Highly Sensitive Child

[Have a highly sensitive child? Find out how you can incorporate respectful parenting so you can parent your highly sensitive child with joy.]

Have you ever been told that you were too sensitive? Or maybe you feel like your child tends to be overly sensitive? Today, on the Soul Care Mom Podcast, I talk with Amy Vasterling about what it means to be a highly sensitive person or to have a highly sensitive child. Discover how you can better understand yourself and your child and learn the gifts that come from being highly sensitive. Plus, find out how you can incorporate respectful parenting so that guiding your highly sensitive child through life is a joy.

Let's get started.

Catherine Wilde

Hi There Soulful Mama! Welcome to the Soul Care Mom Podcast. I'm Catherine Wilde of soulcaremom.com. I'm a mom of three amazing kids, a Soul Care Mom Coach and, yoga and meditation teacher. I've helped hundreds of women. And I'm here to help you feel calm and find your unshakable confidence as a mom. If you're ready to stop living in survival mode and you're ready to drop the mom guilt and overwhelm this podcast is for you.

Think of this is a lunch date with a girlfriend, grab a cup of tea, and get cozy.

It's time to get honest and vulnerable and shift the traditional mindset around motherhood.

Catherine Wilde

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Catherine Wilde

Hi, Amy, I'm so excited to get to chat with you today. Thank you for joining me.

Amy Vasterling

Catherine, it's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Catherine Wilde

I love the work that you do, and I definitely want to get into that. But I would love to start a little bit further back. Can we start with how you remember being parented and how that influenced the way you chose to parent your children? And any lessons that you learned along the way?

Amy Vasterling

Well, how long do you have? I think that my childhood is actually quite complex and so complex, you know, that it's hard to say exactly this is what was happening there. But to some degree, all of us are creatives. And I believe that in my family there are a lot of highly sensitive people. And that's going to lead me to what I'm going to talk about eventually here with you. But nobody knew that. And so instead of honoring and owning that, we fought against it.

Amy Vasterling

And I think that that set me up to separate myself from what I would call my knowing. And I think that that was a kind of a recipe for disaster. So when it came to parenting my own children, I didn't know what I was doing. But you know how parents you might hear commonly you parent the same way your parents parented or your parent the opposite way. And for some reason, when it came to my kids, this is odd, but I literally felt like I was breaking into two. Like it hurt almost.

Amy Vasterling

And I think what I was doing is evicting doing what my parents did or the opposite of them. And finding an alternative way to parent that was unique to myself so that I would say my childhood taught me something incredibly profound about relationships and connection. But it was not a fun childhood.

It wasn't easy. There was a lot of manipulation and blame. I would just say rabid co-dependency with hot narcissism put on top as though it was like oozing fudge that we should love and eat up. So it was really masked.

Amy Vasterling

And and I think that, for me, it just made it really confusing. Because it really looked like love, it really seemed right. But behind closed doors, it was something that felt really tricky for me. But out in society, we looked amazing as a family. And I'm from a big family. I mean, I have four siblings and then my two parents. So seven of us tooling around town. You know, it seemed like just this idyllic group.

Amy Vasterling

And we're creative and we're sharp. And so couldn't have seemed better in some ways. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, it was tricky. I also am the youngest of the five and I'm separated by quite a few years.

I think that also through a different dynamic in there for me. But I made that into gold. I really looked at it and stepped back from it to see what was that about and how do I look at my own children?

Do You Have A Highly Sensitive Child?

Catherine Wilde

Yes, that's beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. OK, you mentioned highly sensitive children and you work with parents of highly sensitive children. Can you share what it means to be a highly sensitive child?

And how might a mom know if she has a highly sensitive child?

Amy Vasterling

Yeah, absolutely, Catherine. I mean, what I've noticed is when kids are little, they hit these thresholds. So parents will very much see it when they're at this age or this age of this age. But for the most part, they're kids that can sometimes seem a little bit too much or too sensitive, or I think the word, too, is synonymous with kids that are highly sensitive. So that's kind of a quick way to think in your head.

If you're watching your child. Both my kids are highly sensitive, but they're different. And one of my kids seems too aggressive, but she's actually too curious. So it's like things tipped over fast with her. But she also is a bouncer. So sometimes it can seem a little convoluted. But there are actually twenty-seven traits of highly sensitive people and I would refer parents to Elaine Aaron. To look at her work and really tune into those traits.

