that as you inhale, you are pulling the energy up from the Earth into your feet, up your legs and into your body. As you exhale, imagine sending the energy down through the legs and out your feet, back into the Earth. Take one minute to try it now.
Energy flows through specific spots on the body called meridians — the same points used in acupuncture or acupressure therapy — that respond to being tapped with your fingers. Each of these acupoints on your body is situated on a different energy center or pathway and is responsible, in part, for the health and vitality of that organ or system.
By tapping on each particular point, you are stimulating the production of cells and/or the release of endorphins which promote health, strength and vitality and decrease pain and illness.
The 5 Thumps Exercise: Using the fingertips on one or both hands (depending on which spot you are working on), thump the points for approximately 20 seconds while breathing deeply.
CHEEK BONES: These acupoints are linked to the stomach meridian and influence your digestion, sinuses and eye sight.
K27: These are the end points of the kidney meridian. Stimulating them helps keep your energy running forward and can help give you a boost of energy. It also supports and helps keeps the kidneys balanced.
THYMUS: Thumping the Thymus stimulates the gland which helps to develop T-cells. T-cells are an important type of white blood cell responsible for helping your immune system and defending your body against viruses and bacteria.
SPLEEN MERIDIAN: Thumping your spleen meridian helps keep your immune system and metabolism running effectively. And when we say "metabolism", we mean EVERYTHING from food, drink and emotions!
GALL BLADDER MERIDIAN: You will find these points on the outside of your thighs just where your fingertips rest if you put your arms down at your sides. The gall bladder is responsible for digesting and metabolizing fats and oils. The emotion this meridian represents is outward anger or outward frustration. Tapping these points can help move the anger or frustration through your system.
Try it now!
Strengthening your energy system is the final step in this pre-work routine. While it’s powerful to do before engaging with other people, you can also do this if you’re feeling overwhelmed while being in a crowd.
The Zip-Up Exercise: The purpose of the Zip-Up is to carry energy up the Central meridian (also called the Conception Vessel meridian) which runs vertically up the front of your body starting six to eight inches below your belly button traveling up to your lower lip. Think of it like zipping up a coat. Because the path of this energy runs UP, it is not recommended that you "UN-ZIP your coat", (don't run the energy in the other direction).
The Zip-Up can help you feel less vulnerable to people and your environment and less affected by others’ energies. It strengthens your central meridian and boosts confidence, helping you feel centered and grounded.
During work. (Estimated time is 1 minute)
Whenever you find yourself in a stressful situation, your highly sensitive system puts its guard up causing you to feel 'on edge'. The adrenaline surge you feel kicking in is called the Triple Warmer system and it’s telling your body it needs to fight, or it wants to run or it’s going to freeze. Everybody’s reaction is different and every person can react in all three ways — meaning that we aren’t all “fighters” or “runners” all of the time.
These two exercises are easy to learn, fairly simple to do (no matter where you are) and can be done routinely to keep your system in balance or when you feel overwhelmed.
Triple Warmer Spleen Hug – this involves the Triple Warmer meridian and the Spleen meridian. When Triple Warmer is activated and needs more energy, it borrows energy from the Spleen meridian first. This exercise calms and balances this energy relationship (both are key for your immune system). You can do it as often as you like.
Place one hand on the opposite arm just above the elbow , below your tricep Place the other hand on the opposite rib cage (near the breast/armpit) Take a few breaths while holding that position You can do either your right or left side (because meridians run on both sides of the body). This is great to do if you're in public because it looks like you are just crossing your arms. This not only balances your energy, but your emotional system, as well.
Tapping TW Fear Point (on Triple Warmer meridian) - this technique calms Triple Warmer much like the Smoothie does. Rest your hand on your desk or lap (right or left hand is fine) or on your heart Take the four fingers of your opposite hand and tap on the space or channel that runs between your third and fourth fingers (your ring and pinkie fingers) Continue tapping for several deep breaths.
After work. (Estimated time is 1 minute)
There are many healthy, holistic ways to wind down after work — yoga, walking in nature, taking a bath, or meditating to name a few. This energy exercise would be ideal to do as a precursor to any of those.
The Crown Pull exercise helps energy move through your head. It moves the skull plates, stimulates blood flow to your skull and brain, and clears the crown chakra (energy center). Oftentimes, your brain is processing so much that the energy can become sluggish or blocked. By stimulating the head, you can release some of that blockage, which calms your nervous system and clears your mind. This exercise is great to do if you are experiencing mental congestion or anxiousness (can’t shut brain off; repetitive thoughts), momentary forgetfulness, headache, or tension around face, neck and head muscles.
- Put your thumbs on your temples with your fingertips resting at the middle of your forehead.
- Applying pressure, slowly pull your fingers towards your temples, stretching the skin across your forehead.
- As you do this, breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Repeat this movement, this time starting with your fingertips at your hairline. Breathe in and out as before.
- Repeat again at the top, center, then back of your head, continuing until you reach the base of your neck.
- Move down to your shoulders and push your fingers in and hold. Then pull across your shoulders towards the front. Hold your hands there until it feels right, then release and drop your hands/arms.
Want to find more effective tools for Highly Sensitive People? Check out our Energy Skills for HSPs digital workbook.
And for information on our Corporate Integrative Health Coach (CIHC) training program...