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Bah Humbug?

Updated: Jan 29

Why Christmas can be tricky for HSPs and tips for finding your Christmas cheer

Okay, so let me be upfront about something before we begin… I do not have the best relationship with Christmas. This is for so many reasons, but it is one I am working to heal. Whether Christmas is your ideal time of year and you love it, or whether it fills you with dread and leaves you feeling floored, let’s take some time to consider how this time of year may be experienced by us HSPs and some ways to honour your wonderful self this Festive season.

Christmas, while full of opportunities to recoup, celebrate and connect can also be full of challenges (maybe more or less this year depending on your perspective!). When looked at through the lens of high sensitivity, we can appreciate the potential pitfalls for HSPs.

Sensory Overload

This is a biggie for me. The whole festive season (perhaps less so this year) is generally too much of too many things all at once. From a purely physical perspective, there is a lot going on in our environment… From the lights and decorations, to the Christmas songs and sweet treats our super spidey senses are being stimulated at a higher level than normal… If you have school aged children at home, multiply all of this by at least 1 million!

Mental Overwhelm

If you want to see me overwhelmed, stick me in a room with Christmas songs on full blast while I try to write my Christmas to do list! There can be so many expectations at Christmas and being prone to a conscientious nature, us HSPs can easily take on too much in a vain attempt to make this year ‘perfect’. Not so perfect for us.

Emotional Intensity

I know that we love our nearest and dearest deeply - when us HSPs love we only really do deep! But if we are not careful, we can become drained by too much interaction and from feeling all those big emotions which we do so intensely. There is also the issue of perhaps seeing those family members, who we might not actually want to see, or who we find difficult. There might be an element of ‘putting on a show’ just to get through. This too can be super draining on our highly sensitive nervous systems. Another element for triggering big emotions can be around gifts. Being Highly Sensitive comes with the trait of thinking deeply and being super thoughtful, so we often put loads of thought into the gifts we buy. The flip side of this is feeling hurt when receiving a gift from a loved one that we might feel just hasn’t been thought about on the same level.

These three elements combined, can cause us to feel overwhelmed, exhausted & emotionally up and down.

The break in the normal routine, coupled with the above can also trigger us in ways we might not expect. We can be reminded of past events, or relationships that are difficult, we might also start to ponder and question certain elements of our lives. All of this can create the perfect recipe for overwhelm, so I now want to share some of the things I have started to introduce into my Christmas holidays.

1. Rein in Signs of Christmas (a little)

In your home at the very least, if you know sensory overwhelm is a big deal for you, then tame the lights, decs, etc. Go for a relaxed and peaceful Christmas vibe, without it being too much. Perhaps keep the Christmas paraphernalia to just one or two rooms.

2. Say No.

This is hard. Really hard. We just love to people please! But ask yourself if you really NEED to do X, Y and Z. Are there any ways you can limit what you get involved in this year? If there was any year to practice this, it would be THIS year!!

3. Delegate & Share

If you feel like there is too much to do, give a friend/partner/ family member a call and ask for some help. You DO NOT need to feel guilty for asking for some help! Think about a person who you know would be more than willing to help and see if you can off-load a job or two.

4. Set time limits.

This has been huge for me. I love seeing my special people, but I still get weary no matter who it is. I now do not have open invitations for those folk that I know have a habit of staying past the point that I can manage. Trust me on this one – Game Changer.

5. Alone Time EVERY DAY.

This is my absolute NON-NEGOTIABLE. I need time alone everyday to re-set. This is something I do throughout the year, but is even more important during the holidays. Depending on how I feel at the time, that alone time might be a walk in nature, some yoga, meditation, or even a good old nap! The important thing about this time is that it is time to discharge – not take more stuff in. So put the phone down, switch off the TV, even put that book away. This is not time to put more in. Believe me, it works.

These are just a few of the most effective things I have introduced over the last few years. It can take practice and sometimes it is not always comfortable when introducing something new, but I promise you’ll benefit and you are worth it dear reader! I know that to be true. Take back Christmas as a time that you can enjoy fully in the way YOU want to.

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Nichola Day
Nichola Day
Jan 14, 2021

This made me smile! I now explicitly show or tell my husband what I’d like. It makes it easier!


Anita North
Anita North
Dec 10, 2020

I definitely identify with the emotional intensity. I now buy my own presents from my kids and husband. Not as special as them making the big effort as I do with their presents, but at least I get something decent!

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