Amy Vasterling

There are even evaluations for adults and teenagers. I'm not sure if there are any evaluations for little kids, but it's sort of an inventory to see how many attributes are represented in you that are highly sensitive but highly sensitive. People actually have a different nervous system. I'm highly sensitive as well. Our ability to process information is so much more sensitive and aware that if we go someplace, we're taking in fifty thousand more attributes about what's happening around us.

Amy Vasterling

And so that's why I highly sensitive people tend to be about 70 percent of them are introverts. And I think a lot of the reason is they need time alone to process. And so they actually gain energy by being alone. But 30 percent are extroverts, so they gain energy by being with others. But the big thing with the highly sensitive is they really do have to kind of be coached all their life instead of managed, which until kids are about 10 or 11, we tend to manage their lives, especially until they're at least seven.

Amy Vasterling

But after that, we tend to start coaching them slowly until they're about 11 or 12, and then we really coach them. And that's something I found that highly sensitive kids are very unique on. They're very self-sustaining. And that's what I found and what I see in my work is the highly sensitive.

Once you understand how to parent them, they're your easiest child, the parent, because they're so self-correcting, self-guiding, self-understanding that they rarely waver from what they know is true for themselves. And they tend to have strong, ethics about how to live life.

Amy Vasterling

So they really become simple to parent. But that journey truly, Catherine, that journey and finding out are they highly sensitive is kind of tricky because they can fall into a lot of diagnoses and so on. And that's actually not true for the highly sensitive. But if they end up going that route, what happens is we turn them away from what they know is true more and more and more, and it makes them worse off. And so then they behave outwardly in a myriad of ways.

So that's what we want to figure out, is if we kind of allow that child and I say it's breaking them free of a model. But if we can help our family, break free of that model, that highly sensitive child is going to really, really thrive. And they will become extraordinarily easy to parent because they're very self-guiding, like I said.

Amy Vasterling

So hopefully that helps is a little bit tricky to say. This is how the one thing I will say is kind of a hallmark. As I've noticed, kids that are six to seven years old, they were happy and maybe a little bit shy, but easygoing to some degree. And then they got to seven years old and they're in first grade and they start to really struggle in school. It's overwhelming to them. They come home and they say things like they're overwhelmed.

That actually is a sign that they are bucking. They're here to buck the system of how we learn the established routine of schedule. They're here to actually say this can be done differently to some degree. And so that's bothering them. But kids that are in about a third of fourth grade, because that's another common age to see highly sensitive children really kind of break down. So nine to ten years old, those kids tend to already preemptively be feeling the social structure that's coming in middle school.

Amy Vasterling

And they're starting to say, oh, all of a sudden Jenny's really focused on clothes and all of a sudden this kid's, and they don't like that. They want people to be themselves and they can see that coming. So they start to become kind of disconnect. Socially awkward, they don't want to go to events, they want to start to isolate more, and that's actually can be appropriate for those kids, even though that really is hard to hear and hard for us.

There are ways to push highly sensitive kids, but it's always about helping them move further in the direction that they're already headed and not necessarily broad. So that, again, this is a big definition and it's not like you have it or you don't right away.

It takes some reading and taking a look at it to really understand, is my child highly sensitive? But that message I said in the beginning if you say there too much or too this or that, that tends to be too wild, too. That's probably a sign.

Catherine Wilde

Yes. So there's a big range here or spectrum maybe where someone could fit in is not just one set description that fits a highly sensitive child.

Amy Vasterling

Right? Kind of. But the thing is, either you are you aren't it? So so because it's a nervous system, 20 percent of our population in the world has this highly sensitive personality type.

Amy Vasterling

And they might be kids who get wound up so fast and they can't calm down. They might be more anxious than other kids, although across the board and kids are more anxious than they've ever been literally in the history of the world. So, again, it becomes a little skewed by that.

But there are definite hallmarks to tell. And the trick is your pediatrician is not going to know what a highly sensitive personality type is. I mean, that would be a rarity. Your psychologist, your school counselor, your educators, your district that you're in for school, your family and friends, they're not going to know what this term means. And that's where starting to figure it out and help the child assimilate to these everyday situations so that the child isn't saying, well, I'm highly sensitive, poor me.

