Are you feeling stressed and looking for ways to calm your highly sensitive nervous system? In this article, we’ll share 30 powerful relaxation strategies with you.
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Estimated reading time: 199 minutes
Before I knew that I am an HSP, I would constantly be in a push-and-pull battle between feeling on top of the world and utmost exhaustion.
One week I’d seek out the most amazing experiences, meet up with friends and get a lot of things done. The other week, I’d feel burned out and lay in bed all week to recharge.
There was a constant battle within me and I didn’t know why I couldn’t maintain this steady pace of ‘living’ like the rest of the people around me.
When I came across the term highly sensitive person at the age of 22, I realized why I could not keep up with the rest. Also, I realized why I should not keep up with the rest. In fact, I constantly abused my own nervous system by engaging in this battle.
After 8 years of practice, I can finally say that I am at a place where I do otherwise. From my personal experience, the key to happiness is to know how to calm your highly sensitive nervous system. Moreover, it is crucial to know when to calm down.
In this article, I’ll explain the benefits of a balanced nervous system and share 30 powerful methods to relax as an HSP.
Here’s What You’ll Learn
- What Are The Benefits of a Balanced Nervous System?
- How To Calm Your Highly Sensitive Nervous System
- #1 EFT Tapping
- #2 Meditation
- #3 Forest Bathing
- #4 Laughing
- #5 Soothing Music
- #6 Hypnosis
- #7 Nutrition
- #8 Hugging
- #9 Get A Massage
- #10 Sound Bath
- #11 Acupuncture
- #12 Be Creative
- #13 Take A Nap
- #14 Breathing Exercises
- #15 Journaling
- #16 Positive Affirmation Statements
- #17 Mindfulness
- #18 Balanced Schedule
- #19 Creating A Calm Home
- #20 Use Essential Oils
- #21 Visualization
- #22 Dance
- #23 Practice Yoga
- #24 Do A Body Scan
- #25 Ask Yourself Logical Questions
- #26 Take A Bath
- #27 Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- #28 Use A Shakti Mat
- #29 Walk Barefoot In The Grass
- #30 Do A Brain Dump
- Some Final Remarks
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What Are The Benefits of a Balanced Nervous System?
15-20% of the world population are highly sensitive people. That means, that there are 1 in 5 people out there who should ensure to take proper care of their sensitive nervous system through relaxation.
Their sensory processing is heightened and needs to be respected by implementing the correct self-care strategies.
Doing so, offers you as an HSP many physical and mental health benefits, amongst which:
Sounds amazing, right? Therefore, do not hesitate and discover 30 strategies to calm down your highly sensitive nervous system.
How To Calm Your Highly Sensitive Nervous System
In order to discover how to calm down your highly sensitive nervous system, it is crucial to learn what is going on in your brain when you feel overwhelmed.
Highly sensitive people have heightened activity in their amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response. Consequently, situations that seem harmless to less sensitive people, may feel overwhelming to the highly sensitive person.
Sensory sensations such as loud noises, bright lights, and sudden changes in the environment can trigger your highly sensitive nervous system. Therefore, you need to give it a break regularly.
If you’re ready to learn how to calm down your highly sensitive nervous system, have a look at these 30 relaxation strategies:
#1 EFT Tapping
My go-to technique when feeling instant overstimulation and stress is EFT Tapping. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. This is a tapping practice where you tap specific acupressure points on your body to calm down your highly sensitive nervous system. It is an incredibly clever way to redirect the focus of your central nervous system and release helpful chemicals.
There are various EFT tapping practices out there created for specific situations. For instance, when you feel anxious, you may want to try this practice:
Meditation has in recent years become more and more popular. In the past, only highly spiritual people seemed to practice meditation, but in the past 2 decades, the health benefits of meditating have convinced less spiritual people to join in on the trend.
In the end, you do not have to be spiritual to do meditation, as it is simply a way of calming down your body and focusing inward, rather than always directing your attention outward.
