Tag Archives: Self-Care

34 Ways To Nourish Your Intellectual Overexcitability

nourish your intellectual overexcitability - woman reading in nature - laugh love learn

Ironic, isn’t it?

Raising kids is the hardest and most fulfilling thing most of us will ever do. Yet at times it can be head-bangingly dull.

I used to neglect my intellectual needs. I could see that good mothers needed to take care of themselves physically and emotionally. But spending time doing something just because I enjoyed the mental challenge felt self-indulgent.

Then I read these words at a PowerWood workshop about overexcitabilities:

Get your intellectual, practical and emotional needs clear and find practical solutions for meeting your own needs.

Simone de Hoogh

 For the first time since I’d become a mother, I felt validated for even having intellectual needs!

We’re better parents – and happier people –  when all our needs are met. So let’s make time to nourish our intellectual selves.

34 Ways To Nourish Your Intellectual Overexcitability

Hit the books

1. Audiobooks used to be a luxury, but with a family Audible subscription, they can cost just a few pounds each –  much less than the print or kindle edition. If you’re a fast reader you may need to train yourself to listen, but it’s worth the investment. I love listening to books while walking the dogs and folding laundry.

2. Start a book group. When a friend suggested we set up a group, I didn’t think I’d have time to read a fiction book each month as well as the piles of non-fiction I love. But I’ve managed somehow, and life has been richer for it.

nourish your intellectual overexcitability

3. School squeezed the joy out of the classics for many of us, but you can enjoy the great works of literature much more when you read them on your own terms and after some life experience. For tips on where to start, check out The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.

4. If your reading time is very scarce, take a look at James Clear’s excellent reading lists for people who don’t have time for unimportant books.

5. Read thought-provoking longform articles at websites like Wait By Why or Brain Pickings.  This one blew my mind.

Tell your own story

6. Get that novel that’s been in your head for years down on paper by joining in NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo.

7. If you don’t feel up to writing a whole novel, how about a short story? Find inspiration here.

8. Maybe poetry’s more your thing? There’s a place for you too.

Anais Nin quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

9. Find readers, feedback and encouragement by joining a writing community.

10. Share your passion and connect with kindred spirits by starting a blog. You needn’t spend a penny and can have your blog up and running within minutes by creating a WordPress hosted site. Find dead easy instructions here.

If you’re more serious, invest in ProBlogger’s Guide To Your First Week Of Blogging, which I read before starting this blog.

Make a game of it

Whether you’re hanging around outside your child’s dance class for a few minutes, or you have an hour to enjoy with your kids, there’s a game for you.

11. Words With Friends (Scrabble-type game). Let the app match you with an opponent, or play a friend. My mum lives three hours away but that doesn’t stop us playing WWF every day.

12. KenKen – arithmetic logic puzzles. We love the app version.

13. Grid logic puzzles – remember when they used to sell books of these? I loved them when I was growing up. You can now find them online, together with a handy tutorial. My son and I love working these puzzles together.

Michael Jordan quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

14. Download a cryptic crossword app or grab a pen and try a few clues in your favourite newspaper. Most are available online if you prefer not to stress yourself out reading the news – see the Guardian, for instance.

15. Depending on how old and how competitive your kids are, board games may – or may not! –  improve your wellbeing. If my baseline is high I love playing chess, Ticket to Ride, Mastermind or Carcassone with my family.

16. Board game apps – Did you know you can play board games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassone and Splendor on your phone? (I’m totally addicted to Ticket to Ride.) The tutorials are great if like me you love complex games but hate reading instructions. And we introverts can enjoy a fun mental workout without the drain of interacting with another person. 😉

Study at Yale while nursing your baby

A generation ago, taking a course meant showing up (child-free) at a regular place for at least an hour every week. Not something busy mums can easily commit to.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) have changed all that. There’s never been an easier time to learn something new, on a schedule to suit you. Here are a few of the many MOOCs on offer:

17. Coursera has a huge selection of courses from the best institutions around the world. Fancy learning about Magic in the Middle Ages? Taking Yale’s Introduction to classical music? Or perhaps you’d prefer Animal behaviour and welfare, or Photography basics: From smartphone to DSLR?

