As a Vancouver counsellor, summer is a season I often discuss with my clients, particularly those who identify as Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). With its warmer weather, longer days, and the explosion of social activities, summer is often regarded as the season of joy and relaxation. However, for HSPs, the sudden surge in social events and sensory stimuli can feel like standing in the path of a roaring river, overwhelming and disconcerting.

HSPs possess a heightened ability to pick up subtleties in their environment, making them more receptive to the emotions and energies of the people around them. While this can be a beautiful trait, it can also mean that social events feel more intense. As an HSP counsellor, I understand the unique challenges HSPs face and want to provide some practical coping strategies.

Image by Mircea Ploscar from Pixabay
  1. Pre-event Self-Care Techniques: Before you head to a social event, it’s essential to ground yourself. Grounding can serve as your personal life jacket, helping you float comfortably even in the strongest currents of social stimulation. A simple grounding exercise involves sitting quietly and focusing on your breath. Feel the breath entering and exiting your body, anchoring you in the present moment. Remind yourself that you are safe, and it’s okay to interact at your own pace. In addition to grounding exercises, I ensure that my physical wellness is prioritized by staying well-hydrated and nourished. The sweltering heat of summer can often feel overwhelming for HSPs, so it becomes paramount to meet our fundamental needs. Proper hydration and nutrition act as the foundation upon which we build our resilience to handle the intensity of the season.
  2. Set Personal Boundaries: Imagine you’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Without a compass or map, you can easily get lost. Similarly, without clear boundaries, it’s easy to feel adrift in social situations. Be clear about your limits and communicate them openly. It’s okay to step away, take a break, or leave early if you feel overwhelmed. I’ve always found it beneficial to bring my own car to social events, providing the freedom to depart whenever I feel the need. Paying close attention to your body’s subtle cues is akin to using a compass; these sensations guide your way, keeping you on course. Overlooking these signs can plunge you into a sea of overwhelm. However, if you can interpret these signals early on, they can steer you towards the course of self-care. This could mean taking a timeout from the crowd to recenter yourself or deciding to bid farewell to the event altogether.
  3. Practice Mindful Socializing: Think of a social event as a buffet. You don’t need to sample every dish to feel satisfied. The same applies to socializing. You don’t need to interact with everyone or participate in every activity to have meaningful experiences. Mindful socializing involves focusing on one conversation, one activity, or one moment at a time. It allows you to fully enjoy each interaction without feeling overwhelmed.
  4. Self-care After Socializing: After sailing in the vast ocean of social interactions, it’s important to return to the safe harbor of self-care. Plan calming, restorative activities for after the event. This could be a warm bath, a quiet walk, or some time with a comforting book. These activities can help your system reset and restore balance, much like coming home after a long journey.
  5. Seek Support: You don’t have to navigate the social seas alone. As an HSP counsellor, I assure you, it’s okay to seek support. Having a friend or partner who comprehends your needs as a highly sensitive person can greatly transform your social experience. Just like a skilled team entering a game with a solid strategy, you can approach the social gathering with a plan. Develop discrete signals that indicate when you feel it’s time to exit a conversation or when you need a breather. Setting a mutually agreed-upon time limit for the event can also alleviate pressure. Having this kind of support in place can make navigating social situations less daunting and more manageable.

Summer social events can be navigated successfully, even for HSPs. Remember, it’s okay to approach social situations in a way that honors your needs and respects your boundaries. Just as a boat needs to adjust its sails to the wind, adjust your strategies to what feels right for you.

At Constellations Counselling, we understand the unique challenges HSPs face, particularly during high-stimulation periods like summer. With the right support and strategies, you can not just survive, but thrive in any social setting.

Remember, as a highly sensitive person, you have the strength and wisdom to navigate the currents of life in your own unique way. Your sensitivity is not a weakness, but a strength, enabling you to experience life’s many nuances in vibrant color and depth. You are not alone in this journey, and with every wave you ride, you become more resilient and empowered.

For more tailored guidance and support, don’t hesitate to reach out to your HSP counsellors in Vancouver at Constellations Counselling. Let’s navigate this journey together, and remember, even the busiest summers can hold moments of peace and personal growth for you.