For me, meditation has been a real game-changer! Practicing meditation on a regular basis positively impacted my overall well-being. Whenever I do not meditate for a couple of weeks, I immediately notice a decline in the state of my nervous system. If you haven’t tried meditation yet, you may want to start with a simple guided meditation like this one:
#3 Forest Bathing
Whenever life becomes too overwhelming, try to retreat to the forest and do some forest bathing. It sounds like some kind of spiritual ritual, but in fact, it is the simple act of spending time in the woods.
While walking through the beautiful tree landscape, envision how you soak up all the good vibes that are there and leave behind any stress and negativity in the woods. There, this negative energy can be ‘recycled’ so it can do no more harm.
If you’d like to read more about forest bathing, make sure to read this article written by our guest writer Nikki.
Recently, my friends surprised me with a bachelorette party. And part of the day program was to participate in a laughing workshop. I know, it sounds so silly, but it was incredible to be able to feel the effects of laughter.
We spent one hour doing various laughing exercises. As a result, our brains created tons of happy hormones like serotonin, giving us a wonderful boost of happiness.
The instructor of the workshop also shared that you can easily practice laughing at home. For instance, watch funny videos when you feel exhausted or ‘fake laugh’. Your brain does not know the difference between real and fake laughing and will still create the hormones that give you a happiness boost.
#5 Soothing Music
If you’re at home or wearing headphones, put on some soothing music to relax your nervous system. Relaxing music offers you multiple health benefits such as reducing stress and anxiety, releasing muscle tension, lowering blood pressure, and improving sleep.
There are musicians out there that create music for the sole purpose of relaxation. For instance, check out this artist on Spotify, who creates the best audio to calm your highly sensitive nervous system.
Do you feel ready to go into a deep state of relaxation? Then you may want to look into hypnosis. Besides helping you to relax, hypnosis can help you to stop indulging in behaviors that are bad for you.
For instance, hypnosis can help treat insomnia and sleepwalking, anxiety, and chronic pain and even help you to quit smoking or lose weight. It is an incredibly powerful tool to have in your relaxation toolkit.
Don’t worry, you do not have to leave the house to get hypnotized. In fact, you can do it straight from your bed with a recorded hypnosis like this one:
Proper nutrition is another powerful method to add to your self-care list. Adding anti-inflammation food types to your diet can help you significantly reduce anxiety and calm your highly sensitive nervous system.
For instance, consider adding more walnuts, salmon, strawberries, blueberries, and olive oil to your weekly grocery list. These foods contain large amounts of anti-inflammatory ingredients that help you tackle anxiety once and for all.
If you’d like to learn more about anti-inflammatory food, make sure to read this article about food that helps you to reduce anxiety.
Did you know that hugging is one of the best ways to give yourself an instant boost of happiness? Whether you hug your partner, your children, or your pets – hugging helps you to release a set of happiness and love hormones.
Moreover, hugging is a powerful method to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain and improves heart health and mood. If you want an instant boost of the happy hormone oxytocin, hug your partner for at least 6 seconds. Not only good for your state of mind and body, but also for your relationship. 😉
#9 Get A Massage
Another method that helps you to calm your highly sensitive nervous system, is to get a massage. Whether it is a massage from another person or a massage from a massage chair – the benefits are many. From releasing muscle tension, improving circulation, energy, and alertness, to lowering heart rate and blood pressure, the effect of massages on your body are countless.
If you notice that your nervous system is overstimulated, ask your partner or friend for a good back rub and notice how the stress fades away. And if you do not have a partner, consider getting a massage mat like this one. Life changer!
#10 Sound Bath
Have you ever enjoyed a sound bath? A sound bath is a meditative experience where you are ‘bathed’ in sound waves. These sounds are produced in various ways. For instance, this could be chanting, singing bowls, chimes, rattles, tuning forks, or gongs.
You do not have to leave your home to get a sound bath. In fact, there are talented artists on Spotify who share wonderful sound baths with their listeners. For example, have a look at this sound bath track.
If you’re highly sensitive and struggling with calming down your nervous system, I cannot stress enough how much I recommend acupuncture. For me, making an appointment with an acupuncturist was one of the best moves towards a more peaceful inner life.
Our highly sensitive system is so delicate and when you work with acupuncture, you will almost immediately notice how everything in your body is connected. Whenever I am struggling with grounding my energy on my own, I make an appointment with my acupuncturist. She helps me to clear any energetic blockages in my body and feel more peaceful.