Ghandi quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

18. Here are some FutureLearn courses that caught my eye on a brief scan: The politics and diplomacy of cooking and hospitalityMyths and realities of personalised medicine: the Genetic revolution, The Earth in my pocket: An introduction to geology, Elements of renewable energy, and Antiquities trafficking and art crime.

19. At EdX you can learn, among other things, about the Greatest unsolved mysteries of the Universe, Japanese culture and art, and The ethics of eating.

20. Not all Udemy‘s courses are free but their regular sales mean you never need pay more than £15 for dozens of hours of training. (Bonus: paying incentivises us to complete a course.) Here’s a small sample of what you can learn at Udemy: How to be a yoga laughter facilitator, How to teach your children to be financially wise, and The part-time entrepreneur complete course.

Wrap your tongue around a new language

Not only does learning another language improve your communication skills, it also boosts memory, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities, and makes you less susceptible to dementia. A second (or third) language will also increase your options after your kids have grown.

21. Duolingo I started learning German from absolute beginner level four years ago. As an experiment, I’ve done nothing but one five minute Duolingo lesson a day on my phone. Apparently I’m now 37% fluent! More importantly, I can find the chocolate cake on an Austrian menu, and impress my husband by not needing the subtitles when we’re watching The Man In The High Castle.

haruki Murakami quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

22. Fluent Forever – I highly recommend this book if you’re serious about quickly becoming fluent in another language and enjoy using memory systems. The author is passionate about languages and his website is filled with tools to support you learning 32 different language options from Arabic to Cantonese. I’m learning Italian and brushing up my Spanish with the Fluent Forever system.

23. Listen to an audio language course  in the car or while you’re cooking dinner.

24. Fancy learning a classical language? Peter Jones’ Ancient Greek and Learn Latin are a quirky and fun way to get started.

Become a master crafter

Would you like to try a new craft but you’re not sure what? Think back on how you liked to play when you were growing up. I used to take photos with a pinhole camera and make my own magazines. These days I still love photography and writing.

Or try one of these:

25. Crochet or knitting. Once you’ve mastered the basics, try inventing your own patterns or even new stitches.

26. Research your family history or the history of your local area.

haruki Murakami quote - nourish your intellectual overexcitability - laugh love learn

27. Grow your own food. You could even follow the example of one of my friends in the PowerWood Facebook Group who studies permaculture and is creating an edible forest!

28. Nourish your family as well as your intellect by learning to cook a new dish or even a whole a new style of cuisine.

29. Make your own organic cosmetics and sun screens.

Get smarter together

Nourish your intellectual overexcitability alongside your kids:

30. Watch a BBC  documentary like Orbit Earth or anything with David Attenborough.

31. Teach them to play chess.

32. Tune into a TED Ed talk together.

33. Make music. When we started homeschooling, I had very little time for myself.  For two years my daughter took group guitar lessons then came home and taught me what she’d learned. I’m taking my grade 7 exam soon.

34. Watch an It’s Okay To Be Smart video on YouTube.

Extra resources

Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism, The Telegraph

10 Hobbies worth pursuing for your curious mind, Shout Me Loud

* * *

How do you nourish your intellectual OE?

I’d love to hear from you!

* * *

This post is part of a series on using our overexcitabilities to nourish our souls. See also:

14 Delightful Ways to Use Sensual Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

6 Eclectic Ways to Use Imaginational Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

How to Use Emotional Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

If you’d like to receive the final part of the series – how to use your psychomotor overexcitability to nourish your soul – direct to your inbox, just leave your email address in the ‘Follow by Email’ box below. You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.

How to Stay Sane When Your Kids Fight

How to stay sane when your kids fight - horses fighting

If you want to stay sane when your kids fight and help everyone learn from the process, you need to do three things:

1. Deal with the immediate situation

2. Recover (let go of all the negative energy you’ve absorbed)

3. Help your kids heal and learn from what happened

Here’s a crockery-smashing example from our family.

The Fight

I walk into the kitchen, feeling calm after meditating and looking forward to afternoon tea together. My children are arguing loudly about who gets to microwave their cocoa first.

Someone kicks someone else.

I throw myself between them to prevent escalation.

Unable to hit back, the injured child throws a full cup of cocoa across the room and swipes a jugful of milk off the counter as they storm out.

