Helen’s HSP Survival Guide – 18 Tips To Help You Cope!

Hello Lovelies,

I received a letter on SLOWLY last night from a lady who, like me, considers herself to have an empathic/highly sensitive nature. While she was in a bit of a slump, I realised that it’s not only her nor me that experience these lows. Unfortunately, all empaths and Highly Sensitive People are predisposed to extreme highs and lows that perhaps go with feeling more intensely than most people do.

In my relationship, it’s not only me that is an empath/HSP. My husband also has a highly sensitive nature and perhaps that’s what allows us to be able to have a beautiful, vibrant relationship full of adventures and new experiences. Unfortunately, with his ability to appreciate the finer things in life, he is also prone to anxiety, depression and feelings of overwhelm.

So with that in mind, here are 18 tips that have really helped me cope with being a HSP:

  1. Write

I was advised to keep a journal as part of my therapy, but you know what? Writing is just something I do now. My dearly beloved calls me “Jane Austen” because I write, and I write, and I write a bit more! I love writing! And as an empath, you might, too. Buy a diary to keep your thoughts in, or try an online encrypted journal like Penzu.

2. Listen to music

This is one of my favourites and I find it best works if you really ‘feel’ the song. My current favourites include “Big Spender” by Kiana Lede, which is really upbeat and talks about having enough money not to be impressed by a guy’s wealth) and Sia’s “Unstoppable”, which talks about having to put on a brave face and not be seen as weak.

3. Breathe

This was a piece of advice my mother always gave me, just take a deep breathe in, hold it, release slowly. and repeat It’s simple, but surprisingly powerful.

4. Get out in nature

The practice of Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) has been a huge game-changer for me, and even just 30 minutes of walking through the woods can really help, I know when the weather is bad because I don’t go for my walks, and when I don’t go for my walks, I feel more anxious and restless as a result.

5. Get plenty of rest

Rest, even if not sleep, is so important to empaths and HSPs. We get exhausted easily, and exhaustion means our patience and good mood decreases. I personally sleep about 6 hours at night, with a half hour nap in the afternoon (bi-phasic sleeper). Although I don’t get my full eight hours, I usually find that I don’t need it. Most people need 7-9 hours sleep, so find what works for you.

6. Laugh often

This is so important because I find laughter really helps to relieve the overwhelming feelings that come with life’s problems. Not only does laughter help resolve stress, but it’s also proven to help combat anxiety and depression and decrease blood pressure. So laugh, and laugh often.

7. Eat well

It’s easy to live on all that’s not good for us, but if you’re diet is a steady flow of pizza, friend chicken and soda, you won’t be feeling great. Sugar, fats, salts and additives can wreak havoc on your nervous system, so do be sure to have the bad stuff only in balance and in moderation. Skinless chicken, eggs, green steamed veggies, tomatoes and peppers are all great, tasty things to be eating, too.

8. Limit stimulants

Caffeine, nicotine and drugs are all stimulants for a reason, they stimulate you. Your nervous system is frazzled as it is, and still you frazzle it with even more stimulation? Take a break and your body will thank you.

9. Drink the right stuff

Water! Lots and lots of water! We all know how this works, but if not, water helps to flush the bad stuff out of your body which leads to a calmer you. My favourite ways include fruit cordials (“squash”, here in the UK) and herbal teas. Twinings SuperBlend Calm is my current favourite and it’s completely caffeine-free.

10. Talk & share

Poor Matt. Poor, poor Matt. Talking and sharing can be great for empaths and you can often gain valuable insights from speaking to other people. Unfortunately for Matt, he usually has to listen to me whittle on for hours. Regardless, a problem shared is a problem halved, so you should always make time to talk.

11. Keep warm/cool

I am extremely sensitive to temperature changes and too much heat will make me feel panicky, while too much cold will make me feel tired and depressed. If you’re like I am, make sure you wrap up warm in colder months and flake off in the summer heat. A nice cooling fan and water mist can really help cool down an overheated nervous system.

12. Make time to unwind

Whether it be in a hot bath or with a good book, make some time for you. My treat is always a nice long, hot shower. It’s sort of a meditative practice, I imagine letting all of my troubles just roll off of me and down the drain. Whatever works to help you unwind, do it. Frequently.

13. Try natural healing

Massage, aromatherapy, relaxation tapes.. For me, I love ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. If you’re hightly sensitive, you may experience “the tingles”, too. They’re a great thing to explore if you’re looking for ways to feel calm.