Amy Vasterling

But instead of saying, Grandma, I don't want to go with you to do that, can we do something else that you empower them to make choices about things and help themselves recognize?

I mean, as an example, in my daughter when she was nine, was invited to two sleepovers on the weekend. And without any prompting from me, she said, Mom, I can only go to one of those and I'm going to go to the one on Saturday night, because the one on Saturday has all the kids there that will be there Friday.

Amy Vasterling

And then they'll see all my friends. And also there's so many people there that if I have to sneak away and go sleep on the couch because I need to do that, I can do it. I didn't say anything to her. So she already was planning a program for herself that she knew she could manage and she knew two nights is too much for her. Does that make sense?

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

Catherine Wilde

Yes, and honestly, I can see some of myself in some of the things that you are describing.

Amy Vasterling

OK.

Amy Vasterling

I think as moms, it's important to be curious about ourselves and what makes us us. And become more aware of our thoughts. And when you work with moms, is there ever a realization that the mom herself might also be highly sensitive?

Yes, generally that's the case, that either a parent, one of the parents is highly sensitive as well. And I think it's rare to have two children in the family that are highly sensitive.

 But, you know, I know another family that has two children and they're both highly sensitive as well. So absolutely that it is a very common and I actually have a friend that runs a business that's about dealing with being a mom who is an empathic or a highly sensitive person.

Amy Vasterling

Because of that, that we do need to understand ourselves so that we can help our children and we can model to them the courageous behavior of holding boundaries and really advocating for ourselves because we do operate a little bit differently.

And we do when we need downtime, we need it. We can't just keep pushing along. That will result in massive drain. And just like most people, I mean, kind of irritable and so on. But it can also result in a lot of fatigue because it's too much all the time, too much stimulation.

Catherine Wilde

It can be such a relief to understand where your child's coming from so you can better connect and relate with them. But it can also be overwhelming when you find a new piece of information and you just don't know where to start. So if there's a mom listening that's realizing that her child might be highly sensitive. What tips would you share with her? What are some of the first things you'd recommend she do?

Amy Vasterling

Yeah, I think immediately just take a breath, because it is a big deal. I mean, when I realized I was highly sensitive, I had a massive almost a bit of depression. I was sort of realized a lot of my life I was living compensating versus actually living my life because I was trying to be like others so that I didn't look so different. And it's an adjustment to try and figure that out. So just, you know, step back a second.

And then I think the thing is for the parent to to do a little bit of gentle education, like I said, going to Elaine Aaron's website or grabbing her book, there are some other books. Ted Zarf wrote some books about boys in particular and getting a little bit of information and then really identifying, OK, that just sounds like my child so clearly.

Amy Vasterling

And then if the child is old enough, which I would say like nine years old is old enough, saying, hey, I want to read you this list of these attributes and just see what you think you know, and start engaging the child so that they can get some language around it.

But I think it's hard to be labeled no matter what that is. So it would be tricky if you're like, did you know you're highly sensitive? That may be what a parent wants to do because they're like, oh, my Lord, now it all makes sense, you know, but just easing in with the child and helping them understand.

Amy Vasterling

And really the big deal is letting them lead. I think with the other thing I'll say is what's good for the highly sensitive child is good for every child. And the reason is I don't have a better way to say this, Catherine. But the highly sensitive are the most uptight people on earth. And the reason is they're over like they're taking in so much stimuli. So our needs are a little higher.

Our processing time needs a little more space because we're deep processors. So in that way, if it's good for highly sensitive, if you learn about that and parenting, it's going to actually make your other children that might not be highly sensitive easier to parent as well. Because it's a very respectful engagement to working with highly sensitive kids.

Amy Vasterling

And so that's what I would say is just do some research. I think another phenomenal book is Quiet by Susan Cain, and she talks a little bit about being highly sensitive, but she talks about how our culture is primed in America, at least to be very aggressive and assertive, particularly in colleges and in the workplace. And I know that turned me away from some things in my life.

You know, some companies that I worked at, I was like, this is way too much for me. And she really gives permission and direction and historical perspective to why things are the way they are and how we can make that change. I think things like that might be very supportive to a parent to to say, oh, I can think about this differently and shed that light on to my kids and help them really thrive as to who they are.