The Aftermath

1. Deal with the immediate situation

After checking the kicked child is okay, I spend the next half hour picking up broken china, scrubbing cocoa off cupboards, and mopping the floor.

On the outside I’m completely calm, but I know I’m holding back my emotions until it’s safe to process them.

I put the dirty towels in the washing machine and head for my room.

2. Recover

I tell my kids that I’m going to meditate, and quietly suggest they do something to help them calm, too.

Getting calm

As I begin listening to a guided meditation about relationships, tears begin to flow.

However good your boundaries, it’s difficult to be in the thick of intense negative energy without absorbing some.

I give myself an imaginary hug as the soothing words of the meditation wash over me.

Fifteen minutes later I’m feeling much calmer. But when I imagine talking with my children about the incident, I feel stressed again. I need to be fully regulated if I want to help my kids process and learn from what happened.


I decide to use a technique I’ve used many times with clients, my children and on myself.

The Fast Phobia Cure works by recoding the way the brain stores a traumatic event in our memory. It’s more complicated to explain that it is to do, so I won’t go through all the steps now, but if you’re interested leave me a comment and I’ll share the process in a separate post.  In the meantime, these instructions are the clearest I’ve come across (scroll down to How to re-programme your amygdala using NLP).

As I use the Fast Phobia Cure, I check in with myself to see how triggered I feel when I think about the fight. After cycling through the process four times, I can barely summon any negative emotion, but I’m left with a slight heaviness in my chest.

I’m on a roll now, so I tune into the heavy feeling and ask myself which direction it’s moving in. (Emotions are energy, so they can’t stay still.)

I imagine physically removing the feeling from my chest, flipping it over, and replacing it so that it’s  spinning in the opposite direction.

As I notice how much better that feels, I imagine the new, positive feeling spinning faster.

I change the colour of the feeling, from inky black to fluffy pink.

I breathe deeply and imagine golden light filling my body.

This whole process takes less than ten minutes, and leaves me feeling better than ever.

I’m ready to talk with my kids.

Note: Meditation and NLP are my go-to healing processes. Your will be different. Do what works for you. 🙂 

3. Helping children learn from what’s happened

There is no failure. Only feedback.

Robert G Allen

Every breakdown carries an opportunity for a breakthrough. But first we have to get to a place where we can think.

I sit quietly on the bed of the child who threw the mug. They’ve been looking at cute cat photos. I acknowledge them for doing something to help them get calm. I share the steps I took to feel better.

They say they feel better, but angry tears fill their eyes as they say bitterly, ‘But I’m I not ready to forgive XXX!’

We talk about how forgiveness isn’t about the other person – it’s about choosing to feel better ourselves. ‘Holding onto anger is like taking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.’

We go downstairs. The person who kicked apologises.

The child who was kicked hugs their sibling and says, ‘It’s okay. Anyone else would’ve kicked me a lot sooner. I love you.’

We all smile through our tears at this child’s quirky humour.

Over dinner, we discuss the argument that led up to the fight. Both children realise that it was caused by assumption and miscommunication. We talk about how arguments escalate when our window of stress tolerance is small. We decide to practise non-violent communication techniques soon.

If you have very young children

Don’t worry if your kids are too young to leave unsupervised while you go somewhere peaceful to process your emotions.

Do whatever it takes to stay sane in the moment, and retreat to do the healing work when your kids are in bed or another adult takes over childcare.

The important thing is to reach a point where you can stay authentically regulated while you talk with your children about what happened.

 * * *

Things around here are rarely this extreme, but I know we’re not the only ones who experience this level of physical and emotional intensity from time to time.

Let’s not feel shame.  Let’s appreciate ourselves for doing the best we can to help our awesome kids manage their intensity.

I feel quite vulnerable writing posts like this, but it’s worth it if it helps even one other person know they’re not alone. We’re all in this together.?

* * *

Do you want to read more about living positively with intensity and sensitivity?  Leave your email address in the box at the bottom of the page to receive posts direct to your inbox.  You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.


Photo credit: SilviaP_Design

6 Eclectic Ways To Use Imaginational Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul



People with imaginational overexcitability have creative minds that need regular feeding. If we don’t get enough stimulation we can feel unfulfilled and bored by life. On the other hand, if we get too much stimulation we can have trouble switching off to relax and sleep at night.

