Hello everybody, welcome to episode 213 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is from an HSP listener.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
So glad to have all of you here today. On deck is a question that’s come in from a woman who finds herself drained by work – so drained that she needs to use all of her time off just to recover, even though she’s already adjusted her schedule to be working three days a week. There’s a caveat, however, and I don’t want to spoil it for you myself. Let’s hear her words directly and consider the best individual approach she can take to manage this situation and generate more energy for herself. Here’s what she’s got for us…
QUESTION: “I am an introverted HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) who works at a job outside the home. I have thankfully reduced my schedule at this time to only be working 3 days a week and my job is fun but I find my energy is still completely drained by the time I get home. I am a creative type, so I like to try and do creative art during the weekend but I often feel even those 3 days at my outside job suck a lot of energy and life out of me where I have to use the rest of the days to just recover and manage a household. How do I somehow preserve or save my energy so I can use it during the times I want to use it most: the days I'm off work? What are some good strategies to protect that bucket of energy that I only get so much of during the week?”
Really good question; the first question I believe we’ve received from someone who at least makes it known that they’re an HSP. Really quickly for those who are unfamiliar with the term, HSP stands for Highly Sensitive Person and it’s a topic that comes up a lot on the other show I host, Optimal Relationships Daily.
There’s a great blog called Highly Sensitive Refuge that talks about the many traits that HSPs share, and we’ll definitely cover some today. You can also click here to listen to Optimal Relationships Daily episodes featuring posts from Highly Sensitive Refuge.
The world is not often designed for HSPs as well as it is for the rest of us, and like anyone who is part of a minority in any given place, it can be difficult to accommodate for both the sake of ease and wanting to blend, all while still honoring who you are and your individuality. This struggle isn’t talked about as much with HSPs as it is with race for example, but it’s nonetheless quite draining to feel the need to be on guard, on your toes, or as if you need to work a little harder because you believe others around you have more in common with each other than they do with you.
HSPs and Inner Strength
But the beauty of having all different types of people in this world, on the inside and on the out, is that there’s such a wide variety of skills and advantages that can be shared. This is so true of HSPs, though unfortunately, many common HSP traits are seen as weaknesses. So let’s break that narrative, shall we? Let’s talk about the innate strengths of most HSPs – hopefully you’ll feel as though many of them apply to you – and how they can be leveraged in the workplace.
One you’ve already mentioned would be the creative inclination you have. That’s an awesome thing to realize, an awesome place to start, and again, a quality shared by many HSPs.
What can you do with this? You can look for opportunities to be creative around your office or in your work responsibilities specifically – seeking out unique solutions to problems that others may not be so quick to realize. Or maybe it means suggesting ways in which the office can be spruced up with some nice artwork. I’m not sure many people would be opposed to that, especially if it’s a low cost project that isn’t too time consuming.
But what other advantages do many HSPs tend to share that could make for a more fulfilling and energizing work life?
One thing would be the use of a routine. Are there routines you can put in place for yourself at work? Can you focus on certain assignments at the same time, take a break at the same time, schedule a 10 minute catch up with a favorite coworker or boss at the same time?
Consider all the aspects of your work, good and bad, and whether or not they can be more regimented and if regimenting them would feel pleasurable for you.
Another clear work advantage to many HSPs would be innate concentration skills. Use these skills to your advantage in two ways. First would be that if you can concentrate harder and get as ahead on your duties as possible, you’ll avoid harsh deadlines which can be stressful to HSPs. And two, use your concentration to take on tasks that require particular precision, accuracy and scrutiny. HSPs tend to thrive when it comes to that extremely detailed work, so let your boss know that that’s a natural skill of yours.
Searching for Meaning
Next, HSPs tend to be very diligent in their search for meaning and significance. The reason many people don’t like their job is because it isn’t immediately gratifying or enjoyable or high paying, not because they’ve really considered the ripple effects of their role and how they’re indeed helping people. So use this trait. Reflect on the true meaning behind your work and how it brings a lot of joy and ease to the world in ways that you can or can’t see in front of you. Think about how many lives you make easier by doing the work you do and how special that is.
Being Emotionally In Touch
And finally, this one may seem so obvious, but HSPs are very in touch with their emotions, and thus very in touch with other’s emotions. You may be introverted, but I’d recommend trying to be an emotional support system for coworkers in need. This doesn’t need to be some grandiose, theatrical act of heroism, but reminding stressed coworkers that they can come to you if they need someone to talk to, or going a little bit out of your way to perform a random act of kindness for someone you know is troubled could make you feel very fulfilled and as though you possess a unique, valuable role in the office that many offices overlook unfortunately.
So look, these are just a few of the ways HSPs can thrive in the office. Take some time to sit and think about how you offer much more to the world than people may realize, and how that can be put to use. Surely you’ll come up with more ideas than I have.
And even if you weren’t an HSP, the last recommendation I’d make is to just take stock of the parts of work that are draining you that aren’t necessary. Are you volunteering too much, maybe taking on work that isn’t yours? Are you arguing with coworkers about insignificant things?
Consider what’s truly necessary for your job, starting with the base duties that require completion for you to stay employed, and focus on them. Beyond them, pick your battles wisely when it comes to adding more to your plate.
Thanks a lot to our asker for sending this question in today. As always, we appreciate the trust and I think it was good for everyone today to talk a bit more about HSPs.
And if you do want to learn more, again, check out HighlySensitiveRefuge.com and definitely give Optimal Relationships Daily a listen. We narrate from Highly Sensitive Refuge a lot over there, and all the material is geared towards bettering relationships which certainly makes it a good pair with what we’ve got going here at OLA.
The main takeaway for everyone here today I think is really to always consider your unique skills and how you can bring them to life in unexpected places should you be having a hard time in those places. You don’t have to be an HSP to do this. It’s a great way of feeling more in touch with oneself and feeling energized in situations that might be getting the best of you, so take some time to reflect on what you might be able to offer, what passions or skills you’ve let lie dormant, and see where they take you.
Time to get going though, folks. Thanks a million for listening to the end, and be sure to come on back next time where we’ll get back on the horse and help out another listener. Have an awesome rest of your day, and I’ll talk to you soon