Why Sensitive Souls Need Rituals. ~ Kathryn Nulf


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There was a good year where I listened to the same album every night as I drifted off to sleep.

I didn’t get tired of it. I loved knowing what to expect. I knew the order of the songs, the way things started and the way the music progressed.

I loved having something familiar there for me night after night before sleep. It was my way of being there for myself again and again.

The lyrics had meaning, sure. I felt their melodies more than the words though, deep to my core.

I didn’t know what a highly sensitive person (HSP) meant at the time. I just knew that I went through life feeling things very intensely. I loved to know what to expect. I loved familiarity (as I was in a strange place, away at college).

And listening to the same album every night was my normal. It felt perfectly natural to me.

It was when I shared it with others that I got a “Huh?” kind of response. I don’t know why, but I thought they would be able to relate, as if they were doing it, too. It just felt so natural to me that I assumed it did for everyone else.

For HSPs, having daily rituals in their lives can help them feel at one with their world, instead of just being overwhelmed by it most of the time.

Having that album play each night before sleep was my start to embracing rituals in my life.

Rituals can have a profound impact on us HSP’s: they calm and ground us, soothe the spirit, slow us down, remind us to live in the present moment, nourish our soul and remind us that we are responsible for our own well-being.

Think about what we love to do: What soothes our soul? What comforts us and brings us to life at the same time?

Rituals have a calming effect on our nervous system because it gives us something to look forward to, that is at once both freeing and grounding. It brings us out of our heads (anyone else live there almost 24/7?) and back into our bodies. It gives us a break from the overthinking mind and lets us rest right here, right now.

Doing rituals on a regular basis (daily if possible) is ideal because it lets us know calm is on the calendar. If we haven’t realized this yet, self-care is of utmost important to HSPs.

So what is an example of a ritual?

We don’t need to listen to the same music every night to be adding in rituals into your life, promise! Spend some time thinking about what grounds us. Because HSPs can live in their heads so much of the time, we need to ask ourselves what brings us back to earth. What grounds us?

Some examples include:

1. Drinking a hot cup of tea each morning while reading a book

2. Walking your dog through your favorite park

3. Listening to music you love while taking a dance break (my personal favorite!)

4. Tuning into yourself through meditation

5.  Stretching your body and breathing

6. Writing in a journal

7. Asking yourself what you are grateful for

Perhaps it’s even a combination of these examples, or something completely different?

If we’re having a hard time figuring out what ritual might work for us, think about what grounds us and brings more balance into our life.

Jot some ideas down and get a good list going that we can refer back to. Try something out for a few days or a week and see how we feel.

At first, it may seem like a lot to ask.

It’s important to remember that HSPs tend to not like structure, unless it is of their own creation. Adding in a daily ritual is doing just that—taking power back into our own hands and creating balance in our life in the process, one ritual at a time.

Bringing in a daily ritual is a way for HSPs to work with their unique trait, not against it.

We need more downtime than the average person, and setting time aside each day for a meaningful ritual is our time to reconnect with ourself.

What comes to mind when we think of a daily ritual? Do we already do something every day that we would consider a ritual?

Leave a comment below and let’s share ideas and support each other.



10 Ways to Find Out if You Are Too Sensitive.


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Kathryn Nulf

As a Certified Health Coach + Yoga Teacher, Kathryn Nulf’s passion is to help highly sensitive people (HSPs) stop stress eating and discover a whole new relationship with food and body, without shame and overwhelm. Read her latest musings on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.