14. Cut out toxic people (and triggers)

I’ve written a post before about ghosting and toxic people, but if someone is only adding negativity to your life, wave them cheerio. If they don’t add to your life, why should you be adding to theirs? Your time is far too important to be wasting on people who aren’t worthy.

In a similar vein, a therapist once told me “if you don’t want to do it and don’t need to do it, don’t”. I don’t like horror movies or action movies, so I just.. don’t watch them. If something bothers you and you don’t need to do it, don’t do it!

15. Make time for your hobbies

What’s that one thing you like to do, but just don’t seem to get time for? Well, now you can make time for it. If everybody else is entitled to time to bake, sew and play computer games, so are you!

16. Learn to say no

As an empath, learning to say no can be extremely difficult and yet it so important to do. We can get so bogged down in the wants and needs of other people and then end up wondering why we have no time for ourselves. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means that you recognise your own limitations. There is nothing wrong with that!

17. Consider therapy

I make no bones about the fact that I have been through therapy, several times, in fact. If you need it, therapy is a great tool to have available. You won’t lie on a couch why a therapist ponders over your symptoms and they won’t ask “how does that make you feel?” to every thought or memory you have. Therapists aren’t trying to help you unearth childhood traumas that might be behind an annoying habit, they are there to help you look differently at the thoughts you have been having, and to look at ways of changing your relationship with them. If you suffer with anxiety or depression, I’d highly recommend therapy over medication, any day.

18. Above all else, learn to love yourself

Your empathic, highly sensitive nature is a gift and a burden. Being sensitive means you’re more likely to cry and soppy movies, but you’ll also find extensive beauty where others don’t see it, and that’s a great thing! Instead of kicking yourself and wondering why you’re so damn sensitive, remember, you have a gift to connect with others and and an ability to see beauty in all kinds of situations, and that’s a trait that not everyone possesses.

Stay well and keep smiling, folks.

Helen xx

Unstoppable



Unstoppable.

That was what started this post.

Sia’s Unstoppable.

Maybe it’s the Lacome perfume advert, with the white horse. I mean, just how much power is there in that advert? It absolutely stinks of it. But that song is really, really catchy, and if you love Sia as much as I do, then it sticks more than it stinks.

But, you see, reading the lyrics, I had a realisation, a revelation.

Oh my god, that song could have been written about me.

Pull up a chair, sweetie. Things are about to get real.

Sia’s Unstoppable contains talks about acting strong, it talks about acting tough and seeming invincible and powerful, which I do, but really? I’m a weak, insecure, vulnerable little girl on the inside.

True story.

When I was young, about 10 years old or so, my brother was an actor. It started off with him acting on tables at our weekend youth club, and then he sort of went BIG. Before too long, he was on the radio, he’d been on TV, he had an Equity card, he had a fan base and a following. My friends ditched me for him because he was cooler and more fun to be around, and me? I became nothing. I was inferior. Insignificant.

My brother was acting and earning pocket money, he was attending French cooking classes and my parents would lament over the delicious dishes he learned to prepare. My brother could sing and impress the family and I, meanwhile, was the shy, quiet child. I had nothing to offer, nothing to stand out and say “hey! Look what I can do, too!”

I blended into the background. I even became “Malcolm’s sister” at school and in the street. That’s right, dehumanized to someone else’s name.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my baby brother dearly, but he is he and I had my own thoughts, desires, and feelings, I just felt like they weren’t as important as his. Instead of shining, I just learned to shut up and fade out.

My GCSE’s were the icing on this cake of envy and self-loathing. Because of my RSD, I got moved to a hopsital education unit where I only got 4 grade C’s and a B, despite being set for top marks at secondary school. Because he stayed at mainstream education, my brother walked out with A* grades, and that only added to my sense of insignificance and inferiority. Not only was he cooler and better than me, now he was smarter, too.

In many ways, this competition was exceptionally unhealthy. We had an “anything you can do, I can do better” relationship, and I knew he was better than me.

He got invited to sing at Christmas dinner, and I’d get asked to get off of the cat’s tail if I tried to sing. He’d get to play his didgeridoo, but I wasn’t allowed to get my hands on my very own drum set. Feeling like my brother was always going to do better than me or be better than me, I learned to be quiet and let him stand out.