How to Incorporate Respectful Parenting

Catherine Wilde

Yes. Thank you so much for those resources. And you mentioned having a respectful relationship with your kids and respectful parenting. Can you talk a little bit more about that and how that can not only benefit your highly sensitive child? But all of your children?

Amy Vasterling

 Yeah, what kind of came my way is I mentioned I felt like I was breaking in two, when my kids are little. Trying to really understand and master two parenting methods. One of them is Love and Logic that's out of Colorado.

And to me, it felt like a very within not religious but of a spirit way to raise my kids. And then the other one was a book that's kind of old, but How to Talk So Kids Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. And the examples in there are a bit outmoded, like the but the ideas are still current.

Amy Vasterling

So I use these two concepts and what came out of it is my daughter came home from kindergarten and she said, Mom, I'm overwhelmed.

And I stood in the front hall with about a million things in my head. And there were so many choices I could make. I could have said to her, like, you're overwhelmed with so many directions.

Amy Vasterling

I could have had it. But instead I stood there and I said, What do you think can help? That gave her permission to relax into the actual feeling of overwhelm. And her eyes became like Charlie Brown cartoons like circles on the outside.

And I just was like, man, something's really bothering her. And she's in kindergarten. And it all dawned on me like, this is hard. Something's hard for her right now.

Amy Vasterling

So then she said, I don't know. And then I use one of these techniques. And I said, well, some kids might color at the kitchen table. Some kids might go run around outside. And I chose, of course, one thing she would probably very likely choose.

And I said some kids might go up to their bedroom and read books until with the door open or closed, until they're ready. And then she stood there and she said, I'm going to go read books.

Amy Vasterling

And I said to her, we're making lunch. And so your brother and I are going to eat and you take as long as you need. But if we're finished eating, I will wrap your lunch and you can just grab it out of the refrigerator. We'll come eat or sit with you.

So she had all of this connection and opportunity, right. And she went upstairs and she's young. So 10 minutes later, she came bounding down like her happy, cheerful self and sat at the table and ate her sandwich and was all back to who she is.

Amy Vasterling

So it taught her something and it taught me something about allowing that child's knowing to come through and giving her the space to recognize what she needs instead of saying, well, you're just tired or you're you know, all the things that I was taught when I was a kid or how I was treated, I just move those out of the way and said, what do you think?

Right? So that really showed her great respect. And even it went to she was seven and we're cleaning her room. And I got angry at her and she yelled me to “get out of my room, get out of my room,” finally. And I left and I came back and I said, can I talk to you? And she's like, “I don't know.”

Amy Vasterling

Wow, I like that kid, you know? And then when so then we had this I said to her “what happened there?” And I explained it, that it's something that's a trigger for me. But I explained it more in kids terms. Right?

Highly Sensitive Child - Mom and Daughter

And then I said this might happen again because I don't know that I got the lesson, but I certainly am on top of it. And I certainly am somebody who when I get a lesson like this, I really apply myself to it.

So I'm trying really hard here, you know, and then it didn't happen again until she was 11. But when it happened this year, I blew up and it wasn't about her. I went up and I talked to her. I had to wait a while, excited to do some things first. And I said, what happened there?

Amy Vasterling

And she said, Mom, she didn't say stuff, but she said, Mom, that's your stuff. But she used a different word. That's a little more saucy. And I was like, that's right. That's exactly what was happening. So I offered this free communication and open communication about what's hers and what's not.

And I still do that, even though she's 18, you know. But she as a teenager and through middle school and so on, she was pretty self-reflective even in middle school. She was self-reflective by herself. And something changed massively for her in middle school that we've just found out now, kind of like what happened.

Amy Vasterling

But she's really managed herself very nicely and with very little effort on our part. It's kind of incredible to me. I mean, it's not that it parenting's effortless. But it's like it's pretty easy when the kids are so connected to themselves that they know.

Right? So she knew where to take risks in her life and she knew where to not bother. And I love that about her because she stay aligned. She didn't. Well, I'm going to do this because my friends, she does it the way she does it and she doesn't question it.

