You may be and not even know it. I certainly didn’t until I came across psychologist Elaine Aron’s studies on this topic. Yet about 20% of the people on this planet are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
People who are HSP tend to be more sensitive physically and emotionally. The sensitivities vary from person to person – some are especially affected by loud noises, others by specific smells or tastes, or emotions of people around them.
To find out if you might be an HSP, you can take a simple test here: Highly Sensitive Test. While this test is not meant to be a diagnosis, it can give you an idea whether this might apply to you. There is a separate test for children as well: Highly Sensitive Child Test. And here is a fun way to look at it: 26 Signs You Are a Highly Sensitive Person
Unfortunately many people see being sensitive as a bad thing. As a child, you may even have been told to “stop being so sensitive.” But while there are certainly challenges as an HSP with overwhelming situations, there is also a gift: it also allows for joy and positive experiences to be felt more deeply and for the details of life to be appreciated more fully.
So what can you do to deal with the stimuli that may seem overwhelming?
1. The first step is accepting and embracing yourself. Your sensitivities are part of who you are and part of your unique qualities, no matter what anybody else says. Look for the gifts being sensitive gives you. And always take care of your needs, be compassionate with yourself and talk to yourself positively.
2. Look at all areas in your life and see if you are in an environment that nourishes you. Is your living space calming and comforting? Are you surrounding yourself with people who are positive, supportive, and uplifting? Are you in a career that is fulfilling and where you are appreciated? Are you getting enough sleep, exercise, and nourishing food?
3. Identify what triggers you the most and how you can avoid those triggers. For example, since I am very sensitive to loud noise, I turn on the washing machine before I go on my walk with my doggie, so I am not irritated by it.
4. Give yourself time for peace and quiet. It’s very important to be in tune with yourself, away from any triggers, and renew yourself. Find what works for you: A walk in nature, meditation, sitting somewhere with a beautiful view, listening to music you love…
Actually, all these practices are great for anybody, but they are especially important if you are sensitive. If we take on too much from our environment and other people, it tends to deplete us. So we need to take very good care of ourselves first and find ways not to take on so much, so we have energy left to be there for others we love and care about. How will you take care of yourself today?