For a long time, I was a very meek, depressed and quiet person. I didn’t have anything to offer the world, I didn’t have anything that I believed that I could do well. I was just.. well.. me. Small, weak, and inferior.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel noticed until my now betrothed came along. I suppose he saw something in me, and because of him and because of therapy, I came to be.

Yes, I’ve had therapy, I’m not ashamed to admit it. In fact, I highly recommend it even if you don’t think you really need it.

Looking back, I know that my family believed in me, too, I just felt outshone. My brother’s light shined so brightly that mine was dim in comparison. In the end, I got so tired of trying to compete for attention that I simply gave in and I stopped trying to be noticed. Instead, I coursed my own journey and did my own thing.

I developed my own writing style, and found that many, many of my readers actually liked it.

I developed my own takes on dishes, and found that my family actually like them.

I developed my own dress style, and now people are convinced that I’m cool and confident.

I developed wit, which people came to find charismatic and likeable about me.

I learned to help people through writing. I learned that my thoughts, experiences and insights could make a difference to the world and actually help people discover happiness through the senses rather than medication. I stopped focusing inwards, and focused outwards instead. I stopped writing about me and my thoughts, and put my time and energy into writing things that would help people on a journey to self-discovery. I’m now a sex-positive blogger and I’m also planning to study to become a life coach, if I can find a way.

You see? I didn’t need to be good at the same things as my brother, I needed to be me.

Which is why a moment last month shocked me. Sat in the chalet on Cornwall on a cold, blustery October day, my brother looked me directly in the eye and said,

“You know, I’m kind of jealous of you. I always thought I’d be the one who’d be married first but you know, you’re making it.”

Jealous of me?!

The very person that I was jealous of, is jealous of me, because I have the one thing he doesn’t have – I have love.

It still cuts me to the core to this day, honestly. I feel kind of sad for him. Not because he is a sad person, but because he is so loveable, so likeable, so.. warm, and affectionate, and somebody who would do anything for anyone, but he was jealous of me. It’s quite eye-opening, really.

I’m known for being a bit of a show-off, a bit of a braggart. I’m known for having confidence in the things I do and the things that I achieve, and yet, all of this has come from lacking confidence in the one place that I should have had it to start with- in myself.

I think, sometimes, the world thinks that I think I am unstoppable. I’m not, and I don’t. I’m actually extremely sensitive and I’m wracked with anxiety on a near daily basis. I’m a serial ghoster because cutting people out is easier than it is to call them on their shit. I cut people out readily for being a bad friend because now that I’ve built myself up, I won’t have anyone pull me back down. Where I am now matters to me so much that I am also extremely sensitive to criticism. I’d rather have no friends than have friends who criticize me, because criticism means that I’m not enough.

Not good enough.

Not smart enough.

Not pretty enough.

It puts me at risk of going back there again, and I won’t let anyone do that to me. I can’t.

My confidence is fuelled by fear. and I need to maintain control to avoid being inferior again.

I’ve built myself up now, together with a handful of people who saw me and believed in me, but my sense of self is still so fragile. It’s so fragile that deep inside, I still seek your validation.

But then, I think we all do, if we’re being honest.

When we stop measuring ourselves by likes, follows, and online friends, only then will we see that numbers don’t matter. When we realise that the only person we really need to love us is ourselves, only then can we ever be truly happy with what we have, and who we really are.



I Am Enough. You Are Enough, Too



Not so long ago I found myself in a complete funk over something a friend said.

I’m sure, absolutely convinced in fact, that the friend meant no harm in what he said, but nonetheless, I was in a funk about it.

He told me that I needed to blog more often if I wanted to earn from my blog.

Ouch. 

As it was, I had written only two days before. Secondly,:-

  • 7th March, my Dad died
  • 3rd April was his funeral
  • In between those two dates I was tasked with a lot of preparation work for the funeral
  • On 24th April I contracted a spring cold from my husband and was bedbound for a week with dizziness, headaches and sinus pain

So forgive me if my output had been limited to maybe.. two posts.

At first, this comment made me feel like perhaps I shouldn’t be blogging. I felt like all of the people who told me that I have a captivating writing style were wrong. I felt like the very thing that I so enjoyed, I should just… stop. Give up, pack up and go back to working the vacuum. I felt like I had nothing interesting to say, nothing to add, nothing
worthwhile writing about. A bit of an overreaction? Maybe, but that was how I felt.