In this video, some of the benefits of acupuncture are explained:
#12 Be Creative
If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out about tiny details, drop everything and get creative! I found this to be incredibly helpful to get my mind off of things that stress me out.
For instance, whenever I feel overwhelmed, I grab a puzzle or some art supplies and focus on a creative project. Oftentimes, many of us lose touch with our creative side once we grow up. However, being creative offers is not only relaxing but also super fun. Therefore, find a few creative hobbies that you can focus on whenever you notice that you start feeling overwhelmed.
#13 Take A Nap
In fact, I took a short nap right before writing this article. I noticed that my highly sensitive nervous system needed some calm and immediately dropped everything I was doing to lay down. Afterwards, I felt so recharged and ready to write!
Of course, I understand that this is not always possible. For instance, you may have children that do not nap easily, so you may not have the time to take a nap.
If you’re in a relationship, try asking your partner to watch the kids while you shortly recharge your energy. Of course, you can do the same for your partner when he or she feels the need to withdraw.
#14 Breathing Exercises
Another powerful technique that does wonders for my energy levels, is to practice breathing exercises. Obviously breathing is something we all do automatically, but we do have an influence on how we breathe.
Whenever you feel stressed, you’re most likely breathing quickly. If that is the case, try to calm your highly sensitive nervous system by doing this easy breathing exercise:
If your mind is filled with thoughts and you cannot seem to silence them, try journaling! It is a powerful method to silence your mind for a while and offer your nervous system some much-needed relaxation.
You may find it hard to know what to write about. If that is the case, you may want to try some journaling prompts. For instance, here are 5 questions you can use as journaling prompts to get started.
- What is going on in your mind right now? Which thoughts are you thinking?
- What does your anxiety look and feel like to you?
- Describe a moment in your life when you felt fulfilled and happy.
- What is something you need to let go of?
- What does your perfect day look like?
If you still need to purchase a journal, have a look at the shadow work journal filled with tons of helpful journaling prompts.
#16 Positive Affirmation Statements
There are moments when you may feel a sudden burst of anxiety and nervous feelings. If that is the case, positive affirmation statements may be what you need.
Affirmations are statements that are highly personal and can be customized to your needs. Whenever I feel the need to calm down my nervous system, I for instance use these affirmation statements:
- “I am in charge of my thoughts”.
- “I have the power to redirect my energy to a place a peace and calm”.
- “All is well.”
- “I am safe, healthy and loved.”
Repeating these statements helps me to calm down in situations where I feel overwhelmed. It also helps to breathe calmly while repeating these statements to yourself.
If you’re not sure which affirmation statements to use, I highly recommend using the app ‘Affirm it‘, as it helps you to discover affirmation statements that fit your specific needs.
Also, you may want to consider purchasing this fun affirmation card deck.
Another powerful method to calm down your highly sensitive nervous system is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of being present in the current moment, rather than focusing your attention on the past or the future. Mindfulness can be practiced all day long and is applicable to each situation you find yourself in throughout the day.
For instance, try eating your breakfast mindfully. Instead of watching tv or reading a book while eating breakfast, try to focus your full attention on what you’re eating. Focus on the texture of the food, the different flavors, and how they taste together. Doing so, helps you to calm down and feel more relaxed throughout your day.
Other moments where you can practice mindfulness, is while walking, sitting in the bus, listening to music or having a cup of coffee. It is a wonderful tool to be more present in the here and now.
A great read if you want to be more mindful, is Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now‘. It helps you to shift your mindset toward becoming more present and enjoying each moment.
#18 Balanced Schedule
When you find yourself in a constant state of overwhelm and have a hard time calming down your highly sensitive nervous system, it is time to create bigger changes in your life.
A good place to start doing that is to focus on developing a more balanced schedule for yourself. Part of that involves canceling appointments or social obligations that aren’t that meaningful or important.
For instance, if you’re introverted and find yourself over-scheduling yourself with social meet-ups with friends and family, it may be time to respect your own boundaries and schedule fewer of these moments in the future.