140 Responses to “Why Sensitive Souls Need Rituals. ~ Kathryn Nulf”

  1. Colleen/Onelove says:

    I relate to this article very much. Reading through the 'comments', I can see how some people can misinterpret the use of 'words', language to describe events, which society (especially in the 'west') too often use in the negative, or interpret to mean something it doesn't. Language is a huge barrier in the ever evolving Spiritual Journey or Path (whatever that is for the Individual) as by me just saying 'spiritual' can be misconstrued as a 'certain way' of living. Absolutely not. It is whatever one chooses it to mean. We have be taught a language w/ limits, w/ so many meanings left wide open to 'interpretation' of the individual. Which then leads to one having to 'explain' themselves, when their word 'should' be very clear. The English language, especially, has been deliberately set up to be this way. Open for Interpretation and meaning, bringing confusion at times when clarity is the 'objective'. With all this said, I love and respect the exchange of 'words' as a means of understanding one another, respecting where 'one is coming from' and with the opportunity to grow in awareness of one's own self knowledge. Getting 'stuck' on the singularity of words and their meanings defined by society is soon to 'go out the window' which allows for a whole New set of meaning and dialogue to exist. As for the article, I appreciate the entire 'meaning' behind it. As a HSP, I have come to realize I must set up, almost in a very strict and outlined way, schedule, routine, ritual…All of the Above…in order to live the life I am meant to live. To reach the goals I dream fro myself, otherwise I will put it off until tomorrow. Not because I am lazy, but because I am now more AWARE of my personal needs and understand Who I TRULY AM. I am a procrastinator, for so many reasons I do not have the time or space to list them all. When it comes down to it, I agree wholeheartedly in the importance of making 'commitments' to myself (however I choose to describe them are irrelevant) and following through w/ them. By doing so, I CREATE the life I Truly DESIRE…no one else is left to create it for me!

  2. Cjay says:

    Damn! That was great. I didn't even know 'we' had a name – HSP… I feel a little more normal now, ha. Thank you!

    For the past month I've started something called "Morning Pages". It has completely changed things for me. Basically it's 3 hand written pages of "stream of consciousness" first thing every morning – clears (empties) my head and I am able to tackle the day far better. It's based on 12 week program "the Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. It's been amazing!

    • knulf says:

      I love morning pages, Cjay! I used to do it but have gotten out of it. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for sharing. 🙂


    • Carrie says:

      I have gotten out of the habit too but I remember that it helped a lot with my frequent morning worries/issues. Sometimes it feels like we are “taking out the trash” and allowing for joy to replace it. Feels like when we sleep we deal subconsciously with certain issues, but the ones that remain in the morning are our responsibility to solve. Freewriting is a great way!

  3. Sarahsomewhere says:

    This is brilliant, thank you. I have always been sensitive. I drank it away for much of my life, but now that I am sober I am becoming aware again how highly sensitive I am. The world does overwhelm me on a regular basis. It was great to read this now as I have begun to invite ritual into my life. Morning meditation, walks on the beach and yoga, help me to stay grounded. This was a wonderful article and will help many people, thank you!

    • knulf says:

      Thanks for sharing, Sarah! My sensitivity has come front and center since I've gotten sober. It's crazy. I can so relate to what you said. Your beach walks and yoga time sound lovely and grounding. Enjoy!


  4. Kailyn says:

    Reciting Om with deep breaths every morning.

  5. fenghe 鳳翮 says:


  6. Brooke says:

    This article is seriously about to make me cry. I cannot believe I'm not alone in this stuff I consider so weird and strange about myself. Thank you so much. It feels so goo know others out there are with me and understand. Thank you.

  7. Alison says:

    Thank you for this insight. It is so good to know your not the only one , that others feel and think the same way. For me it's cleaning my house , putting things away . Bringing my home and myself back into balance. People think I am a neat freak , I am not the I just need that calm , quiet space and some order .

  8. Kimi says:

    EVERYONE is an HSP. Let rituals guide us.

  9. bjait says:

    Every night I put on my fav new song and dance as if noone is watching. til my heart beats heavy.

