Have you ever been preparing to leave your home, heading out to a familiar place, but the mere thought of it suddenly sent you into a crippling state of panic? Have you ever turned on the TV and the sheer volume and bright lights made your insides twirl? Have you ever needed to turn down your favorite song in the car because you just could not bear another second of the blasting noise reverberating through your mind? These are the simple signs that you could be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
Being an HSP is not a bad thing and should not be viewed negatively – it is not a diagnosis, and it is not a disease. While there is no hard and fast rule that will work for everyone, the best way to thrive is often looking inward and finding a private space in this big, bright, and loud world.
But before delving into how to thrive as a highly sensitive person, what makes you highly sensitive? Like everything else in the world, there is a criterion that defines what it is to be highly sensitive.
Am I a Highly Sensitive Person?
Being a highly sensitive person doesn’t mean you are emotionally sensitive or weak. Instead, people who are highly sensitive often find overstimulation from the outside world and from their surroundings. It can be found that in many instances, your senses seem to face an onslaught of smells, lights, and sounds; you might have the intense urge to bury your head quite literally in the ground.
You could find yourself emotionally and socially exhausted on many occasions making you want to retreat to a quiet and dark space. You might not work well under pressure, and you avoid confrontation because you try to think of every possible outcome for every possible situation.
As an HSP, it is normal to avoid violent movies, loud or harsh music, and upsetting environments. While people may call you sensitive, shy, or highly emotional, you are by no means weak. Rather, your energy gets easily infiltrated by what you surround yourself with, so you try to maintain your peace by avoiding negativity. If anything, we could all take a page out of the HSP book to avoid the negativity.
Being a highly sensitive person often leads to you processing things too deeply and too intensely, meaning you find yourself mentally and emotionally drained. It could also lead to you being overly sensitive to certain stimuli despite how minute they might be. If you can taste when the milk is about to go sour or if you can smell when food is about to go bad, it could be because you are an HSP.
Highly sensitive people are also found to be greatly empathetic. Having an innate sense and keen aptitude to immediately sense shifts in the environment and feed off others’ emotional states is enough to exhaust anyone. But this also means that you are highly acute to the happenings in your surroundings, which can also be extremely beneficial in the right circumstances.
Coping Mechanisms For A Highly Sensitive Person
If you are an HSP, there are many ways that it can be used to your advantage, leading you to thrive in many environments. The first thing you would need to focus on, before coming up with any form of strategy or mechanism to recover from over-stimulation, is to establish a time for self-care.
Nurturing yourself is a good way of maintaining a certain level of peace despite any situation you might find yourself in. It is a way of filling your own cup before it gets empty. While self-care is integral in ensuring your sanity, you need to find other measures that help in coping with the world around you. Here are some methods that you could use:
Trust your instincts
Being highly sensitive to the slightest shift in the atmosphere around you can be used to shield yourself from negative changes in peoples’ vibrations. If you feel things shift, you can remove yourself from the situation before conflict arises or before it escalates.
The important thing is to trust your instincts. Don’t think that you are over or underreacting. Most times, your intuition is right.
Minimize the overload
There are measures that you can set in place for yourself to minimize sensory overload and overstimulation. If you know that bright lights are your trigger and you need to commute in the middle of the day, carry a pair of sunglasses with you.
If loud noises overwhelm you, get a pair of noise-canceling headphones and always keep them with you.
Create non-negotiable downtime
Whether its avoiding people, uncomfortable situations, or even the world, set time aside for yourself to just be. If you find comfort in reading, devour that book on your to-be-read list. If you need to cuddle up on the sofa enjoying Netflix and Chinese takeout, then do just that.
Whatever you use to recalibrate your mind or realign your chakras, that’s what you need to indulge in. Set the boundaries for your downtime and don’t compromise them for anyone or anything.
Get enough shut-eye
Running low on sleep is not fun for anyone, let alone someone who is an HSP. Getting eight hours of sleep is not only beneficial for physical and mental rest, but it also gives you eight hours of minimal sensory input allowing you to reset and revive whatever might have been lost during a stressful day or stressful interactions.
Ground yourself and reconnect
Whether you go out into nature and make physical contact with mother nature to ground yourself at the source, whether you buy a new crystal, or you visit a reiki master, you need to find something that gives you a way to ground yourself.
While other methods allow you to remedy and treat overstimulation, grounding yourself is a great way of strengthening yourself mentally and spiritually, and training yourself against becoming weakened by any form of overstimulation.
Research surrounding Highly Sensitive People
Research suggests that between 15% and 20% of people are highly sensitive. During the 1990s, psychotherapist Dr Elaine Aron delved deep into the study of HSP and established theories to enable these individuals to thrive in this busy world. She first suggested that individuals need to acknowledge that HSP is real and that it exists.
Next, she suggested reframing the narrative of the past and, in so doing, you create a new understanding of high sensitivity in the present and for the future. This then leads to the next step which will allow this reframed concept to enable you to heal past wounds caused by your high sensitivity. Once you identify the traits within yourself, you can then establish your lifestyle as an HSP and go on to meet with other people just like you.
As with any other person, being an HSP is not a weakness. Instead, you are equipped with innate abilities that others could only dream of. Once you tap into that power, you can thrive in any environment!