If you are working too many hours and struggle with finding time off for yourself, consider finding a job that pays better, so you can work fewer hours.
In the end, creating a balanced schedule is the key to a more peaceful and calm life as an HSP.
#19 Creating A Calm Home
Oftentimes, the state of your home reflects your inner state. During times when we feel overwhelmed and stressed, we may have less time to clean our homes or tidy up after ourselves.
Look around yourself and ask yourself the following question: “What does my home tell me about my inner state right now?”
If your home is clean and peaceful, that’s great and it shows that you created a peaceful place for yourself to wind down. If it, however, overwhelms you just looking around, it may be a warning sign that you are neglecting your own needs.
More stuff means more things to tidy up every day. Decluttering your home can help you to create more peace within. Therefore, try to create an action plan on how to create a calmer home.
Also, don’t be too hard on yourself and make this action plan manageable for yourself. In the end, you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself with tidying up your house. Doing one tiny task every day can help you to step by step create your safe haven, without the overwhelm.
#20 Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are wonderful tools to calm down your highly sensitive nervous system. You can add them to an aromatherapy diffuser or add them straight on your wrists (if the packaging says so!).
When using essential oils, please make sure which ones are safe for eventual pets, as you would not want to accidentally poison them. Here’s a list of essential oils that are safe for pets.
Whenever I notice that my nervous system is overloaded with input and needs some rest, I practice visualization. Visualization is a powerful tool to change your experience within a heartbeat. For instance, if I feel overwhelmed by the energy from somebody else, I envision a bubble of white light around me that protects my aura from any energies that are not good for me.
Oftentimes, I strengthen this visualization by repeating the affirmation statement “Only love can enter my aura” in my mind. Doing this visualization helps me to feel safe and grounded as an HSP and empath.
If you’d like to try a great visualization to ground your energy before starting your day, try this one:
Do you notice how dogs oftentimes ‘shake off’ tension after being in a stressful situation? It is their instinct to immediately get rid of that energy.
We, as humans, can learn from animals when it comes to that. Oftentimes, many of us don’t get rid of the stress we hold on to and this results in overwhelmed nervous systems.
Therefore, try to dance when you notice that you feel stressed. Put on a song that makes you feel happy and let go of tension by dancing to the beat.
Your body will create serotonin and dopamine as a result, which is a good way to calm down your highly sensitive nervous system.
#23 Practice Yoga
A powerful practice to regulate your highly sensitive nervous system is to practice yoga on a regular basis. It helps you to find balance and peace and is a wonderful way to wind down after a stressful day.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of different types of yoga, meaning that there is a yoga practice suitable for everyone out there. Best of all is that you can practice yoga from home. On youtube, there are tons of creators offering free yoga lessons. For instance, get started with this yoga class for beginners:
If you need that extra bit of motivation to keep up with your yoga practice, I highly recommend you to join a local yoga school for weekly classes. Best of all is that you’ll get to meet like-minded people there!
#24 Do A Body Scan
One of my favorite methods to calm down my highly sensitive nervous system is to do a quick body scan. Why do I love this method so much? Because it is possible to do it wherever I am! Whether I am on the bus, walking, at work, or relaxing on the couch – a body scan is always possible.
So what is a body scan? A body scan is a mindful moment where you focus your attention on your individual body parts. Oftentimes, you begin with your toes and then slowly walk your way up to your legs, upper body, arms, and head. While doing so, you focus all your attention on how each body part feels at the moment.
Also, you become aware of where the tension in your body is located. Doing a body scan can help you to release that tension and redirect your focus away from stress and anxiety.
#25 Ask Yourself Logical Questions
Whenever you find yourself in a highly overwhelmed and anxious state and you need to calm down your nervous system, I recommend asking yourself logical questions.
Oftentimes, our negative emotions begin with a series of ‘negative’ thoughts, meaning that you also have the power to redirect yourself to a state of peace and calm. Asking yourself logical questions can help you to get there faster.
For instance, when I worry about something somebody might think about me, I always ask myself ‘Is this true, or is this a story that my mind made up?’. Then, I follow up with ‘Did this person actually say that about me?’. 99% of the time my mind created those anxious thoughts without them necessarily being true.
