HSP Challenges

Coping with Fall and Winter as a Highly Sensitive Person

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At Intuitive Warrior, we provide coaching, community and courses to HSPs around the world so that they can find the profound gifts in what they thought were the worst parts of themselves.

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This past week, we finally got our first real snowfall in Colorado! It can be so peaceful to take in a snowy scene when sparkling snowflakes are falling. And at the same time, snowfall harkens to the coming weeks of cold, dark, and more time spent inside.

Some of us might cherish this time of year, looking forward to winter activities and chilly temps. But not everyone feels this way, and this can be especially true for highly sensitive people!

So, do you tend to feel more melancholy in the fall season? Or perhaps a little more down during the winter? 

HSPs are highly in tune with nature

HSPs are especially in tune with all things in their environment, and that includes the changing of seasons. Because of our sensitivity to change, fall and winter in particular can be tough to weather. The change from summer to fall represents death and dying, and as the days get shorter and the temperature drops as we get closer to winter, we are faced with the impermanence of all things.

HSPs, who are deep processors and deep feelers, are especially prone to feelings of grief, depression, or nostalgia during this shift into fall, and can be more affected by the moods of the winter months, as well.

Have you ever felt this way?

Personally, I like to think about the changing of seasons as a chance for reflection and introspection (something that HSPs are naturally good at!). If you think about it, we are all living through various cycles of change at all times. Nothing stays the same forever – there is a saying that “change is the only constant.

There are cycles all around us in nature. Think about the cycles of the moon, the cycle of the sun each day, the shifting of the tides, the migration of birds, or trees in a forest growing, eventually dying, and new trees growing in their place.

But even though change is natural, there can be something unsettling about confronting it, and many HSPs feel deep feelings when change happens. I choose to see this as a beautiful part of our nature – we appreciate things like the beautiful leaves on a tree or a summer’s day so deeply that when it’s time for change to happen, we feel the loss deeply as well.

To be gentle and kind to ourselves during this time of change, we might turn to cozy blankets, hot beverages, and other comforting stimuli. Simple comforts like this can help us feel safe and warm. I like to think of practices like this as honoring myself and the ending of the old season as it changes to something new.

Some of my favorite self-care activities for autumn and winter are:

  1. Making myself a warm mug of cocoa
  2. Enjoying an ambient fireplace or calming jazz music playlist on youtube
  3. Wearing a wearable blanket that I never want to take off
  4. Snuggling with my pets
  5. Wearing extra-comfortable clothing like sweaters and fuzzy socks
  6. Watching old, nostalgic movies in the evenings
  7. Spending time journaling my thoughts and feelings
  8. Spending time with loved ones (even over the phone or virtually) to feel connected

So, what are some ways that you honor or reflect on the changing of seasons? How might you incorporate some of these practices into a routine to take care of yourself as fall turns to winter? 

Boundaries During the Holidays

Winter and the holidays are also an important time to think about boundaries: the boundaries we need with ourselves and others so that we aren’t consumed by chaos, overwhelm, and expectations.

Boundaries have the power to make or break our lives. If your boundaries are generally healthy, you’ll be more likely to enjoy fulfilling relationships, work, and life. But if some of your boundaries are unhealed, then overwhelm, frustration, and exhaustion are almost inevitable.

Honestly, I can’t think of a better time to look at your boundaries than the holidays. This time of year tends to pull out everyone’s boundary struggles. To help you feel equipped, I wanted to give you 3 boundary reminders that have helped me on the regular:

You’re in charge of your boundaries

Yay! Isn’t it amazing that YOU get to decide what you are and aren’t okay with? While it’s easy to get frustrated when others are acting in a way that we don’t like, you don’t have to wait for them learn boundaries in order to take care of yourself (phew! that could be a looong wait with some people).

Here’s how to take the power back: next time you don’t like how someone’s acting or notice yourself feeling frustrated or resentful, ask yourself, what do I need right now? What would make me feel better?

For example, let’s say your uncle/neighbor/coworker asks you about something you’re uncomfortable discussing.  After ask yourself what you need, you realize “I need them to stop asking me these questions.” With that clarity, do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You could say “I’m not comfortable going into that” or “thanks for asking but I’d rather talk about something else” or simply remove yourself from the conversation.

Know your boundary trouble spots

There are at least 7 different types of boundaries: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, material, time, and energetic! Most of us are stronger with some types of boundaries than others (ie. you could have no problem setting physical boundaries but struggle with emotional ones).

As you head into a potentially triggering experience, be aware of the 1-2 types of boundaries you especially struggle with.

For example, if you know you struggle with time boundaries and you’re about to talk with someone who tends to suck you into lengthy conversations, decide ahead of time how long you want to talk to them.

Let’s say you’re up for a 20 minute conversation. Either let them know your limit at the outset (“I’m so glad we get to talk; I just want you to know I’ve got to take off in 20 minutes”) or simply hold yourself to that boundary (a little before 20 minutes, start wrapping up, change your body language, and excuse yourself).

Notice what your “feelers” are doing

I used to constantly scan my environment with invisible tentacles extending out of me, picking up on others’ moods and energies. I called this “putting out my feelers”.

While this was useful in an unpredictable home where I needed to be aware of my parent’s moods, it resulted in enmeshment and codependency as an adult. Not only was I crossing others’ energetic boundaries without meaning to, this behavior also kept me from focusing on my own needs, desires, and goals.

Next time you’re interacting with someone, consider how your “feelers” might look. Are they relaxed and protruding just a few inches out from your body, or are do you imagine they’re excitedly extending towards the person you’re talking to?

If they lean towards the latter, try imagining reeling those feelers in by 10% and notice how you feel. Simply raising your awareness about this is a game changer.

I hope these tips help you find some peace and empowerment.

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Hi, I'm Brooke.
Your HSP Friend + Cheerleader.

Most of us HSPs grew up feeling "too sensitive", "too much" and at the same time, not enough. My mission is to help challenge those perceptions so that you see the gifts in what you thought were the worst parts of yourself. 

Around here I bring my expertise as a trauma-informed therapist to give you tips and tools for throwing off low self-esteem and living a life grounded in your authentic self. 

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New Soulful Sensitivity Series

Boundaries and Nervous System Care for the Holidays - Begins 10/28