Some individuals feel more. Often labeled as ‘oversensitive,’ these people have high-intensity reactions to things in their environment and process events sincerely. This article explores who Highly Sensitive Person is and how they can improve their lives.
What do you know about the highly sensitive person?
It is a personality trait if you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) or have sensory processing sensitivity. This trait is present in 15-20% of the population , and these individuals tend to perceive the stimuli and information in their environment much more deeply than others . For instance, they will have a more profound experience with art and beauty, feel others’ feelings firmly be more sensitive to pain, caffeine, and stress.
In her book, Aron has given the acronym “DOES” to describe a Highly Sensitive Person . It stands for:
- D- Depth of Processing: Information is processed more profoundly and related to previous experiences more organically.
- O- Overstimulation: since all stimuli are noticed and processed, HSPs often get tired and overwhelmed with sounds, sights, smells, etc.
- E- Emotional Reactivity and Empathy: HSPs react strongly to emotions. They respond more to positive and negative emotions and can easily pick up what others are feeling.
- S- Sensitive to Subtleties: HSPs notice even small changes in the environment and other people.
How can you tell if you’re a highly sensitive person?
Others may have told them that they are “too sensitive,” “too dramatic,” or “oversensitive.” However, one can take self-report tests like the Highly Sensitive Test . Developed by Aron and Aron, this self-report test asks an individual a series of yes-no questions to determine whether they qualify as HSP.
Usually, an HSP has three aspects of their personality. These include high awareness of aesthetics (aesthetic sensitivity), a low sensory threshold for the arousal of their senses, and ease of excitement in response to external and internal stimuli .
What are the benefits of being a highly sensitive person?
In earlier times, being highly sensitive had an evolutionary advantage, for it meant one could perceive and avoid threats, provide care to others, and get resources that others miss . In today’s society as well, being an HSP can have benefits. These include:
- Gift of perception: the trait of sensory processing sensitivity gives these individuals the ability to process large amounts of sensory information. It makes them highly inventive, aware, and imaginative 
- Conscientious and careful: Highly sensitive are better at spotting mistakes, avoiding errors, and working with deep concentration. It makes them conscientious workers .
- High Creativity: HSPs also have high creativity, given their ability to react to the environment more sensitively .
- High Empathy: various studies have found that HSPs have brain mechanisms that wire them to feel the emotions of others quickly and with much more intensity. It makes them highly empathetic  .
- Intuitiveness: Since their awareness increases, they pick more information semi-consciously and unconsciously. This results in HSPs “knowing” something without a rational reason . This ability to perceive more can make them more intuitive.
- Ability to deeply appreciate beauty: HSPs connect with art, nature, and beauty more than non-HSPs.
What are the challenges of being a highly sensitive person?
In the fast-paced modern world where information overload is a reality, being an HSPs can have many challenges. Some common challenges that HSPs face include:
- Overstimulation: What might be moderate levels of stimulation for non-HSPs, may become highly disturbing for HSPs. In environments with more stimuli, HSPs can become confused, concerned, and exhausted, sometimes even shutting down .
- Impacts of Development in Childhood: These individuals are particularly susceptible to the harsh effects of their environment, especially during development . In sensitive children, daily functioning and social, cognitive, and sensorimotor development may be impacted .
- Tendency to Isolate: Some researchers have shown that HSPs tend to be introverted. However, it has also been noted that because they get overwhelmed easily, social withdrawal becomes a coping strategy because they get overwhelmed easily, and thus they tend to isolate .
- Tendency to have poorer mental health: Being an HSP makes one more prone to psychological health complaints and negative affect. HSPs are more likely to have stress, anxiety, and depression . The trait of HSP is related to the quality of neuroticism, which often leads to behaviors like rumination and worry .
- Physical Symptoms and Distress: Since neuroticism is also related to somatic morbidity, physical symptoms, and disease, HSP people are likely to have more physical distress .
What are the ways to cope if you are a highly sensitive person?
Especially in the modern world, which is overloaded with stimuli, HSPs must learn coping strategies. Studies have found maladaptive coping strategies worsen mental health, and HSPs can discover several techniques for better health outcomes.
- Understand and Reframe your tendencies: Often HSPs have been misunderstood and may find their tendencies shameful. The first and most crucial step is to understand one’s tendencies as natural, identify how being HSP has impacted one’s life, and then reframe the shame associated with positive messages.
- Prepare for Stimulation: Once a person has identified they are an HSP and will likely be stimulated, they can prepare. They can locate spaces and tasks that bring calmness or a sense of safety and keep them ready when overstimulated.
- Learn Mindfulness: One can actively practice mindfulness techniques and accept their highly stimulated, which can bring peace. Learning mindfulness and practicing meditation can help an individual manage a demanding environment.
- Schedule Quiet Time: Learning how to balance stimulation and rest. There should be some activity that brings peace and comfort. Many recommend a morning routine  rooted in quiet time, and having good sleep hygiene is recommended.
- Set Boundaries: Often HSPs do not set boundaries with others and may feel guilty for saying no to a plan or getting irritated at someone. They must communicate their boundaries clearly and explain to their loved ones the limits of their capacity.
Being an HSP is challenging and rewarding, leading to a fulfilling life. One can also work with a therapist to identify their tendencies. United We Care platform has a range of therapists who can help HSPs adjust.
A Highly Sensitive Person reacts to the environment with greater awareness, intensity, and depth. It can lead to overstimulation and, in the long term, cause multiple mental and physical health concerns if not understood properly. One can make simple lifestyle changes like having quiet time and learning mindfulness to have a better life as an HSP.
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