Are you highly sensitive? That doesn’t mean you cry easily, or get offended at the drop of a hat.
Psychologist Elaine Aron coined the term to describe those who are easily overwhelmed by external stimuli, among other traits.
Finding out you’re a highly sensitive person can help you understand yourself better. It will give you guidance on effective self care and help your loved ones understand you, too.
7 signs you’re a highly sensitive person
1. You’re easily overstimulated.
Bright lights and strong smells overwhelm you. Loud noises like sirens make you jump, cover your ears, or want to run and hide.
2. Time constraints bother you.
When you have a lot to do in a short amount of time you feel pressured. You may not perform as well on a timed test. Too many things on your to do list stress you out.
3. You avoid watching violent movies and television shows.
Even viewing the news can be difficult for a highly sensitive type. Violence and horror affect you deeply and may even make you feel physically sick.
4. You have a rich and complex inner life.
Your brain processes information and reflects on it deeply. For this reason, you experience more subtleties than the average person. You notice things that others miss.
You absorb the feelings and emotions of those around you. And notice small changes in facial expressions and body language.
HSPs tend to be seekers who want answers to the big questions in life. Small talk turns you off and you crave deeper interactions with others.
5. You need to withdraw.
Due to overstimulation and high perceptiveness, you need to get away sometimes. You need peace and solitude after a busy day to soothe your frazzled nerves and reset.
6. You arrange your life to avoid change or conflict.
Because novelty is stimulating, you go out of your way to avoid it. Even positive change causes you as much stress as joy. You need more time to process any type of shift.
You’ll go out of your way to avoid conflict because it feels so uncomfortable to you.
7. When you were a child, parents or teachers called you sensitive or shy.
Highly sensitive people are often mislabeled as shy, though the two can coexist.
HSPs tend to be misunderstood as anxious or neurotic because of their deep processing and need to withdraw.
Are you highly sensitive?
I compiled these seven characteristics from Dr. Aron’s quiz to determine if you’re highly sensitive, which you can take here.
If you’ve realized you’re an HSP, this may be a huge relief to you. Finally, you understand why you’ve felt so unique or misunderstood all these years.
So, what are some things you can do to nurture this awesome trait of yours? How can you care for yourself rather than pushing through as you’ve done in the past?
Self care for HSPs
Avoid or minimize those things that rattle you. Stop consuming violent media. Try some noise canceling headphones to block out loud sounds.
Accept that you will need time alone and make sure you take it. Let people know you get overwhelmed easily.
Reduce your to-do list. Feeling like you’re running behind is intolerable to an HSP. Consider having three things on your daily task list. Or a number that feels right to you.
Try eliminating clutter in your environment. If you pick up on things more readily than most, it makes sense that clutter would overwhelm you.
Make sure you have an outlet for your creativity and appreciation of beauty. Nurture your need for human connection. Find others who want to go beyond small talk to form a deeper bond.
Be your own advocate
In cultures that don’t value high sensitivity, people with the trait experience lower self-esteem. So, if you’ve ever felt wrong about the way you process the world, it’s time to tell yourself a different story.
Perhaps you were told not to be so sensitive. Or chastised for taking too long to make a decision.
Now that you know it’s your nature you can be your own advocate. Silence those voices and embrace all the amazing qualities of this extraordinary trait.
It’s a gift to experience things on such a deep level. To feel more empathetic toward others, to be moved by art and beauty.
To have a desire for human connection. These are the things that make life rich and meaningful.