Challenges and Life Management Solutions for a Highly Sensitive Person
Do huge crowds overwhelm you? Does bright light make you feel uncomfortable? Do you intensely detect the beauty element even in seemingly trivial things like cutlery? Probably, you are an HSP or High Sensitive Person. However, you need to review deeply and look for other signals as well (as mentioned below) before reaching any conclusion.
· A keen dislike for violence even in movies
· A very keen eye and deep reaction to beauty present in specific artworks, nature, everyday items or beauty of the spirit
· Feeling overpowered by various factors that upset sensory composure like loose/tight clothing, bright colors, or large groups of people
· An intense need to “switch off” even within a few hours of fast-paced hectic workday schedule
Note that there might be other factors/traits that prove an individual to be an HSP (Hyper Sensitive Person) and for a reliable conclusion you can see a psychologist. That said, HSP is only about traits or personalities and not a psychological condition requiring treatment.
A highly sensitive person is the one who is intensely affected by very generic aspects of surrounding ambiance, spaces, and other living beings. So the things that may seem to be of nil or negligible value might leave a significant impact on HSP.
Some studies on HSPs
There has been a strong connection between HSP traits and predictable behaviors, physiological response, brain stimulation patterns, and genes. In simple terms, such people have a larger brain network that calculates the emotional significance of various instances.
Along with a general feeling of the surrounding world, the genes also impact the way one perceives different things and events in terms of positive/negative and eventually weigh the threat/rewards ratio.
By stacking the 2 fMRI brain scans side by side- that of SPS (people with lower sensitivity) and HSP (people with higher sensitivity- the researchers found that how each brain responds to the images of human faces with different emotions.
In this 12-second image viewing session, a higher blood flow was registered in the emotion/awareness areas of the brain in HSP when compared to the LSP. It can throw a good light on the physical brain factors responsible for accelerated response to emotional things in some people (i.e., HSP).
Another notable thing in this experiment is that the above-mentioned brain activity in HSPs further accelerated while viewing the emotionally expressive images of their life partners. To solidify the authenticity of the study it was repeated after 12 months and the results were very similar to the earlier study.
In this study the mirror neuron system was studied that is responsible for stimulating empathy and connected to sensory information processing, action planning, and awareness.
In an fMRI report, it has been found that people with highly sensitive brains are more attuned to their current environment.
It has also been proven that people with highly sensitive brains tend to show a more vivid response to emotional images.
How does being HSP affect one’s life?
Due to their inherent extra sensitivity, the HSPs respond deeply to the factors like crowd, emotions, odors and aromas, chaotic surroundings, and various other internal as well as external stimuli. It changes the way an individual perceives the world. It often makes them feel overstressed due to the collective mental impression of different subtle factors in their surrounding.
What are a few major challenges for Highly Sensitive Persons?
Approximately every 2 out of every 10 people are believed to be HSP but there are strong suggestions that the number could be far higher.
Negative thoughts: Due to hyper-brain processing the HSPs generally struggle with negative thoughts that create anxiety that may match the chronic levels. Besides, the overreaction on subtle issues also makes them feeling constantly stressed without any tangible reason.
food intolerance: food intolerance is very common among HSPs and their reaction to specific foods (especially gluten and lactose) can be intense enough to affect their overall life quality. These sensitivities cause issues like headaches, lethargy, and digestive disorder among others.
Risk of Addictions (in some cases) : Addiction: Due to their extra sensitivity the HSPs often find it almost impossible to overcome the resultant stress on their own. Hence, they may take the support of alcohol, drugs, and other unhealthy substances to fight their psychological It can make things even more complex and accelerate the issues.
Prone to depression: Due to the hypersensitivity towards different generic factors (environment, emotions, beings, etc.), the HSP can unintentionally pick up the negative feelings of other people like depression, sadness, etc., and end up feeling miserable. It makes them prone to depression and other psychological problems.
How to manage a highly sensitive personality?
One of the best ways to live a comparatively normal life as an HSP is to accept yourself fully with all your strengths and weak points. Instead of regarding over-sensitivity as your weakness, you can rather channel it in the ideal direction to convert it into your plus point.
Replace chemical-laden daily use items with organic counterparts
HSP also responds more intensely to the chemicals and every day we consume several chemicals in various ways; right from your bathing soap and deodorant to the mouthwash and toothpaste we use every morning. Take some time and look around different chemical-loaded substances you use in your daily routine. Find the organic and milder alternatives to such substances. For instance, you can use organic soap, mild shampoo, and herbal toothpaste instead of their chemical-laden peers.
Along with managing your hypersensitivity, this healthy change will also have a significant positive impact on your overall well-being. So, instead of treating it as a compromise, you can better treat this as a rewarding change.
Eat food in a responsible manner
There isn’t anything wrong with eating your favorite foods occasionally and in moderate quantity. However, for the regular diet, you can prefer plant based food with a more emphasis on vegetables and fruits that are good for digestion like spinach, kale, celery, and other green leafy vegetables. Also, avoid overeating.
Cook your food well and adopt healthy cooking methods/ingredients. Other digestion-friendly ways like chewing your food well, following a specific meal regime, and taking walk after your meals can also help you to positively manage your food sensitivity. Also, be responsible while eating the foods that trigger digestion issues like gluten and lactose.
If you frequently find yourself struggling with digestive problems then it may help to jot down the foods you eat and their impact on your digestion or activity levels. This way you can identify the patterns suggesting the specific foods that cause indigestion, headache, mood swings, lethargy, etc.
Also, avoid overconsumption of caffeine, alcohol, or other stimulating substances that disturbs your mental composure.
Opt for natural and mild physical exercises
Gym atmosphere, intense time-based workouts, and machine-based exercises might be too stimulating to be tolerated by HSPs. Instead, they can opt for milder and more natural substitutes that can be optimized to their toleration levels. Some examples include simple yoga exercises, TaiChi, and taking walks to the nearest park, seashore, or another natural place. These exercises not only help you to feel calm and composed but also soothe the overstressed nervous system.
Take some time for reflection and self-assessment
Due to higher stress levels and is easily affected by various internal/external factors, HSPs are less likely to find self-assessment opportunities. So make it a routine practice to regain your calm and heal your mental profile through different ways like meditation, praying, and other self-care methods. If mental healing ways seem difficult to you then you can also opt for some physical exercises like walking in a relaxed space to a green, uncrowded place or just breathing deeply with awareness.
Carefully choose your social community and optimize your interactions
Changing the personality and nature of your family members and friends or colleagues isn’t an easy task and in most cases, it may seem almost impossible. However, HSPs’ hyperresponsive to other beings can make it an ordeal to deal with their acquaintances with a negative, overreactive, or loud nature. So, try reducing the time you spend with such people. Also, learn to optimize your interactions with such people to avoid clashes or giving them a reason to express their negative emotions.
Also, avoid the social situations that overstress you like going to the cinema or discotheque with your friends or drinking alcohol due to peer pressure. Draw a line that you won’t cross- no matter what. Be prepared with a strategy to politely say no without hurting others. This simple solution can save you from several complex situations.