And when we let our baselines get low, our active imaginations can create runaway anxiety, generating bleak scenarios in which our kids never make friends or learn to do anything except play videogames.

Here are 5 eclectic suggestions for how you might use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul:

1. Creative play

As busy parents we can find it hard to make time for our own creative needs, but doing so not only nourishes our souls but also shows our children that creative play doesn’t have to end in childhood.

If you’ve lost touch with your creative side, think back on what you used to enjoy before you had a family. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Art – Paint a picture, make a collage, draw a sketch, work a sculpture or try art journalling

Write – a story, poem, song, skit, blogpost, journal entry, or letter to a friend

Craft – flower-arranging, embroidery, woodwork

Design – a menu, garden, room, outfit, photo collage or app

Move – choreograph a dance, plan a workout or yoga sequence

2. Visit imaginary worlds

If you’re not in the mood for creating your own, let your imagination roam in someone else’s art by losing yourself in a story, watching a movie or play, or immersing yourself in poetry.

3. Solve problems by asking powerful questions

We can solve problems and work towards goals by asking powerful questions.

In his book, Secrets of Productive People: The 50 Strategies You Need to Get Things Done, Mark Forster writes, ‘At the heart of the questioning attitude is the simple psychological fact that once the mind has been asked a question it tries to answer it.’

Ways to use the questioning technique

Ask ‘Why?’ questions and follow up with ‘How?’ questions


If your child keeps having meltdowns at his gymnastics class, you might ask,

‘Why does Sam have meltdowns at gymnastics?’ then

‘How can I help Sam stay regulated during gymnastics?’

Repeat questions

Ask the same question repeatedly over several days, without looking back on your previous answers. ‘Whenever a question is repeated it tends to start of a new train of thought in our minds,’ explains Mark Forster.

Use questions to generate ideas

Ask questions like, ‘What are my five best ideas for encouraging Ella to practise writing?’ or ‘What are my five best ideas for next year’s family holiday?’

‘In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have taken for granted.’

Bertrand Russell

Read more about how to use powerful questions on Mark Forster’s blog here and here.

4. Guided visualisation

We all know about the benefits of meditation, but if you have a busy imagination you might find your mind wanders too much to be able to meditate in silence. One solution is to engage your imagination with a guided visualisation.

You might imagine walking down a beautiful path in nature, or by the sea, or exploring a lush garden. Either make up your own, or listen to a recording.

Guided visualisation resources

WebsiteRelax For a While lets you stream visualisations for free or you can pay to download MP3’s

YouTube:  See 7 Best YouTube Guided Meditations  or search for ‘guided visualisation’

Apps: like Headspace or Buddhify

Family visualisations: When my kids were younger we loved Christiane Kerr’s delightful enchanted meditations CDs

Books: Creative Visualization, Shakti Gawain (a classic that got me started down this path more than 20 years ago)

Relax Kids: The Wishing Star, Marneta Viegas

5. Improve a relationship with the meta-mirror

If you’re experiencing conflict in a relationship, try using this meta-mirror NLP technique to free up your thinking and help you get unstuck:

(1) Describe the problem from your point of view

(2) Imagine stepping into the other person’s shoes. Describe how they would view the problem (use ‘I …’  statements)

(3) How would an impartial observer watching this problem describe it?  What would they see? (again, use ‘I… ‘ statements)

(4) Reflect on how these perspectives could help resolve the conflict

6. Play the ‘What If?’ game

This is a fun game you can play any time, any place with your kids. All you do is take turns asking and answering ‘What if?’ type questions.


‘What would you do if you had the power of invisibility?’

‘Where would you go if you could time travel?’

‘What do you think the world will be like in 2050?’

‘What would the world be like if cats were in charge?’

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How do you use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul?

I’d love to hear from you!

* * *

You might also enjoy the other posts in this series:

14 Delightful ways to use sensual overexcitability to nourish your soul

How to use emotional overexcitability to nourish your soul

Next in this series, I’ll be reflecting on how we can use intellectual overexcitability to nourish our souls. Leave your email address in the box at the bottom of the page to be sure of receiving that post direct to your inbox. 🙂  You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.


