The Power Of Rituals For An HSP

Kathryn NulfEmotional And Mental Health, Stress26 Comments


There was a good year where I listened to the same album every night as I drifted off to sleep.

I didn’t get tired of it. I loved knowing what to expect. I knew the order of the songs, the way things started and the way the music progressed.

I loved having something familiar there for me night after night before sleep. It was my way of being there for myself again and again.

The songs had meaning, sure. I felt their melodies more than the words though, deep to my core.

At the time, I did not know what highly sensitive person (HSP) was. I just knew that I went through life feeling things very intensely. I loved to know what to expect. I loved familiarity as I was in a strange place away at college.

And listening to the same album every night was my normal. It felt perfectly natural to me.

It was when I shared it with others that I got a “Huh?” kind of response. I don’t know why, but I thought they would be able to relate, as if they were doing it, too. It just felt so natural to me that I assumed it did for everyone else.

Why HSPs Need Rituals

For HSPs, having daily rituals in their lives can help them find balance feel at one with their world, instead of just being overwhelmed by it most of the time. Having that album play each night before sleep was my start to embracing rituals in my life.

Rituals can have a profound impact on us HPSs: they calm and ground us, soothe the spirit, slow us down, remind us to live in the present moment, nourish our soul, and remind us that we are responsible for our own well-being.

Think about what you love to do. What soothes your soul? What comforts you and brings you to life at the same time?

Rituals have a calming effect on our nervous system because it gives us something to look forward to that is at once both freeing and grounding. It brings us out of our heads (anyone else live there almost 24/7?) and back into our bodies. It gives us a break from the overthinking mind and lets us rest right here, right now.

Ways To Add Rituals To Your Life

Doing rituals on a regular basis (daily if possible) is ideal because it lets us know calm is on the calendar. If you haven’t realized yet, self care is of utmost important to HSPs.

So what is an example of a ritual? You don’t need to listen to the same music every night to be adding rituals into your life, promise! Spend some time thinking about what grounds you. Because HSPs can live in their heads so much of the time, ask yourself what brings you back to earth.

Some examples of rituals include:
– Drinking a hot cup of tea while reading a book
– Walking your dog through your favorite park
– Listening to music you love while taking a dance break (my personal favorite!)
– Tuning into yourself through meditation
– Stretching your body and breathing
– Writing in a journal
– Asking yourself what you are grateful for

Perhaps it’s even a combination of these examples, or something completely different. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what ritual might work for you, think about what grounds you and brings more balance into your life. Jot some ideas down and get a good list going that you can refer back to. Try something out for a few days or a week and see how you feel.

At first, it may seem like a lot to ask. It’s important to remember that HSPs tend to not like structure, unless it is of their own creation. Adding in a daily ritual is doing just that—taking power back into your own hands and creating balance in your life in the process, one ritual at a time.

Bringing in a daily ritual is a way for HSPs to work with their unique trait, not against it. We need more downtime than the average person, and setting time aside each day for a meaningful ritual is your time to reconnect with yourself.

What comes to mind when you think of a daily ritual? Do you already do something every day that you would consider a ritual? Leave a comment below and let’s share ideas and support each other.

Highly sensitive souls have a lively inner world + fire within, but that fire can be easily swayed by stress and overwhelm. When your inner light wavers and you aren’t living from a strong and grounded center, stress eating occurs. You hope that food will fuel our inner fire and stop the overwhelm, but does it?

As a certified health coach and registered yoga teacher, Kathryn Nulf supports HSPs in her private and group coaching programs to step out of overwhelm and finally feel free and at peace around food. Her passion is to help HSPs discover what it’s like to have an inner flame so strong that it’s not swayed by every stressful event in life. Kathryn helps her clients embrace their unique trait so that their whole self can embrace life. If you’d like to find out what working together might look like, set up a {free} discovery session at her website. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,.

26 Comments on “The Power Of Rituals For An HSP”

  1. Great article !!! It surprised me too that not EVERYONE needs rituals….
    My favorite line: ” It’s important to remember that HSPs tend to not like structure, unless it is of their own creation.”

    Thanks and Peace Always!!

  2. Pingback: The Power Of Rituals For An HSP - HSP Health Bl...

  3. What a relatable post! All of it was reLatable but what stood out the most for me was the appreciation of melodies in songs…sometimes I enjoy melodies MORE than actual lyrics and no one I’ve encountered seems to get this! Walking, journaling, prayer, yoga are all things that bring me into the space between my thoughts and I have to get back into those rituals.

    1. Hi Rebekah,

      I love melodies also. I will listen to a song for a particular point where the melody resonates with me. I do Transcendental Meditation which is great for getting to the space between thoughts – that is a wonderful phrase. I also like new age music because it combines melody and space.

      All the best,

    2. Rebekah, I’m the same way! It’s funny because I’m a writer but also a musician, and what usually stands out for me is the actual sound of the music and voice, and not so much what is being sung. It’s great to know what rituals work for us and it sounds like you have a good awareness of that for yourself. Thanks for stopping by.


  4. beautiful examples of secular rituals – but there are many religious rituals as well, which provide similar if not greater benefits – Daily Yoga, Chanting, Meditations, Affirmations, Etc…

    1. True, Aseem,

      Many of the religious rituals you mention have been secularized in the US. I cannot speak for the rest of the Western cultures. I think that anytime anyone embraces rituals in the West they are helping themselves since they are so removed from our daily lives. It is one of the reasons I think so many feel ungrounded.

