How to Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Mom

I am super sensitive. And by that I don't mean my feelings are easily hurt.

I mean, my nervous system is easily overstimulated.

I am highly sensitive to internal stuff, like the slightest sleep deprivation, waiting 10 minutes too long to eat, monthly hormone shifts.

I am also highly sensitive to external stuff, like light, loud noise, clutter, hands in my face, textures.

When I first became a mom, I was very aware that I was sensitive, but I thought it was a problem to be ashamed of and work hard to get rid of.

Guess how that worked? It didn't. This deny-and-attack approach just added tension and shame, which increased my irritability and sense of overwhelm.

When I learned to accept myself for who I am - a person with limitations - and started being kind to myself and honoring my limits, everything shifted.

If you're struggling with feeling overwhelmed, please stop trying to push it down and work harder.

Please look at your overwhelm as your body being wise and loving and trying to get your attention.

Your mind and body are trying to tell you,

"Listen to me! Slow down. Be gentler with yourself. Create a life in which your needs are honored and respected.  Love yourself for who you are not who you think you're supposed to be."

If you want to THRIVE as a Highly Sensitive Mom, here's my advice:

  1. Pay attention to your internal line between being present and responsive and being flooded and overwhelmed. In order to live with intention and be proud of the life you're creating, you must help yourself stay on the healthy side of that line as often as possible.
  2. Accept your limitations, do not shame yourself for having them. Your limitations today may not be the same as they are tomorrow, so take it one day at a time. When you try to use shame to banish your limitations, you just increase your inner tension and cross over into overwhelm more easily. 
  3. Treat your limitations with respect and kindness. When you reach a limit, you become overwhelmed, that's the definition. That overwhelm needs soothing and a break from stimulation, not pressure and self-attack.
  4. Create a family life that honors your unique needs, as well as everyone else's. There is not a rule-book for what kind of mother you're supposed to be, other than a relatively present and loving one. How that manifests in your family is up to you.
  5. Decrease your stress and increase your coping skills. Once you've shifted your perspective to being more accepting and compassionate, you can look at where you would like to cope more effectively. Well-being always comes down to a ratio of stress to coping ability, and the goal is to have at least a little more coping ability than stress. You can switch your ratio by lowering stress and increasing your coping tools. 
  6. Find a buddy or a coach. It's one thing to give yourself compassion, but when someone you respect looks upon you with loving eyes and urges you to care for yourself, the benefits are exponential.

The wonderful paradox is, the more you accept that you are sensitive and get overwhelmed easily, the more resilient and strong you become. Pushing yourself and denying your body's wisdom are not working for you, even if your brain thinks that's what you need to do.

Try kindness. Try acceptance. Try forgiveness. And see the courageous power you discover.

I specialize in helping Highly Sensitive Moms thrive, and you can learn more about working together here.

With love and optimism,

Dr. J