Having a highly sensitive personality (HPS) means we're going to feel stress more intensely and react to it differently than others. While a less sensitive person may be able to react with humour to tight deadlines, traffic jams and plumbing problems, the highly sensitive person will find it a challenge to cope with even one of those events. Put all three into one day and it's going to raise hell. Add emotional stress into the mix, difficult relationships for example, and the outcome is often more than can be handled.
Highly sensitive people absorb more surrounding ‘data’ than ‘normal’ people, and that includes both the good and the bad. Constant absorption and processing of data can be exhausting. It's generally an unconscious process that consumes up a lot of energy. And when there's too much ‘data’, such as constant noise, lots of people, and busy schedules, there’s a risk of becoming overwhelmed. It's this state of overwhelm that depletes energy and can lead to ‘drama’ and crisis.
All too often, we're moving so quickly and trying too hard to meet everyone's expectations, we don't even realise we're stressed or that we've overload ourselves. If you've ever felt like you keep on hitting a wall, you're probably stressed. And yet most of us just keep on trying to move through that wall.
What the mind is unable to deal with, however, the body will. Highly sensitive people absorb not only ‘data’, but feelings and energies too. Working or living with angry or negative people, for instance, means that you're absorbing their negative feelings. And even positive experiences, such as going on holiday or celebrating a birthday, can also cause a lot of stress, purely because of the excitement.
So, whether or not you are being aware that you're stressed out, your body knows it because it is constantly collecting and processing sensory information and emotional energy. But such constant activity has its price. Therefore, just as eating too much sugar can eventually bring on diabetes, too much stimulus will make a highly sensitive person reach burn-out point. People with HPS are susceptible not only to colds and flus when things are getting too much, but often also to other unusual physical reactions to stress, such as hives, rashes and other skin conditions, headaches, hair loss, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety disorders, essential tremor and more.
These symptoms are all indicative that something is out of sync. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Your body knows when you're overwhelmed with doing too much, or not getting enough sleep or being in a toxic relationship, even if you don't.
People with HPS need to be aware and take care of themselves and try to avoid getting overwhelmed. Taking on too much, being around too much noise and engaging in depleting relationships will eventually make an HPS person crack. If you have HPS, you should try and avoid negativity as much as you can and try to find a balance. A busy day at work is often unavoidable, but try make time to go for a walk at lunch or listen to relaxing music to get ‘zen’ again. Exercise is an excellent stress reliever, and the key is doing an activity you enjoy, whatever that may be. HSPs are also often highly creative people, and a regular creative outlet will provide a healthy release for all the feelings absorbed. It doesn't have to be ‘masterful’ art. It's the process of expressing yourself that matters.
It's important to recognise that as a highly sensitive person, your needs are unlike other people's. You need more sleep, more relaxing time, more creative time and more time for yourself. Take that time, do what you need to do to feel relaxed and recharged and both your mind, your body and the people around you will be grateful.