I got really down on myself that evening and my husband found me, sat on the bed and balling a tissue in my hand, pressing away the tears.

“You don’t believe you’re enough and you really should.”

That was my husband’s advice, to me, someone who writes about mental health!

I don’t think I’m enough, you don’t think you’re enough, we all don’t think we’re enough, and you know why? Because society tells us that we aren’t enough.

How many of these can you relate with?

  • Not smart enough
  • Not attractive enough
  • Not thin enough
  • Not funny enough
  • Don’t work hard enough
  • Not cool enough

And more..

Sometimes these comments are recent, or sometimes, like for me, they happen in childhood and take years of dedication and hard work to get rid of.

So let me tell you something, let me tell you something that the devil on your shoulder doesn’t want you to hear.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

YOU DO ENOUGH.

Please don’t change a thing about you!

If you want to lose weight or go back to school, do it for your own goals, do it for something or somewhere that you want to be, to further your career or be able to run in a marathon. Do not EVER do it because you don’t believe that you are enough.

Because somewhere out there, someone is doing exactly the same thing to themselves, wishing that they were more like you.



A Guide To Your Authentic Self



Until very recently, I followed a Youtuber (who shall forevermore remain anonymous) who taught me a lot about fighting with anxiety, and identity. I was inspired by this young lady, I was motivated by her courage, motivated to change, until one of her most recent updates – she was quitting.

Why? Because she felt that people were misusing her videos and, because of that, she was quitting. There was an uproar. A complete and utter backlash. But, you see, my problem wasn’t  that I felt cheated by what she had done, my problem was that whilst teaching us to be authentic, she hadn’t been authentic to herself. In a way, I felt sad for her.

Make no mistake, there were times I have been inauthentic, we are all capable of it and we all tell small white lies to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. The trouble is, the only person who really suffers because of your inauthenticity is yourself.

Take, for example, that sweater that Aunt Bev knitted you that which you really, really hate. You can still turn it away and be kind. Instead of saying “It’s great, I love it!” and feeling secretly resentful when you are expected to wear it at every Christmas party, you could express your gratitude instead, and still be honest about the reasons that it’s not for you.

“Wow, thankyou! You know, I’m a little unsure because green washes me out a bit, but thankyou! I really appreciate the gesture!”

You see? By expressing your gratitude for the gift, you are being authentic in your receiving the gift, and yet by explaining why you may never wear it, you are being honest (and thus, authentic) also. If your Aunt Bev then wants to accuse you of being an ungrateful pig who doesn’t appreciate her hard work, well, then that’s her cross to bear.

Sometimes, authenticity upsets people. Let me tell you, I know that I have relatives that would give their right arm to see me in a flowery pink summer dress, skipping down the garden path and giggling like the young lady that I’ve become. Well, I haven’t, and I won’t. Not only would doing so make me feel very uncomfortable, it also wouldn’t be authentic.

Not so long ago, I broke up for a time with my authentic self. Convinced that my choice to wear black really did mean I was depressed, I tried other colours. While I might have occasionally felt feminine and chic, there was something tugging in myself – I wasn’t being authentic, at all.

I am a black and denim girl. I live for rock band t-shirts and jeans and my hair, a natural brunette, is usually dyed with a hint of red. I match it all off with a silver-smokey eyeshadow and pale lips. I have a playful, rebellious, tomboy nature. That’s me, that’s who I am. That’s authentically me.

Before I started my blog, I had to ask myself a question. What did I want to do, and why was I doing it? The answer which came to me was simple, I was trying to help people, and I was doing this because I have been on my own adventure and I wanted to help people by writing about it.

When you are authentic to yourself, you walk different, you talk different, and you notice the people around you who aren’t authentic to themselves. Someone who is authentic does not care for fitting in, they just exist. They are them, and you can love them or you can hate them. They are not followers, they are ringleaders. An authentic person can make quick decisions based on their own wants and needs because they know their own wants and needs. If you don’t know what you want and need, how can anyone else help you?

Quite often, authentic people fall foul of those who want us to conform to their ways. The world is full of insecure people whose validation exists entirely on the agreeability of others. Other times, we meet those (usually the older generations) who have a wealth of wisdom to offer, and expect us to follow in their footsteps. It is important to show respect to those who may know better than us and to thank them for their input. However, it is up to us to decide what and how much (or how little) of their advice we heed.