  10. These Little Lights says:

    I resisted rituals for so long I believed that they would restrict my life and create boredom. I am finding the complete opposite to be true. The more rituals I embrace the more free I become

  11. bodykarmabella says:

    I had to stop and check in with myself about 7 times whilst reading this to remind myself I wasn't the one who actually wrote it…ha! It resonated THAT powerfully! I kept copying and pasting excerpts to use as the tagline when I share it on FB and couldn't even choose one! The whole piece is SO amazing! I am totally an HSP and this may have been the most helpful and therapeutic part for me, "Bringing in a daily ritual is a way for HSPs to work with their unique trait, not against it." This was like a breath of fresh air to be reminded how very beautiful this trait can be, and how we can use our attention and mindfulness to hone the trait so as for it to flourish and promote nothing but beneficial energy. Beautiful piece. Sharing far and wide. XX

  12. Lindsey says:

    "Think about what we love to do: What soothes our soul? What comforts us and brings us to life at the same time?" What a great formula for finding our own unique rituals. Love this article, Kathryn. Thanks for bringing it to life.

  13. Kshema says:

    i think sensitive people are very top-heavy in their minds. We think too much and tilt the balance of our whole being which is the 3-way balance of deepmind-mind-body. Getting mind-heavy we tend to become unbalanced, spiraling deeper or higher through our mind and losing the balance between our deepmind & body.

    But when the 3 way deepmind-mind-body are balanced, we become an antenna for the universe's energies through us and a perfect channel for living our destiny. Any imbalance distorts the antenna. Some non-sensitive people are unbalanced on the body level because they're obsessed by the gross physical. Some people tend to be too focused on the metaphysical, intangible deep mind and neglect both their body and mind because of it.

    So yes, sensitive people need something to reduce the presence of mind and restore the presence/connection of body and deepmind every day. Doing something routine is one way to make this connection. But more than just routine ritual, with all due respect to the author, according to me it has to be something in which mind is totally banished. This gives us the MENTAL REST we need and restores deepmind-body. Mind gets totally banished when we do something self-expressive using our body that has no purpose. Walking. Playing an instrument with our own hands with no motive (i.e. no compensation). Exercising our body to the point of exhaustion. Singing without motive, not for anyone else but for ourselves. Praying without asking for anything, just expressing gratitude. Of course yoga and pranayama are natural such activities. I've found martial arts to be amazingly effective. But everyone has to find their own unique way. During that time, you have to be so immersed in what you're doing that you think of nothing else. In other words, you have to use your body without motive or purpose or audience (any motive or audience again brings mind back into the fray). And you have to do this activity every day.

    The activity banishes mind for some time and restores the presence/connection of body-deep mind, which re-calibrates the 3-way balance between deepmind-mind-body. As you do the activity every day, the balanced state becomes your natural state.

    With the 3 in balance, you are the clear antenna, you are happy within yourself, you attract happiness which is uniquely calibrated to you, and you begin to see clearly all the barriers that you have erected against your own happiness.

    • Tara says:

      that was a lovely response, thank you. especially the part with ‘no compensation’. sometimes I feel guilty for it, or i stress myself up because I think I should be able to do things that will result into something so I can progress in life….odd…and so ego….but i mean well…i just want to be able to enjoy my experiences and inspire others to enjoy and love and see how beautiful things are and can be. we need to.connect. and however distanced it might seem to.be communicating through screens and displays I feel it helps tons and tons for me.
      thank you.

  14. ashiechristina says:

    For the morning, I try to start every day off with a heart – opening back bend.
    At night, I allow at least 30 minutes to curl up with a book. 🙂

  15. Hannah says:

    At the start of each week, I participate in my own “Mantra Monday”. During that morning’s meditation, I try to ask myself what would truly serve me at the time being, and whatever comes up I try not to judge or sway the thought. Sometimes it will just be one word, for example, today it was “wisdom”. Using that word, I came up with the mantra, “I will live in a place of wisdom”.Then throughout the whole week, whenever my mind is wandering somewhere negative or unnecessary, I turn to my weekly words and let them reverberate in my mind.

  16. Rosie says:

    I have a “grateful jar”. It’s a big urn with a lid, and every night before bed I write down on little pieces of paper two things I’m grateful for in my life, and one thing I want to manifest more of in my life. It’s a lovely little ritual!