Therefore, I recommend you always follow up on anxious thoughts with these questions to make sure that your mind didn’t trick you into anxiety.
#26 Take A Bath
If you’re one of the lucky ones to have a bath at home, make sure to take a bath when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It is a wonderful way to easily calm down your highly sensitive nervous system.
For instance, consider trying a bath ritual, where you put on relaxing music, fill your bathtub with relaxing scents and bath products and grab a good book. It is a lovely way to end the day and gift yourself some peace and calm.
Here are three of my favorite bath products:
#27 Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Have you ever heard of progressive muscle relaxation? This is a super powerful method to calm down your highly sensitive nervous system quickly.
Progressive muscle relaxation helps you to learn how to relax your muscles in a two-step process. In the first step, you put a lot of tension on different muscles in your body, like your neck and shoulders. Then, you release that tension and focus on how your muscles feel once you relax them.
This technique helps you to reduce tension in your body and your stress levels, resulting in a calmer nervous system. Perfect for the highly sensitive person and applicable in each situation.
#28 Use A Shakti Mat
If you haven’t heard of a Shakti mat yet, this will be a game changer for you. It is one of my favorite tools to immediately calm down my highly sensitive nervous system.
A Shakti mat is a mat with tiny spikes that put pressure on the acupoints in your body. It is a technique from India, that helps you to relax within a few minutes.
I must be honest – the first few times you’ll use the Shakti mat, you might feel a bit scared by the sensation you are experiencing in the first few minutes. After all, you have hundreds of spikes put on your skin.
But once your body has gotten past that first sensation of slight discomfort, you’ll feel a rush of relaxation throughout your entire body. Whenever I lay down on my Shakti mat, I feel so relaxed and grounded afterward.
I used it during the week Riny and I got married to release all the tension in the days prior to our wedding. Doing so helped me to truly enjoy our wedding day and feel at peace. I therefore highly recommend you to invest in a Shakti mat to feel more peaceful and calm as a highly sensitive person. Here is more information about the Shakti mat:
If you’re curious, discover the Shakti mat here!
#29 Walk Barefoot In The Grass
Do you remember the summer times as a kid, when you’d walk barefoot in the grass all day long and feel worry-free? It truly was an amazing time and makes me sometimes long back to those days.
Once we become adults, many of us never walk barefoot anymore, except for when we’re at the beach or swimming pool. However, walking barefoot in the grass has many scientific benefits.
For instance, walking barefoot helps you to reduce insomnia, control blood pressure, boost energy levels, reduce chronic pain and calm down your nervous system.
Therefore, try to walk barefoot whenever you can. For instance, walk barefoot when you’re outside in your garden or chilling in the part with friends. Your nervous system will thank you!
#30 Do A Brain Dump
Finally, one of the methods that I use to calm down my highly sensitive nervous system, is to do a ‘brain dump’. Oftentimes, my mind is overwhelmed with information when I feel the need to calm down.
Doing a brain dump can help me to sort the information and create peace in the chaos. Here’s how you do a brain dump:
- Grab a piece of paper and a pen.
- In the middle of your paper write ‘Going on in my mind right now’.
- Then, create a mindmap of everything that’s been going on in your mind throughout the day. Don’t hold back, write down everything.
- You’ll probably notice a lot of ‘bubbles’ with information on your paper. It will be very confronting to see why you’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately.
- Once you’ve finished ‘brain dumping’, try to decide which 3 items on your paper deserve the highest priority and which ones can be ‘parked’ for later. If it stressed you out to not know when you’ll deal with the parked thoughts, set a time and date for when you’ll deal with those issues.
- Only focus on your top 3 priorities for the moment and try to master those. Once you’ve created more space, focus on the other parked thoughts.
Oftentimes, a brain dump is the wake-up call that I need to slow down and not stress about the little things. Try it and see what it does for you.
Some Final Remarks
In a world where you are available to others 24/7 through the internet, it is important to not forget the most important thing in your life – yourself. Using these techniques to calm down can help you to thrive as a highly sensitive person. I hope that they’ll help you to find the peace and calm that you deserve in life.
Which technique would you like to try out first? Let me know in the comments!