I’ve been sensitive all my life. Up until a few years ago, I actually thought something was wrong with me because I was so sensitive! Who knew it wasn’t quite normal to cry for 4 hours after watching the Titanic… After that experience, I discovered I am actually what’s known as an HSP, or a Highly Sensitive Person. Turns out it’s a real thing: 20% of people are HSPs!
So what exactly is a Highly Sensitive Person, other than someone who is obviously sensitive?
7 Signs You’re A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
1. HSP’s are extremely observant and empathetic.
If you’re an HSP, it’s highly likely you are very in tune with the thoughts and feelings of others. Being receptive to surrounding vibes has the ability to change how you feel.
Has anyone ever complained about having a headache, only for your head to start hurting right after? Standard empathy move. As an HSP myself, just being near a sad person, can instantly alter my mood (even if I don’t even know them!)
Fun fact… HSPs are born with more mirror neurons in their nervous system than the average person. Those neurons make it so they can feel the emotions and feelings of others much deeper than normal.
2. Chaos Upsets You
Loud noises, confusion, and other intense stimuli can feel really overwhelming.
Does the sound of car horns in traffic, people shouting in close proximity, or loud music startle or stress you out? These might be some of your triggers if you’re a highly sensitive person.
3. Violence Bothers You
Certain people’s love of guts and gore is not something most HSPs can relate to. Horror movies rank at the bottom of the barrel due to the violence aversion.
If you’re anything like me, the news deeply affects you. Nothing gets you down more than hearing about murders and crime. For me, consuming this type of information can be a recipe for feeling down for the rest of the day.
4. You Dislike Being Under Pressure
As an HSP, there is nothing that boils my blood more than being rushed. I dislike being late, but I hate being rushed. When I’ve got lots on my plate and someone comes along to hurry the process, it causes me to become flustered which I think makes me take even longer.
5. Social Events are Exhausting
If you’re an HSP, you might feel exhausted after having people over or after going out in crowds. Because HSPs can “feel” the emotions of others so deeply, they can become drained very quickly if they’re around lots of people for too long. It can feel like too much, especially when you have your own emotions to deal with, too.
6. You Like Keeping To Yourself
About 70% of HSPs are introverts. When I was growing up, my family always referred to me as shy. I never really had much to say in large social gatherings and usually preferred to keep to myself. I was the same way at school. It wasn’t uncommon for people to think I was stuck up before getting to actually know me.
7. Strong Smells Have An Impact
Highly sensitive people often have a heightened sense of smell. Sound like you? If that’s the case, particular scents may cause you to become uneasy or even ill. On the other hand, smells you like can make you feel better.
Smelling peppermint, eucalyptus and citrus scents can help perk you up. Lavender and scents like fresh laundry might help relax you.
How to Manage The Extra Sensitivity
Sometimes doing nothing is the most productive thing you can do. Meditation is an excellent way to indulge in self-care at the end of a stressful day. Meditation, or simply relaxing to take a bit of quiet me-time helps ground you back to the present.
Plenty of meditations can be found on YouTube, even ones specifically designed for Highly Sensitive People. Meditation and relaxation in general is a great way to recharge and recoup if you can’t avoid your triggers or other stressful times.
Focus On One Thing At A Time
When there’s too much going on that you can’t avoid, it can really suck up your capacity to think or do anything. When this happens, pause. Focus on one thing at a time. All you have is this one moment right now. Use it wisely.
Get to Know Your Triggers
Consider writing down what makes you feel stressed. Track those things in a journal or your phone. After a while, you’ll be able to recognize the people, places, and situations that trigger your hypersensitivity. Knowing this will help you establish boundaries for what you can and can’t handle.
For example, if you come to realize that going to a loud club and consuming alcohol will overstimulate you, opt for a quiet dinner with friends instead.
Steer Clear of Energy Vampires
Limit the time you spend with overly negative people and those that make you feel bad when you’re around them. Negativity is contagious and your energy is precious. Protect it. You’ll not only feel better about yourself but perhaps life in general.
This will allow you to have more energy to put towards people and situations that make you feel good.
If any of the signs above resonate with you, perhaps you or someone you know is an HSP, too. Knowing yourself and others helps you make happier decisions and helps you thrive in relationships with others.