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Creating an Evening Routine

While following a morning routine is very important for the highly sensitive person, your evening routine is another essential component that will help you become more tranquil. Since the quality of your sleep is affected by your evening routine, it is important to do calming activities in the evening. Your evening activities should consist of calming endeavors such as reading uplifting books, writing, taking a bath, or engaging in light discussions. About thirty minutes before going to bed, let go of the day by going inward. This is another good time for meditating or listening to a relaxation tape. By doing progressive relaxation, you will be able to relapse any stress that has accumulated during the day. In order to experience stage three and four of deep sleep (the level at which the immune system is activated), it helps to practice meditation and relaxation exercises throughout the day and especially at night, or the stress hormones that were released during the day may continue to be released while you're sleeping (Jacobs 1998).

If you spend the evening watching stimulating television shows, reading murder mysteries, or engaging in intense discussions, it will be more difficult to experience a good night's rest. If there's an arousing television show that you really want to watch, you can always record the show and watch it earlier on another day. It's important to save important or heavy discussions for the morning.

Victor, an HSP father of a teenage son, said that he has learned that he must have quiet in the evening or he becomes too stimulated to fall asleep. Victor reported that his son, Chris, had borrowed his car one weekday night recently and that although the boy's curfew was 10 P.M. on weekdays, Chris didn't return home until after midnight. When the teenager finally returned, Victor's anger boiled over. He demanded the car keys and told Chris that he was going to discuss his future use of the car. Chris wisely responded that they should discuss the issue in the morning when they would both be calmer. However, Victor insisted on continuing a heated discussion, which increased his blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension, resulting in a sleepless night.

Paradoxically, when HSPs are in an out of balance state, they sometimes desire to be involved in activities that push them further off-center. Sometimes when you internalize the Type A lifestyle, you may actually enjoy watching overstimulating television shoes or getting into intense discussions late at night, regardless of what they do to your sleep schedule. However, as you begin meditating and living a more contemplative life, you will instinctively begin to desire more peaceful activities.

HSPs are deeply affected by watching or reading about violence in the media. Watching violent, arousing shows may actually contribute to suppressing your immune system. As you identify with the anger you see on the screen or read about, stress chemicals called catecholamine and cortisone are released that can adversely affect your immune system. The effect of exposure to both anger and love on the immune system was shown in research by Harvard scientist David Mclelland, and later reproduced by the Heart Math Institute in California (Bhat 1995). Watching an anger-provoking movie suppressed the immune system (as measured by chemicals in the saliva) for five to six hours in study subjects. However, watching a movie about the compassionate work of Mother Teresa caused elevation of the immune level in the participants.

Since your senses have been exposed to the stimulation throughout the day, it's important to try to spend some time in the evening in a quiet, dimly lit setting. When you really want to turn off the world in the evening, meditate or read with either earplugs or a headset in the quiet space. No matter how stressful the day has been, when you create a stimuli-free environment in the evening, you will be able to enter into a tranquil state.

The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide - Ted Zeff, PH.D. (pg 30-32)

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May 2012

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Sensitivity

How to thrive when the world overwhelms you