Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HSP On The Road: Joshua Tree

I am not home, at the moment. I am typing these words from the funky living room of a small bungalow in Joshua Tree, California. It has been a while since I last traveled-- almost precisely two years.

This morning, I was having conversations with myself-- inside my head-- as to whether or not I have really missed the change of scenery.

Let me preface this by saying that I experience travel and adventures through the eyes of a LOW "sensation seeker" HSP. I am one of those who prefers routines and "the known" to adventures and the unknown. And I have never really felt compelled to "collect experiences," for their own sake.

Traveling is overwhelming. You go to a place you don't know, and you don't have your "stuff" and you're probably on a different schedule than you're used to. Things around you are unfamiliar, and (depending on where you are) maybe even the food is unfamiliar. These are all things that don't sit so well with many of us HSPs

What I do really like about traveling is that it offers me the chance to get away from the ever-present piles of "things I need to get done," and the attendant sense of stress and pressure that comes with knowing that no matter how hard I might try, there will always be more "things" in need of doing than there is "me."

As I sit here and look out across the back patio onto a yard filled with unfamiliar vegetation and wildlife, I feel a certain degree of relaxation come over me... from settling into the realization that there is not a thing I can do about all the stuff clamoring for my attention, back at home. I might as well just relax.

Of course, it has taken me some years to learn to "stop worrying" while I am away.

A tendency to "worry" seems to go hand-in-hand with being a Highly Sensitive Person. Maybe it's that sense of "conscientiousness" Elaine Aron talks about, in her books. I worry, because I feel like I am not being conscientious enough about my work, when I am away from that work. At least I used to. And I used to feel like I was "failing" people by "daring" to take time off. The irony of that is that I never thought anything negative about other people for taking time off...

I expect these feelings have been exacerbated by the fact that I am self-employed in a "company of one." The infamous "buck" stops with me.

Taking time off does give me the opportunity to engage in one of my favorite pastimes: "sitting and thinking." And while engaged in sitting and thinking, I often feel my mind and body let go of all the tension and stress that has built up, as a result of normal daily life.

HSPs are often uncomfortable with the unfamiliar... so we tend to avoid it. I know I often have. There may be all sorts of truisms about "stretching your boundaries" and "stepping out of your comfort zone," but to what end do we do so? And is it really helpful... or is the very fact that we have-- and get to be in-- a comfort zone part of what makes us able to feel centered, as HSPs?

What do YOU think? First of all, do you enjoy travel, and the change of scenery? Or does it just stress you out? Do you find "unfamiliar territory" to be a good thing, or a bad thing? On a broader level than just travel, do you think that "pushing outside your comfort zone" is important for HSPs? Or do you feel more like the very fact that you have a comfort zone and stick to it, is what keeps you grounded? Do share and leave a comment!

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  1. I absolutely love traveling, but if there is a lack of a routine of chaos, it is too much for me. I bring my own food, limit alcohol and caffeine, and try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. This is easier when we are traveling on our own. Visiting friends and family can be very challenging.

  2. I like traveling when 1. I go into having extra resources to cope with the changes and differences and 2. I have the ability to make things manageable. Similar to Bethany, that means getting enough sleep, avoiding problematic food, setting a sustainable pace, etc. Agree that traveling with other people can be very challenging.

    We used to always vacation at fast-paced, stimulating locations like Disneyland. After I discovered I was HSP it made sense why I was always a mess. After that, I made a point to eat more in line with what I did at home, we got two rooms so I could retreat into needed silence when my husband and kids were still going strong, etc. and it made such a difference! We started taking some low-stimulation vacations, too - Muir Woods, the beach, a horse ranch. It was hard on my husband, but he saw the positive results. Having some balance is key.

    There is benefit to pushing outside my comfort zone, but I've learned it needs to be the exception and not the rule. If the majority of my life is lived within my comfort zone, it allows me to have some resources leftover for pushing outside it when needed.


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