      All the best,

    2. Thanks for sharing your insights here, Aseem. I love daily yoga and meditation, as well as affirmations. I do some chanting, usually in a group setting. For me personally, none of these have to do with religion. All are wonderful ways to take care of ourselves.

      Take good care,

  5. Kathryn this article is so true. For me the same music played over and over while I work/create in my office/sewing room keeps je in a peaceful state of mind.
    Ahy rituak is good for the soul though.

  6. Great article. There are certain song I can listen to and feel comforted by regardless of how often I listen to them.
    Is it possible for an HSP to set things up in a way that is too structured?

  7. I’ve got into the habit/ritual of reading blogs (e.g. this one!) with a singing bowl meditation playing. Thank you for another excellent piece. xx

    1. Wow, Mark!

      I hadn’t thought of that, but it is a great idea. Thanks for sharing – it may give others some similar ideas.

      All the best,

  8. A cup of (green) tea!! Generally sitting quietly, rather than with a book. It had absolutely never occurred to me my tea-drinking is a ritual. “Think about what you love to do. What soothes your soul? What comforts you and brings you to life at the same time?” Yes. And if an incident has particularly stressed or overwhelmed me, as happened just the other week, what do I look for – a cup of green tea! “..calm and ground us, soothe the spirit, slow us down, remind us to live in the present moment, nourish our soul, and remind us that we are responsible for our own well-being”. I will place even more present moment attention and gratitude on each cup of tea from now on…

  9. I love this. Its very frustrating trying toexplain this to friends and family. I have a particular friend who I have explained how important my weeknight rituals are to me multiple times and she continues to get upset with me when I turn down her invites to go over to her place for dinner and such. I feel bad to decline, lame even but then she will add insult to injury and lay a guilt trip. 🙁 my ritual of cooking and eating dinner at home after a stressful day at the office is something I look forward to all day. Its theraputic.

    1. Hi Heather,

      I appreciate how important it is to you and know that my rituals especially Transcendental Meditation are important to me. They are small acts of self caring that we need after giving so much. It is very uncaring for someone to demand that you deny yourself basic self care in their interest. Your self care is always more important than someone else’s entertainment.

      All the best,

  10. A very thoughtful and well-written piece.

    I have always had several soothing rituals all through, even when I was not aware of being an HSP . So I could relate to everything here.

    But, startling point was about ‘not liking structure, especially one that is not our own’ . I stopped there for quite a while , as it deeply resonated with me . I felt this part needs to be explored further, because that helps us keep away from most of the unusually structured activities and hence from others. Is it not ?

    May I request you to do that…?

    1. Hi Vivek,

      Structure is an important subject for HSPs, because most social/cultural structures are not well designed. I think the statement points to that discomfort for us. Yes it can keep us away from others, but hopefully it will be away from others who are not good for us. I think we really need structures that make life work. Most structures are hierarchical and designed in times of greater scarcity and for a world organized around war. So we are naturally uncomfortable. I don’t consider it a fault.

  11. Every morning I have oatmeal and my favorite mocha latte coffee. EVERY morning. I think I’d feel a little lost without them. They get my day off to a nice start.

    I have often wondered why I often feel overwhelmed outside of work, I rarely feel that way *at* work. I think the reason is that I know exactly what I have to do, how to do it, and what to do next, when I am at my job. Off work time can be a great pleasure, but it can also stress me with too many options, so that I end up unable to get started.

    1. Hi Fireblossom,

      I am a mocha lover myself. I like your breakfast!

      Having structures that help us organize ourselves is a great way to stay anchored and keep our feet on the ground. You are right that unlimited possibilities are just another way to add feelings of overwhelm.

      all the best,

  12. Thank you for posing the questions, Kathryn.

    I am challenged everyday with the lack of one specific ritual that originated from my family traditions. That is, eating a meal at the table, together as one.

    I’m the youngest of a large family. I recall how our family dining table became more spacious as the years passed. At 18, I found myself dining alone often. In fact, it was very difficult for me to eat any meals alone, so I’d skip them.

    To this day, I crave for meals to be placed at a table with all its settings. I never turn down a dinner invite.

    Also, I’m saddened when people rush off after they’ve taken their last bites, leaving me all alone at a big table. It’s not an insecurity. It’s a ritual that I seek to do each and every day when I’m with someone, anyone.

    1. Hi Caroline,

      I empathize. I grew up in a large family and we always took our meals together. I know what you mean about how it feels when people rush off without spending taking the time to fully enjoy the mealtime experience. I agree that it can be hard to eat alone and I find that I do not do myself justice when eating alone – something that I should change. I wish I had an answer for you. I wonder if there are dining meetups in your area. Meetups can be created for any reason and eating together is a good one.

      Happy holidays,

    2. Thank you for your insights, Caroline. It sounds like ritual is important to you, and I can definitely relate. I agree that it’s nice to be able to slow down at mealtimes and linger with those we’re sharing a meal with – it feels just as nourishing as the food itself. I agree with Maria to perhaps seek out dining meetups in your area. Sounds like a great idea, and could be a lot of fun. Best wishes to you, Caroline!


  13. Thank you for tweeting this article, I hadn’t seen it yet. It’s an excellent reminder for me. I used to have a regimen but after switching careers several years ago, I got away from it and haven’t re-established one. I’m reminded how important it is for us HSPs to make ourselves a priority, and this routine is part of it.

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