  17. sara says:

    I really appreciated this article! For a long time I thought I was just crazy but I’m not! Every morning normally listen to the same song before work on repeat that makes me calmn for the day and I LOVE to be in nature! It makes me feel connected in a way I can’t explain.

  18. Lyndsay says:

    I love this. I read the first paragraph and said this to myself "It's SO hard for me to accept things that are constant in my life". And then I got to this line, "It’s important to remember that HSPs tend to not like structure, unless it is of their own creation." Perfection. Thank you for this article. Music is everything to me and I actually tend to listen to the same album every morning on the way to work (with my cup of tea I make as well). I find that sketching a little at night helps me clear everything as well!

    I'm trying yoga (AM and PM) and so far it's okay. I feel like once I actually know the poses by heart I can be a little more free and not follow the video start to finish.

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  19. jae says:

    Thank you. I know that I will read this over and over again. Somehow this made it “all ok.”

  20. Something I look forward to doing each night (I work 2nd shift) is my nightly beauty routine— washing my face and applying various products, giving myself a hand and foot massage and applying the appropriate creams, reading a bit before going to bed. All these things seem to calm me and let my mind “rest!” I am amazed that doing these simple little things each night before bed can make such a difference in my stress level. Great article!!!! Wonderful to know I am not alone, I really look forward to my little nightly ritual. Again, it gives me much needed rest.

  21. Jane says:

    I liked the article. My whole life is a tapestry of ritual. Daily, weekly, every full moon, in response to duress or special events. Some of my rituals are practical, like hydrating with water plus lotioning skin, especially feet & exposed surfaces, while listening to gospel…
    I also have some very elaborate rituals, for Home Blessing, that group lighting altar aromapots around the home, reciting a blessing, & then doing a standing yoga series. I also have an outdoor garden labyrinth I walk/dance, with particular affirmations songs done at key locations, plus a center series expressing devotion, & for receiving guidance…
    There are more.
    But to summarize, I use ritual to reach deep. To magnify prayer. To align my chakras. (A lot of what I do on the labyrinth are actions informed by studying chakras. Its a 7-Circuit Classical labyrinth… I see 7 as a hint for its appication… Labyrinth Alchemy. That’s what I call my ritual work.)
    I like the compliment. My mind is always working, but it feels like my heart is easily broken, & I am stymied inbetween…

  22. Rhonda says:

    Thank you for identifying this need ! I have been trying to forgive myself and figure out why my thoughts and feelings seem so different from other peoples'. Now I know and realize I'm not alone!

  23. arna says:

    I relate to this, I really do, however, this applies to every human being in existence, in a way. Why rituals are soothing and relaxing for our soul, why they let our minds rest is because they bring us to the present moment. and by needing rituals, we discard the fact that we can calm our souls and relax and feel all of the above mentioned, just by being in the present moment naturally, by meditating, focusing on breathing, and other spiritual exercises, in which we won’t have the need for rituals.

  24. Great article! After leaving an out of balance relationship I was listening to the same tunes every night and thought I was being obsessive compulsive, I didn't realize this was grounding me. Thank you so much for sharing!

  25. Kimberly says:

    Recently discovered I am an Empath, most or all of you may be as well, until a few weeks ago I had never heard that word! 28 out of the 30 traits of an Empath were me, blew my mind! I thought I was an alien that was on the wrong planet, at the wrong time & belonged in an institution! I now know I’m not the only one & having a word so closely define me, like HSP, this is the first I’ve heard of it, gives me a shimmer of hope and a little peace! Of course I immediately googled “how do I stop being an empath!” Lol, cause it’s difficult, confusing & exhausting, to say the least! ♡

  26. Stef says:

    Last year, studying far away from home & family, I got depression and feel very affected by anything that happened around me. Some few months ago, I was trying to reconnect with myself and started to write a journal and have a meditation/prayer time. I'm feeling way better now and reading this today… Everything makes sense. Thank for this amazing article, Kathryn.

