This post originally appeared on the Your Wellness Transformed blog.
Last month, I was interviewed by Ciara Ripperger, mindfulness coach and editor of PURE by Ciara, on my take on life as an HSP. This month, in our continuing Highly Sensitive Series, I asked Ciara about her best tips for surviving the holidays as an HSP.
Debi: What about the holidays is challenging for HSP?
Ciara: Excess in general can be overstimulating. The busy crowds in malls and shopping centers, interacting with distant friends and family maybe you don't want to see (namely, the high school reunions around Thanksgiving or the quintessential older relative prying into your personal life at the dinner table, and especially this year, the jam-packed schedule of holiday events.) Managing work AND play during this time of year can be tricky for someone who needs a bit extra time to recharge and very little time for relaxation.
Debi: Can you share a specific situation where the holidays just put you on edge?
Ciara: I'd have to say that my years in college were challenging during the holiday season. It's been quite a few years, but balancing the end of a hectic semester with exams and papers, fitting in all the holiday parties (when the last exam hasn't been given yet), trying to find time to shop for gifts, or just enjoy the holiday lights, would leave me in an anxious state by the time Christmas Eve rolled around.
Debi: What has changed since then?
Ciara: Not much! School can be tricky. It’s not like a job where you can walk out of the office at 5pm. There’s a lot of studying to be done. Entrepreneur life is very similar to school, except the semester never ends! The only difference now is that I know to take breaks and recharge when I need to. Sleep is #1. Really, it always has been.
Debi: How do you communicate your HSP needs to family and friends?
Ciara: By now, most of the people in my life are understanding of my need to recharge and relax and also my need for non-hype and calm atmosphere. Admittedly, I’m much better at communicating this now than I was 5 years ago. It helps that living authentically and mindfully is at the heart of what I do! I'll still go to the big holiday events and take in the festivities, but I'll just plan to recharge before and after so I can enjoy it to the utmost. When you communicate with people what is important for you and what you need, most are genuinely understanding. Honestly, if you encounter people trying to push you excessively and unnecessarily into participating in some type of holiday hype - stay strong and reference your need for calm.
Debi: What is your best advice for HSPs during the holidays?
Ciara: My biggest learning curve to avoid the excess holiday stress, was figuring out self-care. BEFORE self-care was an Instagram-worthy topic. Heck, BEFORE Instagram existed in the state it does today... You have to figure out what works best for you personally and stick to it, even when the social commitments and work commitments pile up.
Here are Ciara's quick tips for HSP Holiday Survival:
Watch that Hallmark Channel movie - even if you can predict all the endings (a little predictability is kinda comforting these days). Is there something endearing about a stressed out, overworked professional gal finding her calm? To me, there is.
Limit your to-do list to 3 things per day. If you accomplish more, great! Personally, I focus on 1 big thing per day and 2 smaller tasks. It’s a very clear way to allocate your mental energy and your time to your plans.
Celebrate small wins. I remembered to stretch this morning. Yup, I’m talking the really tiny wins. These are what will propel you forward in prioritizing your self-care.
Don’t be “Yes Man” to everyone around you. Find a way to filter the hype. Set boundaries and enforce them vigilantly, don’t be caught doing so much that you run out of time for yourself.
Focus on something to be grateful for at the end of every day. I love to do this before falling asleep instead of worrying about everything that didn’t get done during the day or the things I have to do tomorrow. Avoid overwhelm.
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