I am a highly sensitive person. What does that mean? Well, for me, it means that I am more emotionally sensitive than the “average” person. I am also more sensitive to sensory stimulation – especially sound in the form of sudden, loud noises.
So while I have a love and appreciation for Independence Day and all that it means for me as a resident and citizen of the United States, I also dread the 4th of July celebrations, particularly the fireworks. Now, I enjoy watching fireworks light up the evening skies, but the constant explosive sounds can ramp up my anxiety in seconds.
Some of you may have canine companions at home, and if so, your furry friends can become quite anxious when the fireworks start going off. I have a couple of four-legged children of the canine persuasion myself. If your cuddly kiddos get upset by the sounds and commotion of Independence Day fireworks, you likely do what you can to help them stay calm and reduce their anxiety. For me, and perhaps for other highly sensitive persons out there, it can be quite difficult to keep your pets calm when you feel like jumping out of your own skin.
If this sounds at all familiar, I just want you to know that I hear you – yes, even above the intensely sharp and booming cacophony of those beautiful, awe-inspiring fireworks shows.
So… how can we take care of our highly sensitive selves when it comes to managing our sound sensitivities and the anxiety they can cause?
This is what helps me to prepare for an evening of sudden, loud noises:
- Deep breathing
- Not getting too close (I can usually enjoy seeing the fireworks from a far enough distance that the sounds don’t overwhelm me)
- Listening to relaxing music through headphones
- Engaging in activities that require acute attention to details
The cool thing about fireworks is – generally we are aware of when they are most likely to occur. This gives us the opportunity to plan ahead and take steps to care of ourselves and our sensitivities.
So to all of my fellow highly sensitives, those who struggle to manage feeling overwhelmed by the sounds of the holidays, and those who work to cope daily with the anxiety that can come from higher sensitivity – have a gentle, safe, and happy (and sound-reduced-or-muted) Independence Day!
Kristen Henshaw, a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern at Counseling South Austin under the supervision of Ann Stoneson, LPC-S, specializes in working with anxious and highly sensitive persons on a variety of concerns. She practices holistic (mind-body-spirit) and affirming counseling tailored for each unique and diverse individual. To learn more, contact her for a free thirty-minute consultation.