Catherine Wilde

Oh, that's beautiful. And I love that you talk about the idea that you are the most powerful person in your world. This speaks to me because we truly are so powerful and your daughter's knowing is beautiful. But sometimes I think that that can often get confused with the idea of control.

Catherine Wilde

And we may feel like our power comes from controlling our surroundings and situations and other people and even our children. But the truth is, our power comes from truly knowing ourselves and knowing that we are the only people that we can control.

Catherine Wilde

And I think your daughter has that connection with herself, that knowing and that authenticity. Would you care to share any thoughts on that?

Amy Vasterling

Well, you know, what comes to mind is that where I live, we are extremely conflict-avoidant people.

And in my childhood, there was so much conflict and we fought hard. And then I married into a partnership where. My husband and his people don't fight like this, just don't do it that way, and so they do it a different way, which is avoid it.

Amy Vasterling

I think she's got something completely different where she could say, like something really mean to me and be angry and get fierce to some degree to release what she needs to release.

But within a very short amount of time, she'd come back and say, hey, that was my stuff and I just dumped that on you. I mean, not that we're like psychologically figured out here, but she's like “Mom, I'm sorry for that.”

Amy Vasterling

And I could do the same. Like, there's this very clear boundary and that I don't want to say nothing's wrong, like you can't do any wrong. But there's just a freedom in being able to, she can express herself.

And so what happens, as a result, is there's very little conflict. Which is ironic, right? Because we're allowing whatever conflict is here, let it come. And because there's that positioning, there's very little conflict. So I don't know, Catherine, that I'm really answering your question, but that's what comes up for me.

Catherine Wilde

No, that's lovely. Yes, it's awareness. Not only awareness of what's going on for you, but those things that are coming up for you. Those things are about you, not the other person. That's such a huge life lesson that I learned later in life. So it's amazing that she already knows that

Amy Vasterling

Well, right. And even from in my childhood, I didn't have a parent who protected me. And there was one that could have from the person who was often asserting or being too harsh on us.

And so instead, I took the position in my world with my kids to say to them, “here's what I'm hearing, and here I hear you.” And “here's what that's about.” When there would be something like, well, we had a little gaslighting happening in our house. So, then I could just say to them, I wasn't protecting them.

Amy Vasterling

I wasn't taking away that relationship or saying or controlling it. Instead, I was standing by it and saying, I hear you. And that's correct. What you're saying, how you're thinking this is what this is called that's happening and this is why it happens.

But staying removed from it, and saying to the child, “how can I support you in this?” “What can I do to help you?” Whether it was from writing letters to read or just so that the kids learned how to communicate because they're all personality types out in this world, too.

Amy Vasterling

I'm not here to shelter them, but to teach them. How to meet different situations in that personality type and know how to navigate it with savvy so their power never leaves them.

Well, I mean, that sounds kind of strong, like Superwoman, but, you know, so that they stay in that aligned state.

Amy Vasterling

Knowing this is who I am, even if mom doesn't like it, this is who I am right now and I'm OK with that. If Mom doesn't like it, she's not going to be angry at me.

She can not like it. It's our kids, really. No, they don't. They always know I have their back. Even if I don't like what they're doing, they literally know they can feel it. So and that's that's what the bond shifts to.

Amy Vasterling

Lacking all in security is there to completely secure is what I see, and they have insecurities, but that's different. They're secure with me. And that is something else I didn't have. I did not have a bond with my parents, particularly one of my parents, which I think for any child is a massive deficit. We deserve that.

Amy Vasterling

And so to me, it was essential to make sure my kids know. That I'm. Connected and they get to literally be who they are, no matter what that takes.

Catherine Wilde

That's the definition of unconditional love, right?

That no matter what I love you and I have your back.

Amy Vasterling

 Right. And it doesn't mean I won't have my own jump to deal with along the way.

Catherine Wilde

Yeah, absolutely. We're human. Right, right.

Amy Vasterling

So, yeah. So they get to see that. But that also teaches the children how to grow up and be adults and have like I remember many times because I do work from home having the kids come in after school and they want to tell me everything and here and there like I wasn't a mom who made cookies because I was busy working. Right. But I was a mom who said, hey, I listen to them after school because I wanted to.

But there were days that I would say I can't. I can't today. Like, I'm in a place where emotionally where I can't do it. So let's try it five p.m. after I'm done with work, you know? And then if I couldn't, then I could just say to them, OK, let's try at seven p.m.

