Survival Guide For Highly Sensitive, Anxious, Shy & Creative Individuals

David Silverman, LMFT

Just being aware that sensory and emotional overload are out there, and that Highly Sensitive Persons, (HSPs) shy, introverted, and creative individuals are particularly susceptible, to stress, and anxiety, and overwhelm, will help them cope and plan out  ways to protect themselves. The better they understand their temperament the better prepared they’ll be.

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Creative individuals include writers, actors, artists, and designers –the obvious creative careers.  However, even business people, teachers, and scientists all need to be creative, as well.  This group generally tends to spend long hours inside their heads, creating stories, art, design, or working with ideas.

Creatives tend to be very empathic, intuitive, and sensitive emotionally. Considering that they tend to be more attuned to other people, their behavior, and their emotions, it’s important to realize creative individuals have to be careful about absorbing negative emotions from others in Los Angeles or (especially) Hollywood.

Creatives, and HSPs  need to be prepared to check in with their emotions, especially if they find themselves outside their comfort zones, and pay attention to how they’re feeling. If all the networking, auditioning, marketing meetings, dealing with agents, or producers, are causing frustration, or anxiety, think about taking a break.

I recommend taking a walk, taking a drive, listening to music, go window shopping, find a park to relax in, anything to lift their spirits, and to ground themselves.

Everyone in the world experiences negative self-talk and self-critical thoughts, sometimes fairly often. A great way to deal with these thoughts is to acknowledge them, but don’t engage with them, or dwell on them.

Let them go. This is the basis of mindfulness, in general, and mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is about staying in the present, enjoying the moment.

Another common scenario with HSPs occurs when they’re creating or working. They may spend day after day working, and because they’re into their “flow,” they want to keep riding that wave. After a while, their energy levels will get sapped, they may start dwelling on how they feel so alone.

I recommend when HSPs and creatives feel isolated, to take breaks, call friends, go to lunch, or play poker. Everyone needs a human connection. Try to keep a sense of balance in their lives.

There are easily thousands of different types of meditation, so I’d just like to approach this subject in a general way. The goals of some of the “mindfulness” meditations involve, sitting quietly for a few minutes to maybe 20 minutes a day, with eyes closed, paying attention to breathing and “letting go” of thoughts.

I think the most valuable approach to meditation for HSPs and creatives is to open their mind to whatever floats through their consciousness. Don’t try to think of anything at all. Thoughts will arise.

Learn to acknowledge the negative thoughts, but then let go of them.  Don’t dwell or obsess.  Practice.  You’ll get better.

I try to remind creative and sensitive people to be kind and compassionate to themselves. They shouldn’t beat themselves up because they missed a meeting, got a rejection, or didn’t place in a competition. They must manage expectations, slow their pace, avoid overwhelming scenarios,  go easy on themselves, and challenge critical self-talk.

If sensitive and creative people start feeling isolated, or down, I recommend scheduling events they know they’ll enjoy. Go to concerts, go out to movies with friends, go to the gym, swim in the ocean, go surfing, read other scripts, read books, watch TV, have sex.

Put some of these fun activities on their calendar where they’ll see them. Always have something to look forward to.

Keep writing, stay inspired, and take care of yourself.  If you run into anxiety, frustrations, irritability, or blocks, consider seeing a therapist. 

Call David Silverman, LMFT. Stanford University educated Psychotherapist for a free phone consult, at 310-850-4707.

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