Authenticity is not a destination, it is a choice. It is pursuing our own goals and interests, our own journey in life. It may not be for everyone and we may be criticised heavily for whatever we decide. Know that that is okay, you will meet others like you along the way. You reserve the right to engage with those who support you in your goals, and disengage from those who bring you down.

Authenticity can also be selfish, yet it need not be. Authenticity can be refusing to attend a church service because it doesn’t conform with your beliefs. It is not, however, being plainly rude or spiteful to those who still wish to attend.

So to you, if you have found your authentic self, I say well done and a huge congratulations. Be whoever you want to be and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To those of you who are still yet coursing your journey I have two questions to help you;

Who are you, and why do you exist?



Housewives Get Stressed And Lonely, Too

Dear Friends,

I wanted to write a short reminder for you all about the importance of recognising and supporting us housewives. All too often we are overlooked, and the consequences can have an effect on everyone.

In my family, mental health has a profound affect on us all in some way. My Dad struggled with hypochondria, my mother suffers with generalised anxiety and depression, my brother struggles with depression and even my husband struggles with anxiety and depression. I myself struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and so in one way or another, it is extremely important to me in many, many ways.

From about 12 years old, anxiety became a part of my everyday life. For 8 years, following a panic attack, I myself became a hypochondriac. After that, it became OCD and a fear of sharp knives. I was so afraid that I would stab someone that I threw all of my sharp knives away. On my wedding day, I cried because I was sure I’d kill the man I’d just married (he’s still very much alive!) and I thought I’d go on a killing spree with the cake knife. The power of the mind, hey?

For the past 5 years, I’ve struggled regular bouts of suicidal ideation. It always comes from a place of feeling out of control, as though I have more work to do than I have hours in the day and no time to look after myself. I look at myself in the mirror, 8 dress sizes bigger than I used to be, hair disshevelled and dry and acne and dark rings decorating my face, and I sigh. I used to be so slim, so pretty, whatever happened to me?

Trying to get myself back on track is a lot harder than it should be, no, it’s almost impossible. By the time I’ve walked the dog, washed the dishes, made my husband’s lunch for the next day, cleaned the kitchen, tidied the lounge and bedroom, run the laundry and given the toilet a quick scrub, the very last thing I want to do is to work out! Self care might stretch to brushing my hair and clipping my fingernails, if we’re lucky. Sadly, very few people understand how much I try to achieve, and that can leave me feeling like a worthless failure as a result.

Because of chronic pain that flares up and settles down almost as often as the weather, a lot of managers and employment agencies find me too ‘unstable’ to be employable. After a gruelling two years of trying, I gave up and resigned myself to the fate of a housewife.

For a long time, I’ve loved being a housewife. My husband goes off to work and I maintain the home, it has a cute, traditional vibe about it. Over time though, I found that the pressure mounts up and a woman really is expected to have it all in order, so I’d get stressed when-

  • I’d steam mopped the floor, and 10 minutes later it was covered in muddy pawprints and boot prints
  • I’d wash up, and by the evening most of the dishes were back on the side, dirty, to be cleaned again.
  • I’d walk the dog, and by 2pm he’d recovered and wanted to play as soon as I sat down
  • There are birthdays and Christmasses to prepare for, and guess who normally shoulders that responsibility? Moi!
  • I order the groceries online, and time spent making sure I remember 5 types on sandwich filler and what week we’re on (we have a rolling 2-week plan), I’ve lost at least two hours of my day

And more

Being a housewife is tiring and it’s thankless, and on top of that you’re supposed to be pretty and picture perfect, too. It’s no wonder women rebelled 60 years ago!

Being a housewife (or house-husband!) is also incredibly lonely. For some, their only companionship is a young, babbling child. For me, he’s a 4-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, who cares more about the gulls he can hear outside than he does about whether or not I’m feeling cold. When your partner is full of conversations with colleagues and you’re left grateful for a visit from the postman, it can leave you feeling rather left out. We are the silent workers, the homekeepers, the forgotten-abouts. We get the socks washed and paired up and the hot meals cooked, so you don’t have to.

Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people, it affects stay-at-home parents and disabled and unemployable people, too. If you know someone who is home alone for a lot of the time, please, please give them a knock and talk to them for a few moments. You never know what dark and isolating thoughts they maybe having.

Keep smiling, folks.

Hugs & kinky cuddles,

Helen xx