Amy Vasterling

But then at least they were realistic about like, oh, being an adult isn't always a piece of cake, you know, like you always have to be happy or always have to be this, which I think is also important. It's just very real and again, respectful, like, hey, you guys have your home. And I this is where I'm at.

Catherine Wilde

No, they don't need us to be perfect. They need us to be who we are and love and accept ourselves for who we are so that they have permission to do the same. Yeah, I love that.

Amy Vasterling

They need to know how to grow up. And that's to me being able to communicate those things is super essential. I'll tell a little story gathering if it's OK.

Catherine Wilde

Of course,

Amy Vasterling

My son, when he was twelve, we had come home from New York and he wanted to get one of those pop sockets for the back of his phone, and he wanted to have the New York skyline on it. And he was looking online and got it all set up on the computer.

And then I was going to do it under an account I set up under me. And I said to him, oh, you took this image from the Internet and that's copyright infringement. So I'm really uncomfortable with that. I said, if you can find a skyline picture that we took in New York…And he got really frustrated with me, he's like, Mom, you said it was OK.

Like, I must have just been saying, OK, OK, whatever, and not really listening to exactly what he was doing.

Amy Vasterling

And he just finally was like, I, “I can't do this”. “I can't talk to you right now. I can't.” And so we went off. I felt really bad. But then the next day before he was leaving to go to school, he had his backpack on his and by the front door. And I said, well, “what happened there for you last night?” And he put out his hand and he's like, “You disappointed me.” And he just laid it all out so nicely.

And he's like, “Here's what I don't want to see again. Here's what I want to have happen.” AndI started crying and I'm like, I don't think most 28 year olds will hook. 60 year olds know how to say that.

Amy Vasterling

I was just like that to me is exactly what I was gunning for, is like my kids to be able to clearly communicate what they're feeling, what went wrong, what can be done better so that they're fair to themselves and to the other person?

Catherine Wilde

That's a beautiful gift. It takes me time to figure out why I'm upset at times and I have to sit with myself just so I can get clear. That's amazing.

Amy Vasterling

Yeah, and for me, too, I mean, I think that it's you know, their generation has this bonus of having parents who wanted to see great change. I think so.

Catherine Wilde

Yes. I think you're right about that. And you had mentioned before that this generation of kids are more stressed out and anxious than ever before, but there's also the overwhelm of input or stimulus for them, right?

Amy Vasterling

It's stimulus. Yeah. Somebody of highly sensitive is much more aware of their surroundings. They could be empathic and intuitive so they actually can feel what other people are feeling. So I often say, like with a partnership.

I don't know, Catherine, if you found you where you are highly sensitive, that that empathic piece of saying to your spouse, like what you say doesn't match what I feel you're feeling. And that's distressing to me because I can sense at that level.

Amy Vasterling

So, I mean, I know I've said that to my partner, you know, just that that is tricky for me. And I don't think my partner can fully understand that, to be completely honest with you. But I think that it's important for us to still hold that understanding of we are we can get very overwhelmed by life and have a lot of confusing conversations.

So we have to know we have to ask the question, what really is going on for you? And if they don't know? Wait and see “when you're ready, let me know”, because we need to understand. We might not let it alone. Like, we might ruminate or try and process it to figure it out and it could drive us wild. So it is really important even for extroverted people who are highly sensitive.

Self Care for the Highly Sensitive Person

Amy Vasterling

I am an Ambivert. So I am able to be social. I'm able to stand on a stage and speak to a thousand people. But then if I'm traveling, I better stay alone in a room by myself that night, unless it's with my family members.

I cannot stay with most friends. I certainly cannot share a bed with somebody because it's cheap. Like I really need that space to let go and I don't. That's weird, but I, I learned it because I haven't done that. And then the next day I'm like trying to hold so much together and be overly tired and still be on fully and it's really hard without that rest period.

Catherine Wilde

Yeah. And so that's a part of your self care. And self care is so important for everyone and it's something that I work on with my moms. I can imagine it's extremely important for highly sensitive people and I would love to know, besides alone time, what are some other things that you enjoy for your self care?