  27. leigh says:

    Kimberly, I too am an empath and I’m in a helping profession so it is crucial that I commit to self-care work. I found that my grounding ritual is diffusing essential oils at night when I’m sleeping. I apply essential oils during the day as well. Not only am I reaping the health benefits of plant-based oils but emotionally and mentally, I am allowing myself to come undone in an effort to restore and revitalize my soul.

  28. Joanne says:

    Wish it hadn't taken me almost 60 years to understand my nature, but better late than never. One of the best things I ever did for myself was to start classes at a Body & Brain (Dahn yoga) center and learn how to manage my thoughts, emotions and overall energy condition. Being able to bring the brainwaves down and neutralize the hyper vigilance has made a huge difference in my quality of life. My rituals are mainly ones of mindfulness in everything from breathing and eating to walking and transacting with others. I have learned to stop equating who I am with my body, my thoughts and my emotions. These are things I "have", but that do not define the choices I make. Now that I'm more grounded and energetically stable, being HSP has become a gift I can use to benefit myself as well as others. Highly recommend this training as well as the advanced workshops. The benefits are cumulative and exponential.

  29. Kimberly says:

    I use coloring to help soothe me. There are great adult coloring books out there. Mandelas flowers, fairies, ect! I have some great pencils!
    Grounds and soothes me when the world gets to be too much!

  30. surtoutcoquine says:

    My morning ritual includes putting eyeliner and mascara. It became full of sense for me when my first grandma has passed away: it became a moment when I acknowledge I am alive and I want to honor the colors of life on my skin… I want to look like I am awake and alive! It is also a way of preparing myself to confront other's look on me, because I gain confidence and find myself prettier with eyeliner and mascara on.

  31. gabby says:

    my ritual is my shower…
    i never really realized it until I stopped and thought about it, but it’s the exact same order, the exact same way…

    i live in a house with too many people and I share a room/bed, so it’s those precious 15 mins that give me a chance to regroup, think and set intentions.

  32. N J Read says:

    Spot on! As a writer I can put on a tune and listen to it endlessly on repeat, sometimes all day if I am alone. I have never met anyone who could tolerate this, but for me it is like a soothing meditation. I am fascinated with the theory of sound, literally, physically affecting our cellular structure and perhaps this repetitiive behaviour is connected to that too.

    Thank you for the article. Please PLEASE tell us what the album is that you mention, you’ve got me curious 🙂

  33. jeri1navya2 says:

    Thank you very much as I am like you. I do listen most nights to one of 2 meditation cd's to go to sleep.
    I also love a favorite type of tea in the morning and also get up at a certain time to take my best friend and dog out for a walk while it is very quiet out. I also write a lot on my spiritual facebook page. Writing helps me a lot with Processing things.

  34. Mary says:

    I just discovered that I am a HSP this year I am 59 and new I was different all my life went through counseling and every thing and never got any kind of answers why I feel like I do even now when i try to explain to people how intensely I feel things they just look at me with this blank look on their face. so glad I found this page hope i can find more connections that I can go to and feel like people understand me.

  35. Greg Booth says:

    I love having elephant journal to read, it seems everytime I am interested in some articles they bring me here. I have first hand knowledge with bi-polar disorder, I don’t function well when I get out of my routine. The rituals you speak of are my routine and I should add dancing for sure. I think you’ll understand when I say that you’ve been so much help to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  36. Carrie Kaufman says:

    I’m a bit confused as I always thought highly sensitive people spent too much time in thei heart – that is they feel things more intensely than the average person. How might rituals help that?


    Carrie (mom of an hsp)

  37. Lillian says:

    Amazing. I thought I was just strange. I listened to the same CD for 7 years before it gave out. It had no words, just instrumental. I loved it because of the same reasons, I knew what was coming next and didn't have to wait to hear it. My husband thought I was nuts, but didn't mind. So glad to be identified.

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