HIGHLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE AND PARENTING
- Mums Tips
- Parenting Skills
- Published on Thursday, 07 February 2019 11:05
- Last Updated on 05 February 2019
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WHAT IS HIGH SENSITIVITY?
One in five people or 1.4 billion globally are born with the trait of high sensitivity (sensory processing sensitivity). Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) experience their emotions more deeply and intensely than non-HSPs and they process them for longer. They have high levels of empathy, are deeply compassionate, very intuitive and can pick up on subtleties that others are not aware of. But they can also get affected by environmental and sensory stimuli that others don’t notice or are simply not bothered by. (For example, crowds, too much noise, bright lights and overpowering smells.) And if there is too much stimuli, their sensory nervous system can go into a state of overarousal and they can start to feel overwhelmed and frazzled.
THE PRO’S AND CON’S OF BEING A HIGHLY SENSITIVE PARENT
Being a highly sensitive parent is a great asset when it comes to raising a child. Their ability to sense and feel into their child’s needs at a deeper level is a beautiful gift. HSPs as already stated, can pick up on subtleties that others don’t, and they appear to be more sensitive to non-verbal communication and body language. This makes them wonderful parents especially with highly sensitive children. Their parent-child relationship can be intensely beautiful and forged with mutual understanding, awareness and deep connection.
But there is a downside to being a highly sensitive parent. The main one is the lack of space or alone time that is needed by HSPs. If they don’t get any, the environmental and sensory stimuli that can negatively affect them can cause overstimulation in their sensory nervous system. If HSPs don’t have the quiet time they need or time out in nature to withdraw and recharge, they can end up feeling overwhelmed and frazzled much more quickly. Therefore, it is important for HSPs to talk with their partner about their own needs when it comes to self-care and the trait to find that all important down time.
What if you are a highly sensitive single parent?
If you are an HSP and a single parent, try and get as much support as you can. Asking your own parents to have your child overnight once a week so that you can get some much-needed space and uninterrupted sleep, This will help to bring some balance and time for your sensory nervous system and brain to unwind and relax. If you aren’t able to ask family members, enlist the help of a supportive friend so that you take a nap or a walk in nature while they do a spot of childminding.
THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS IF YOU ARE A HIGHLY SENSITIVE PARENT.
Practicing meditation and/or mindfulness are highly effective ways to prevent or reduce overaurousal. Mindfulness helps HSPs to be present in the NOW because it can stop their overactive minds. And just twenty minutes of meditation daily can bring back a sense of balance, harmony and relaxation within. Even five minutes can make a difference!
Mel Collins is an Author, Speaker, Therapeutic Counsellor and Healer based in Devon. Her book ‘The Handbook for Highly Sensitive People’ was published in January 2019 by Watkins Publishing. Before this, she worked for the Prison Service, including eight years as a Prison Governor managing Substance Misuse Services. Being innately sensitive in a challenging prison setting has given her a unique learning experience to develop coping strategies for managing certain aspects of the HSP trait. She has also appeared on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, spoken on BBC Radio 5 Live about HSPs and been featured in the Daily Mail and various magazines.