Amy Vasterling

Yeah, you know, I have kind of a whole bunch of processes as well. But one of them that I like is Kundalini Yoga because it actually moves energy in your body. So with Yin Yoga and Hatha Yoga and so on to me is a little bit more like athletic, but this is really more about connecting to yourself.

And I found it really just dumps me right back into my body. So I feel heavy in my body, like I feel grounded and kind of back with myself. I also really love meditation. I don't think anybody said that ever.

Catherine Wilde

I do. I say that all the time.

Amy Vasterling

Oh you do? OK, yeah. See, that's probably a highly sensitive thing, maybe because it's like, oh my gosh, to get time to be by myself and just be quiet. Are you kidding me? I'm on it, you know? But that is a nice way for me to restore. I feel like I like to sit quietly. So that's you know, I don't know that most people like to do that.

But meditation also. I like Qigong. I especially like the Qigong Meditations once in a while. And that kind of activity, energy throughout your body while you're meditating. So they might there's probably a name for that. I don't know all the different types of meditation, but I do just like to sit quietly with myself, too. And if anybody was trying to learn how to meditate, I really highly recommend the book, The Presence Process by Michael Brown, I think he's in Canada.

His book is profound and I'm not going to get into it. But he had a disease. He couldn't he wasn't a candidate for surgery. And about 80 percent of people take their lives if they have that disease because it's so horrific. And he said when he wasn't a candidate for the surgery, he said there's got to be another way.

Amy Vasterling

And he used this presence process and it taught me how to meditate. And it's just amazing. For me, it was really profound. I do like journaling. And just even, you know, you've probably heard of Julia Cameron with the Artist's Way.

 And doing journal pages for 20 minutes where you just write and you just write things when I tell my clients to do what I like. The chair is green. The floor is brown. I hate this activity Amy has told me to do.

Just be honest, just keep getting words out, too. But what it tends to do is push out our negativity. So I know when I go to write, sometimes I'll do it if I'm getting fearful about writing.

Amy Vasterling

Those are three kind of massive go tos. I also love to ride my bike, so I'll go out and I live in a very wooded, not in a country. I live in a suburban setting, but there's a lot of nature around.

So I go and bike about twenty to twenty-four miles a week if I can do it sometimes more. And just I think getting out, getting out in the woods, that's always that's a really good thing for highly sensitive people too.

Amy Vasterling

Being out in nature is even just under a bunch of trees for a few minutes can breathe. The last thing I'll share is my favorite breath is to use some breath work to just calm yourself, especially if you struggle to sleep at night.

You wake up too high to caffeinated feeling and breathing in through the nose, down to the belly, to the count of four and breathing out through the mouth to the count of eight. So you're sure you're releasing everything.

Amy Vasterling

It's a good detoxify. The reason it's really good for highly sensitive is it really calms that nervous system down and just puts you back into kind of more a present state with yourself. But I'll use that all the time, even sitting in the car or know.

But I use a ton of things to like. I'll chant in the car if I feel inspired, if I don't hold back and sing and chant. And so I think there's so many ways a hot bath with Epsom salts. Right. There are just so many ways.

Catherine Wilde

Oh, I love that. The breath is so powerful because it's always with you. It's with you wherever you go. Thank you for sharing all of those practices.

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Catherine Wilde

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Amy Vasterling

I can't think of anything, Catherine. I think I've given a good picture and hopefully helping parents understand, you know, a little bit more about high sensitivity, that personality.

Catherine Wilde

Will you let us know where we can find you and your work online?

Amy Vasterling

Yeah. So I'm at amyvasterling.com. And you'll see a parent tab. I also do some intuitive work and some public speaking. You'll see that on my website too.

But go over to the parenting tab and there's an ebook that I offer to take a look at that because I just really offer a bunch of simple tips to people of ways to help navigating and parenting your kids. So it's just much easier.

That's amazing. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story and your powerful work with us today. Katherine, thanks so much for having me.

Amy Vasterling

I've had a blast and it's always fun to share and see, hopefully help people. That's always my goal.

Catherine Wilde

Thanks for joining me, Mama, I'm over here smiling from ear to ear and giving you a big virtual hug. I love spending this time with you. You are amazing for showing up and carving out this space to nourish your soul. If you are loving the Soul Care Mom Podcast be sure to subscribe and leave a review.

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