Trying to Process It All!

Trying to Process It All!

Being a Highly Sensitive Person or HSP means that I process information and stimuli just a little bit more intensely than most people. Actually, a lot more intensely.

Most people (approximately 80% of the population) do not experience the same level of overstimulation that causes distress to HSPs when they process information.

But 15-20% of humans (myself included) process stimuli in a highly organized, big-picture way, which includes awareness of nuances and subtleties that others might not notice.

 Therefore, when processing, HSP’s can be easily overwhelmed, anxious, and even terrified during these cognitive experiences. Yup, that’s me!

Everybody processes their every day experiences through cognition.

"Cognition is a term referring to the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension. These processes include thinking, knowing, remembering, judging and problem-solving. These are higher-level functions of the brain and encompass language, imagination, perception, and planning."

Cognitively, we process with our senses- sight, sound, touch, taste and feel. We all process everything around us- other people, places, things, and situations. We just don’t process them in the same way.

Sometimes processing all these stimuli and integrating them can be a little bit more difficult for HSPs because of all the characteristics in this condition.

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Lately, I’ve been required to process way too much information. A family member of mine is battling cancer and my husband and I have been part of the main caregiving team. My husband is a linear processor. He’s far more logical and pragmatic than me. But, I’m someone that likes to “talk through my processing.” I want to analyze what is happening and understand why I’m feeling a certain way about it.

 Mostly, I process this way because I feel I need to prepare for how I’m going to face it.

As I’ve gotten older and dealt with more experiences in my life, I’ve just naturally and progressively learned to process this way. It helps me feel safe from pain (physical and mental) and ready to confront new challenges and experiences as they arise.

 Honestly, I find this is the healthiest way for me to deal with all of my life’s experiences and challenges. When I talk through my processing, it helps me identify and understand my experiences. Usually, simultaneously or eventually I’m able to accept what is happening within and around me and then deal with it when I process by talking with other people.

Unfortunately, it’s time-consuming and exhausting to process through talk. Sometimes there isn’t anyone to talk to. Most of the time, especially if I’m talking with someone who is not a HSP, the conversation can be misinterpreted or misunderstood. This just leaves me feeling frustrated and more over-processed.

These latest experiences with my family have inspired me to write ways to help other HSP’s and/or caregivers going through similar challenges. I hope to provide solutions and cathartic outlets to anyone who needs to process what is happening to and around them.

So? Ready to process this?

Ways to get through the yucky stuff

that life throws at us:


BREATHE it out!

First and foremost, our breath can immediately calm and center our body when it starts to feel panicked or stressed.

 When you're feeling a certain way about the situation you’re in and you don't like it, use your breath to change how you’re feeling.



STOP what you're doing and thinking-sit down if you need to, even close your eyes if you like.


BREATHE in slowly, as deeply as you can and hold it in for a few minutes. Now let the breath out and repeat this for as long as you need to. Keep doing this until you feel calmer.


BECOME AWARE to how your body feels and imagine turning your mind off with a switch-no thinking. Keep breathing! How does your body feel? Is it restless or agitated? What do you feel in your legs, arms, and belly? Does your body feel hungry or thirsty? Can you feel any vibrations running through your body?


NOTICE the way your body feels...

Follow this link to try an audio mindful breathing guided meditation



CRY it out!

Usually, crying is the best physical way to process anything. Almost always the best and worst feeling ever. A warmth in the core, yet deep pressure in the throat. I love a good cry. Not so much during, but after, it is such a release. After the tears have dried up, the adrenaline seeps out, and the nerves have stopped throbbing, a good cry can replenish the whole body. Try it…let it go…it feels good.


TALK it out!

 Obviously one of my favorite ways to process through challenging life experiences.

Talk processing can be as simple as sitting around with someone you trust and unloading and/or exchanging thoughts. It can also be more extensive and treatment oriented with talk therapies in a more professional setting that involves a therapist or other mental health specialist.


Interestingly, talking out loud to yourself can also be an effective way to process.

Research has found that self-talk can influence behavior and cognition. “Language provides us with this tool to gain distance from our own experiences when we’re reflecting on our lives,” said Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.

The two types of self-talk are instructional self-talk, like talking yourself through a task, and motivational self-talk, like telling yourself, “I can do this.” Hah! You learn (and process) something new every day!