Photo credit: Jill Wellington

14 Delightful Ways to Use Sensual Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

autumn leaves - how to use sensual overexcitability

The modern world can be a stressful place for those of us with the intense sensitivity that sensual overexcitability brings.  We share a planet with more people and machines than ever before, and we spend less and less time in natural light.

On the other hand, those of us blessed with sensual OE can feel more intense pleasure in a single moment than our less sensitive friends might feel in a lifetime.

So let’s not take our gifts for granted. Let’s use our sensitivity by making time every day to enjoy simple pleasures that make our hearts sing!

14  Ways we can use sensory overexcitability to nourish our souls

Sensory experiences are deeply personal. Something that delights me could leave you cold or even trigger you, so I asked my lovely friends at the PowerWood Facebook group to help me with this list.

I hope you find something here that inspires you.

1. Light a fragrant candle

What is it about the stillness of a candle flame that gently calls us to the present moment and melts away the cares of the day?

Candles - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Skeeze

2. Stand at an open window at sunrise

What colour is the sky? How does the air feel against your skin? Can you hear the sweet chorus of birds celebrating a new day?

3. Luxuriate in a hot bath or shower

Space NK bath oils - how to use sensual overexcitability

A generous friend gifted me a set of these mini Space NK bath oils many years ago. I’ve used them to enhance bath times ever since.

4. Hug a tree

Find a big old tree and wrap your arms around its trunk, rest your cheek against its warm bark, and feel the power of its primordial energy flowing  through you.

I do this most days. I like to bring a little laughter into the days of my fellow dog-walkers!

5. Cuddle up with a pet

Girl cuddling kitten and dog - how to use sensual overexcitability

6. Absorb the power of the ocean

Sign A walk on the beach is good for the soul - how to use sensual overexcitability

Many of my sensitive friends mentioned the sea as a favourite source of sensory pleasure:

‘I love the sea in every single possible phase… I need its stillness. Its wildness. Its power…. there aren’t enough words really. It comforts me on a level that I can’t begin to explain, raw and deep.’

‘It deals with all the senses in calming and exhilarating ways.’

‘I love wild crashing waves.’

‘Smelling ozone.’

7. Massage your cares away

Give yourself a mini-aromatherapy massage by smoothing on some scented body lotion.

8. Nurture a garden

When my friend Hannah signed up for an allotment (community garden) to give her kids the benefit of growing and nurturing food from seed, she found benefits she hadn’t foreseen:

‘Being there resets my self… The combination of fresh, clean air, wide open skies, mud and pollen is a powerful and rejuvenating thing… it’s not just the seedlings that are nurtured and nourished.  It is us – as a family, as individuals.’

Flowers - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Hans

9. Indulge in the sensory pleasure of food

However much you enjoy cooking, when you have to provide nutritious family meals day after day, food can become more of a chore than a pleasure.

But If we’re mindful, food can be a wonderful source of sensory delight. It doesn’t have to be complicated – for me, the vibrant hues and fragrant aroma of freshly sliced watermelon are quite heavenly.

Watermelon - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Condesign

If you also have emotional OE, you might find inspiration in The Emotional Cook recipe book.

What food nourishes your soul?

10. Hug someone you love

11. Get comfy

Slip out of all those buttoned and zipped-up day clothes and pull on your pjs. Even if it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

12. Play your favourite music (loudly)

One PowerWood friend loves ‘listening to classical music … strings …  in the car while driving in the dark.’

Another said, ‘I love music. Especially in the car. Something euphoric with a strong baseline… Loud.’

I’ve found myself driving round the block a few times at the end of a long car journey, just to hear another song or two!

13. Brew a cup of fragrant tea

In a teapot if you have one. Or treat yourself to a proper cup of coffee and bask in its rich aroma before each sip.

‘I let the tea seep as I dream and breathe. Each sip is a celebration of health, vitality, and serenity. I am quiet with myself. I have faith in Being.’

Christine Ford

14. Feast your eyes on fine art

If you can’t make it to a gallery, explore online using an app like Art HD.

Claude Monet Jardin à Sainte Adresse - how to use sensual overexcitability

Do you have sensual overexcitability?

How do you nourish your soul?

Leave me a comment and I’ll add your favourite sensory experiences to this list. ❤️


What is sensual overexcitability?

