Written by Amy Beecham
Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and overloaded all at the same time? Us too. Here are the five things in your life that might be draining your energy without you even realising.
If you identify as a highly sensitive person (HSP) in 2023, you’ll likely be familiar with a general feeling of overwhelm and emotional exhaustion. The term, coined by psychologist Dr Elaine Aron, describes the estimated 15-20% of people who experience the world more intensely and deeply than the average person.
According to Alissa Boyer, a life coach and HSP mentor, highly sensitive people are also more likely to experience “energy leaks”, aka everyday occurrences that leave us feeling weary and overloaded. “Drained? Irritated? Feeling like you’re never actually making progress? Check your energy leaks,” Boyer wrote in an Instagram post.
Because, more often than not, it’s the minutiae of life that slowly wears us down. As such, Boyer identifies five of the key areas where our energy can be drained without us even realising, starting with saying “yes” too often.
You’re saying ‘yes’ too often
It sounds obvious being too available is a quick way to drain anyone, but especially HSPs. Yes, it’s tempting to agree to every brunch plan, birthday party and family day, but it’s essential to make sure you have enough time to recoup between. The same goes for agreeing to emotional labour, too.
As Boyer urges: “Check your boundaries, my friend!” If you don’t have the capacity to be there for a friend, be honest and tell them so. A good friend will understand and respect your limits.
You’re always multitasking
As productive as it may feel, research actually suggests that multitasking takes a serious toll on output. Our brains lack the ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time, so in moments where we think we’re multitasking, we’re likely just switching quickly from task to task.
For HSPs, this can be particularly taxing on their already fraught nervous system. Instead, Boyer advises batching similar tasks together as often as you can. “You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done this way,” she says.
You’re procrastinating on annoying to-dos
Clearing out your wardrobe, filing paperwork and stocking up your cupboards are never anyone’s favourite chores, but having small tasks sit on your to-do list week after week takes up valuable mental space and unconsciously drains your energy. Actually, the best way to tackle it is by just doing the task. It might feel like a slog at first, but she promises you’ll feel much better for it.
You have a messy, cluttered space
“As an HSP, you’re taking in everything in your environment,” explains Boyer. So it’s important to set yourself up for success with a calming, mess-free area, no matter the size of your home. “Tidying up, changing a paint colour, or reorganising a space can do wonders for your energy,” she adds.
You’re too available and accessible
Once again, the key here is setting boundaries. “When we’re always accessible, we take ourselves out of the flow, give away our energy, and de-prioritise ourselves,” stresses Boyer. It can be hard, but checking yourself when you feel like you’re acting on your people pleasing tendencies or allowing others to trauma dump on you can be a vital first step in protecting yourself.
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