LAUGH it out!

 A funny book, movie, or friend are sure ways to create some giggles. Distraction from your situation gives your mind a break from the seriousness of what’s happening around you.

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing has health benefits too, such as: stimulating several organs (heart, lungs, muscles) and enhancing intake of oxygen, activates and relieves the stress response, and soothes tension.

That’s worth laughing about!

Follow the link to laugh some more. And remember, these are jokes and not meant to be taken seriously!


EXERT it out!

 Any form of exercise helps a person to process difficult emotions and situations. It gives you a moment to be outside your head, not think, and focus your energy within your body. Walking, swimming, jogging, yoga, and any exercise really are all fantastic releasers of the think-y energy. Along with the breath, meditation is also a great way to process negative stimuli and vent it out of your body.

Follow this link to balance negative emotions in a 7-step meditation exercise.


PAMPER it out!

 Most of us have someone(s), (possibly even furry ones) that we have to care for every day. Our people and pets require our caregiving on a regular basis. Hopefully, this is reciprocated and we all receive the care right back. But, when someone who we care for is sick and/or not able to give back, this puts a stress on us and means we have to go it alone for a while. It can feel exhausting, discouraging, and lonely.

 As easy as it might seem to dote everything we have into our sick someone at all costs, it’s not such a great long-term plan. Even when there is absolutely no other way to get help (family member, friend, professional service) with the extra caregiving necessary, it’s always important to find time to take care of yourself too.

 Daily hygiene, regular eating, and other simple tasks may be put on hold while we’re giving extra care to others. It’s natural to put other people’s needs first when these challenges happen to us. There is rarely time to think about it and until we find a system that works where everyone can be taken care of properly, we usually neglect ourselves a little. Finding time for ourselves is difficult when others needs have to be met first, but in the long run, it’s crucial to our entire well-being.

 So, no matter what and as soon as you can…take time to pamper yourself as you process through your situation. Soothe in a long bath. Get your hair cut or styled. Have a nice meal out by yourself or with friends and family. Do something nice and pleasurable for you. It may seem like you’re being selfish, but if you don’t function properly and reenergize yourself, you will burn out fast. You have to take the time to regroup so you can give the best care possible to others.

Follow this link for a list of healthy pleasures to de-stress.


Pampering might occasionally include INDULGING it out!

I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that when I’m stressed or over-processed, the first thing I crave is things that aren’t necessarily the healthiest for me. It’s so natural to want to treat ourselves when we’re giving so much to others. Our brains seem to trick us this way and try to persuade us that we deserve it. In a way, we do. Of course, we deserve pleasure and to get or receive something that feels good, even if it is short term, after constantly being there for other’s needs.

Go ahead and indulge in that yummy snack or food, drink, or activity. I just like to (and have to) keep balance in mind when I indulge, or too many treats lose their treat-i-ness with me. You know what I mean?


LOVE it out!

 Find your tribe.

Try to be around people that inspire you and help you to feel worthy and validated. There’s nothing worse than needing to vent to someone or asking for a hug from someone, only to receive rejection, insensitivity or misunderstanding. Surround yourself with positive people who are empathetic to your situation, and willing to lend an ear.

Try to remember that all that care and love you're giving is so appreciated by your loved one and even if they can't show it (or they act grumpy to you because they feel miserable and not well), remember you are loved right back from them!



WRITE it out!

 For me, aside from talk and all these other techniques, writing is one of the best ways for me to process my stuff.

 The sound of the tap, tap, tapping at the keyboard or the act of putting pen to paper serves as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings.

Follow this link to do some writing prompts that help regulate your feelings.

 When I’m writing, and after, when I’ve re-read what has come out of me, I’m able to identify and understand my experiences more effectively.

 Then I can hopefully accept what is happening within and around me.

 And then, finally, I try to deal with what I need to process.


If not all of it…then as much as I can.





Tracy Bryan writes whimsical books for kids ages 4-12. She likes to tackle important and diverse topics that affect kids and their families. Visit her website welcome page, and on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

Check out Tracy’s non-fiction book called Feeling Sensitive! for kids aged 7-9 about Highly Sensitive Personality.  Also, have a peek at more posts from her blog about this trait: Sensitive...And I Know It! and Why So Sensitive?