PowerWood Facebook Group (a place to share ideas, information and encouragement about intensity, super-sensitivity and hyper-reactivity (OEs))

4 Self-care habits every woman must embrace (blog post)

My senses, my gifts (blog post)

The art appreciation blog

Art HD (art gallery app)

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For more ideas about how to use your sensitivities and intensity to nourish your soul, see my other posts in this series:

How to use emotional overexcitability to nourish your soul.

6 Eclectic ways to use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul

How to use intellectual overexcitability to nourish your soul (coming soon)

How to use psychomotor overexcitability to nourish your soul (coming soon)

To receive my regular posts about how to enjoy family life with intensity and sensitivity, leave your email address in the Follow by Email box at the top of the page. ? You can also like the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page.


How to Use Emotional Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

emotional overexcitabiity

Self care is a necessity, not a luxury, for those of us blessed with parenting differently-wired children.

Raising and advocating for our kids in a world not designed for them can take its toll, especially if we have sensitivities of our own.

Most of us are all too aware of the challenges overexcitabilities bring, but let’s not forget that OEs also allow us to experience the good things in life more intensely.

This post is the first in a series looking at self care through the lens of each of the OEs, starting today with emotional overexcitability.

Soul-nourishment for people with emotional overexcitability

We folk with emotional overexcitability feel things intensely.

Even a short errand can leave us feeling drained after we see a homeless guy begging outside the supermarket and a frazzled mum shouting at her toddler in the checkout line.

We’d love to be able to give the homeless man a warm bed for the night and to scoop up that toddler and tell her it’s not her fault her mummy yelled.

We can’t right all the wrongs in the world in one day. But by being compassionate with ourselves we’ll find ways we can make a difference – even if it’s just by being the kindest, wisest parents we’re capable of being.

10 Ways to use your emotional OE to nourish your soul

(1) Take 5 minutes to meditate on an uplifting emotion

Choose a positive emotion – fun, peaceful and playful are among my favourites. Slowly repeat the word to yourself, enjoying the memory of times you felt that way. You might be surprised at how the word – and the feeling – pop up at random times later in the day.

I do this before I get out of bed every morning – before any negative momentum has had a chance to get going.

Bonus: List as many positive emotion words as you can and make them into a word cloud. I felt wonderful after making the one above!

(2) Spread a little joy by performing an act of random kindness

Research shows that kindness makes us happier, boosts our immune systems and improves our relationships by elevating our oxytocin levels.

The random element is important here. People with emotional OE are drawn to helping others, and when our reserves are low we risk draining our own resources in the process.

By looking for opportunities to be randomly kind, we introduce an element of playfulness that shakes away resentment and rewards us with a healthy hit of feel-good chemicals.

(3) Tap into the healing power of animals

Spend time with a loyal pet, do a google search for ‘cute baby your favourite animal’ images, or watch an OE-friendly nature documentary with your kids (ie not one where the baby gazelle gets picked off by the cheetah).

Even watching cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions, with studies showing that the emotional payoff outweighs any feelings of guilt over time-wasting.

Being mindful of your intentions is key here. Cleaning out the cat litter or hamster cage doesn’t count, though brushing or walking the dog might.

(4) Tune into the good news

By most accounts the world is a safer, better place now than it ever has been – but you wouldn’t know that from the mainstream media.

When you need reminding of all that’s good in the world, turn off the TV and spend five minutes looking at the heart-warming stories over at The Good News Network.

(5) Drop through negative emotions

When you feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, try this exercise I use with my therapy clients:

First ask yourself, ‘What’s the name of the emotion I’m feeling right now?

Don’t think too hard – whatever comes to mind first is okay. Name the emotion out loud.

Then ask, ‘If I were to drop through this emotion, what’s the emotion underneath that?

Close your eyes and imagine yourself physically dropping through the emotion. Repeat these two questions until you find relief.

I’ve had clients drop through layers of emotions for between 5 and 45 minutes. Eventually they always get to the feeling of peace that is at the core of who we all are.

(6) Keep a list of positive aspects

Make a note of nice things that happen or that you appreciate in a List of Positive Aspects. Mine includes entries like, ‘Ate the first tomato from this year’s plants’, ‘Nice email from C’s French teacher’ and ‘Beautiful autumn trees’.

