Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

6 Tips for Living a Happy life as a HSP

Do you have a very hard time with criticism? (I know that’s a tough one to admit)  Do you feel like negative situations stick with you for a longer time than most?   Or so you have a hard time being in public due to your state of self-consciousness?

If this sounds like you, be assured that you are not “overly sensitive” nor do you have any type of disorder…Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) is a real thing, and HSP’s actually do suffer from Sensory processing sensitivity. (SPS)

According to some researchers, those with high SPS have a “temperamental or personality trait which is present in some individuals and reflects an increased sensitivity of the central nervous system and a deeper cognitive processing of physical, social and emotional stimuli.” (1) They believe it is due to a lower perceptual threshold, therefore must process stimuli more deeply than the average person.

Who Has HSP?

The traits of a highly sensitive person vary according to the individual, but some characteristics are shared because of the way that information is processed. Some of these include:

  • HSP’s are deep thinkers
  • HSP’s are often accused of being overly sensitive by others
  • HSP’s have difficulty letting go of past situations
  • HSP’s find it difficult to watch emotionally charged or violent movies or television
  • Criticism hurts HSP’s on a deep, almost debilitating level
  • HSP’s are sensitive to loud sounds, often making them jumpy
  • HSP’s have a difficult time in brightly lit or noisy rooms
  • HSP’s are highly self-conscious

While many people have one or two of these traits, one who is highly sensitive may possess at least three, if not all of these. And if this sounds like you, do not worry, you are among approximately 12% of the population that is characterized as HSP.

6 Tips for Living Happy as an HSP

Fortunately, this phenomenon has become so well known that professionals, including psychologists and psychiatrists, recognize it and have found ways for those with HSP to live happy lives.

Self-Care is important for those living as an HSP. Since this condition seems to be physical, then taking care of the physical self makes sense. The following are just some tips that can help make your days easier, allowing you to live a happier and calmer life.

  1. Stress reduction or mindfulness techniques are important for everyone, especially in our media-filled and overly busy times. But for an HSP, stress reduction techniques may help more. While you cannot control how your brain responds to stimuli, you can control your everyday reactions. It is possible to use stress-reduction techniques like biofeedback, yoga, or meditation to help reduce symptoms of over-stimulation or help you recover from uncomfortable situations whether from work or a social gathering. When you use these techniques for mindfulness, you may learn to calm your emotions more easily or even help reduce things like blood pressure or overactive thoughts.

  2. Proper sleep is important when you are highly sensitive. Sleep is the time your body and mind rests and resets. Rest is when your body is physically healing itself, such as healing from illness or even the brain “healing” from stressful events as it processes the information for the day. Without proper rest, anyone can become irritable, moody or overly sensitive and this is even more true with an HSP. Sleep helps your brain soothe your emotions and enjoys quiet time so your senses can recharge and be ready for another day. Try for at least seven hours of sleep each night, and a little more if necessary.

  3. A healthy diet is important as it helps keep all of the body’s functions charged and functioning throughout any given day. Consuming healthy foods are important for healthy brain function, hormonal balance and a balanced mood. A healthy diet helps keep internal inflammation at a minimum, which is important since inflammation is linked to negative emotional states like depression and anxiety. (2)

A healthy diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean, organic proteins and plenty of fresh water. Consuming small meals throughout the day keeps blood sugar levels steady, and ensuring each small meal contains a little protein keeps brain function healthy. Also be sure to include foods that contain Omega-3’s and other healthy fats for overall health, especially brain and hormonal balance.

  • Cut out most caffeine and sugar from your diet. This is part of eating a healthy diet, but important enough to be mentioned separately. People who are highly sensitive have enough stimulation through their heightened senses and consuming stimulants may make you feel jumpier and more sensitive. Some HSPs can enjoy limited of either, but most people do not pay attention to how much of either they consume.
    In fact, restaurant foods, fast foods and most processed foods contain extra hidden sugar, so stopping these for a while may be a big step in learning to control your sugar intake. A food journal can help you keep track of your daily intake and bring awareness to over consumption. Adding how you feel, both physically and emotionally throughout the day can help you identify food sensitivities and allergies.
  • Find time to be alone. Some call this time for decompression while others use alone time for mindfulness practices. No matter how you decide to use this time, making sure it becomes part of each day can ensure that you are controlling your life by incorporating self-care. If you live with others, try taking a walk in a local nature area or take a bath with quiet music playing. Another way to be alone when you’re not actually alone, is to put on headphones and listen to meditative music or nature sounds to help soothe your brain and body. Finding creative ways to enjoy your alone time will also give you something to look forward to each day, so you can better enjoy the time that you do spend with others.
  • Keep stimuli to a minimum when at all possible. Keep the lighting in your home, room, or workspace at a lower level. Seek out public spaces including stores or restaurants that offer lower, mood lighting. If your workspace is lit with fluorescent lighting, try a blue light screen on the computer you use to block the adverse effects of the blue light emissions. If you work in a cubicle, ask if you can bring a desk lamp to counter the effects of fluorescent lighting.

Wear noise-cancelling headphones when possible or necessary, to help block out sudden noises that can literally hurt your ears or at least make you jumpy. Adding calming music or binaural beats might help you stay relaxed in spite of work stresses and bright lighting. You cannot control all aspects of your environment, but you can control some. Be mindful and pay attention for ways that you can help reduce or calm external stimuli and your nerves will be thankful you did.

  • (BONUS) Take my Spiritual Ninja course. This course was created for empaths, highly sensitive people, healers, and intutives .  It is over 30 videos, tons of worksheets, a book, and an double album worth of super healing meditative rituals that every HSP needs in their toolbox.  I know, because I am a SHSP (Super highly sensitive person) and it wasn’t fun trying to figure it all out on my own, so I created a program for others to make it easier for them. I can’t recommend it enough. 

Being a highly sensitive person is a gift that can be managed. Along with heightened senses, one who is an HSP also enjoys a heightened awareness and insightfulness, making them great in many work situations. Empathy and conscientiousness make them very caring and compassionate people. If you identify as an HSP, don’t neglect self-care and your life will remain filled with meaning while you handle stress much easier.

References:

1 Boterberg, Sofie; Warreyn, Petra (2016), “Making sense of it all: The impact of sensory processing sensitivity on daily functioning of children”, Personality and Individual Differences, 92: 80–86

2 Maydych V. The Interplay Between Stress, Inflammation, and Emotional Attention: Relevance for Depression. Front Neurosci. 2019;13:384. Published 2019 Apr 24. doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.00384