Both the act of writing and looking back over my list help nourish my soul.

(7) Make a regular date with your partner

When you have kids, it’s easy to find your life running in parallel from your partner’s. A few months ago my husband and I decided to get intentional about spending regular quality time with one another. (Quality time as in, not slumped in front of the TV together after a busy day at work.)

Every Sunday morning we now walk our dogs together then have coffee at an outdoor cafe. (A treat for me because my husband doesn’t really understand the point of having coffee out, so I feel loved just by him being there with me!)

We chat about each others’ weeks, the children, and then once all that’s out of the way we usually find ourselves talking about something completely different and really interesting, which reminds me why we married each other and makes me feel excited about sharing the rest of my life with this man.

smiling couple in autumn woods - emotional overexcitability

Bonus: Take a selfie on each date. Did you know that taking selfies can increase happiness and gratitude, decrease stress and deepen connections?

(8) Watch an episode of your favourite comedy show

The Big Bang Theory, The Middle, Modern Family, Friends… Writers of these shows are paid big bucks to activate our feel-good systems.

I challenge you not to feel better after watching an episode!

(9) Connect with an uplifting friend

If, like me, you’re an intense type who’s inclined to spend every moment you’re not with your kids being ‘productive’ (working (paid or voluntary), doing admin, organising the home or practising cello), you may have a tendency to let friendships slide.

People who have emotional OE have the ability to enjoy deep, lasting friendships. Be sure to make time for the uplifting people in your life – and be willing to let go of those who have the opposite effect.

(10) Feel awe

When I posted this photo on Instagram, I captioned it: ‘Sometimes I feel so full of awe at the magnificence of nature. I feel at once tiny and insignificant and yet extraordinarily loved, as if nature is putting on a spectacular event just for me.’

beach at sunset - emotional overexcitability

Later I discovered that psychologists consider awe to be ‘one of the most pleasurable and motivating positive emotions’ (Jane McGonigal, Superbetter).

Awe also changes our perception of time. When we feel awe for a moment or two, we feel we have more time for our own goals, are less impatient, and are more likely to volunteer time to help others.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait until we happen to see a beautiful sunset or magnificent waterfall to feel awe – we can also enjoy the effect by watching videos of things we find awe-inspiring, or by writing a few sentences about a time we experienced awe.

Resources and hat tips

Top 3 tips to up your energy and resilience level (if you have emotional OE) PowerWood (article)

5 Side Effects of Kindness David Hamilton (article)

Watching cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions The Independent (article)

The Good News Network (website)

SuperBetter Jane McGonigal (book)

How taking selfies and these types of photos can increase happiness and gratitude, decrease stress and deepen connections Hey, Sigmund (article)

Living With Intensity Susan Daniels and Michael Piechowski (book)

Your Rainforest Mind Paula Prober (book – see my review)

What are overexcitabilities? (article on this blog)

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Do you have emotional OE?

How do you nourish your soul?

I’d love to hear from you!

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This post is part of a series on how we can use our overexcitabilities to nourish our souls. See also:

How to use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul

14 Delightful Ways to Use Sensual Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

34 Ways to Nourish Your Intellectual Overexcitability

How to use psychomotor overexcitability to nourish your soul (coming soon)

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I’d love you to join me learning how to have fun in a sensitive and intense family. To receive my weekly posts direct to your inbox, leave your email address in the Follow by Email box at the top of the page. 🙂


Why Raising Our Personal Baseline is the Key to Parenting Our Intense and Sensitive Children

Why Raising Our Personal Baseline is the Key to Parenting Our Intense and Sensitive Children

Have you ever resolved to make a change in the way you parent?

Perhaps you want to stay calmer when your child has a meltdown, or allow more time for everyone to get ready for school?

Maybe you want to be a better listener when your son tells you about his latest project, or be more understanding when your daughter refuses to join in the swimming class you’ve just driven 30 minutes to get to?

The life cycle of a parenting goal

Whatever your goal, if you’re anything like me, you wake up in the morning feeling inspired, energised and eager to roll out the new you.

Everything goes well for the first few hours of the day (or the first few minutes).

The kids join you in bed for five minutes of snuggles before you all get up. Teeth-cleaning becomes a fun game everyone enjoys. You don’t rush your son as he selects a T-shirt that feels just right against his skin. You skilfully defuse an argument about who gets to feed the guinea pig his celery stick before anyone ends up in tears.

And then …

You realise you forgot to charge your phone the night before. You spend an unplanned-for 10 minutes scraping ice off the car windscreen which makes you late for your doctor’s appointment. The washing machine refuses to drain (with your daughter’s football kit trapped inside). Your youngest has a meltdown because he forgot to bring his blue bunny on the journey to the supermarket. And you get home to discover the hall full of feathers leading to a decapitated pigeon in the sitting room. (Maybe only cat owners will understand this last one.)

Ten minutes of vacuuming feathers and scrubbing blood off the skirting board later (all the while fending off one child’s questions about bird anatomy while reassuring the other that you’re sure the pigeon didn’t suffer), you think about cooking dinner.

By this point you are most definitely not the parent you dreamed of being during those first, promising moments of the day.

Life happens. Our delightfully intense children behave in their wonderful, full-on ways from the moment they bounce out of bed in the morning until the second they fall asleep at night. And we react to all this through the kaleidoscope of our own overexcitabilities.

How I gave up trying to be the perfect parent

I used to fantasise about having a pause button for my life. When I felt myself getting overwhelmed I would press pause and instantly create an hour’s peace, in which I could recharge and become the perfect parent I dreamed of being.

Over the years I’ve realised that it’s not only the pause button that doesn’t  exist – neither does the perfect parent.

What I can do is ensure that I’m as good a parent as I can be at any point in my life (and that’s good enough).

How do I make sure I’m as good a parent as I can be? By building up what Simone de Hoogh* calls my ‘baseline’.

What is our personal ‘baseline’?

How high or low our baseline is depends on the combination of our energy level and the strength of our resilience.


The amount of physical and emotional energy we have is the difference between feeling like we’re sinking or swimming in our lives.

Sometimes we have barely enough energy to keep our heads above water.

Other times we bob along, happily on top of things.

At times we might even have an abundance of energy, with enough spare to try new things. These are the times when we’re able to take steps towards our parenting goals and help our children deal with challenges.


Our resilience, meanwhile, affects how we react to the little (and big) problems life throws at us. If our resilience is low, we’re easily upset when things go wrong. Even small annoyances can escalate and ruin everyone’s day.

But when our resilience is high, we can use problems to help us move towards our goals. When we know what we don’t want, we know better what we do want. This is what psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski had in mind when he referred to using our OEs as energy for self-directed emotional growth. (I talked a bit about Dabrowski’s theory in this post.)

What drains our personal energy?

Our personal baseline is usually highest when we wake up in the morning.

Then, throughout the day, the energy element of our baseline takes a hit each time one of these kind of things happens:

  • we behave differently from how we feel
  • we hold back from expressing ourselves
  • we don’t respect our limits (e.g. we say no when we mean yes, or we don’t do what we promised)
  • we resist physical urges, like eating, drinking, or needing to go to the loo (bathroom 😉 )

We can’t avoid these hits completely – certainly not while we live in families!

But raising our baseline can help in two ways.

How raising our energy helps

(1) The higher our baseline is, the more hits we can take before we crash.

(Psychologists call this point when we run out of will-power ‘ego depletion’, but that doesn’t sound quite dramatic enough to me.)

(2) When our baseline is high, we make better choices and can plan ahead.

So the big question is, how do we raise our baseline?

What can we do to top up our energy levels and boost our resilience?

I’ll be looking at this question over the next few weeks, starting with a guest post over at Motherhood The Real Deal –  5 Keys to Staying Sane as a Mum to Sensitive and Spirited Kids.

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What changes would you make if you had abundant energy?

How do you take care of yourself when your reserves are running low?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments, or on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page.

An OE Family on Holiday

I’m just back from a week’s skiing in Italy with my lovely family. You can read about some of our  quirky experiences  in this light-hearted post next week – 10 Things That Happen to OE Families on Vacation (that probably don’t happen to other families).

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* Huge thanks to Simone de Hoogh for sharing the ideas I’ve talked about in this post. Simone is a parenting consultant specialising in supporting families dealing with overexcitabilities. To find out more about her work, visit the PowerWood website, or click here to book a free one-hour Skype consultation with Simone.

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