Highly sensitive people need unique ways to balance their mental health in daily life. Use these ideas to work towards effective emotional well-being and personal growth to embrace this superpower.
How To Maintain Emotional Well-Being As A Highly Sensitive Person
Everyone has their own level of sensitivity to the world. We all get triggered by things and have to process them to work through our emotions and perspectives. But for some people, sensory processing can be overwhelming such that situations that some may feel are no big deal are a really big deal to them.
Speaking as a highly sensitive person myself, let me tell you that if this is you, you are not alone. Since I was very small, family members have made clear to me that I was quirky in some odd ways – there was just never a label.
To this day, horror movie music or visuals will haunt my brain for weeks if I’m exposed to them – even just a snapshot. I cannot wear socks with seams by the toes, I can’t stand the sensation of wooden popsicle sticks on my tongue, and I am easily shaken by loud noises (popping balloons, fireworks, a door slamming hard, etc.).
It is not worth listing all of my quirks because they aren’t the whole of who I am, but if you are like me and easily experience other people’s emotions along with some other key things, you may be a highly sensitive person.
What Is A Sensitive Person?
A sensitive person is one who has a personality trait or traits that lead them to become easily overwhelmed by external stimuli. Whether it is specific sounds or smells, sensitive people may be bothered by certain things that the average person would not.
What Is A Highly Sensitive Person?
A highly sensitive person (HSP) is one who shares the traits of a sensitive person, but on a deeper level in that it is further determinable by brain scans.
Highly sensitive people have a sensitive nervous system which makes them respond more starkly and deeply to external stimulation. This would include loud noises, strong smells, bright lights, rough clothing textures, various food textures, and the emotions of others.
How To Cope As A Highly Sensitive Person
When you have a high sensitivity to most external stimuli, it can be challenging to exist in the world. Most social situations aren’t quiet events and any busy day can set you off. But there are many ways to manage your unique needs, you just have to know what to do.
1. Embrace Your Sensitivity
Your sensitivity is a strength, not a weakness – and it is extremely important to acknowledge that. Because of your heightened sensitivity, you are aware of others’ feelings well before they would or could tell you.
You are more empathetic and dialed in than most humans and often, people are drawn to you because they can feel it emanating from you. Embrace your unique perspective and appreciate the depth of emotions you experience.
2. Learn And Understand Your Triggers
Identify the situations, environments, and interactions that tend to overwhelm or drain your energy. When you deal with sensory processing sensitivity, triggers that you manage may be very different from the negative stimuli that someone else experiences. For example, scary or violent movies may greatly upset you, but not be an HSP trait that someone else has.
By understanding your personal triggers, you can proactively manage and minimize their impact on your emotional well-being. Pay attention to patterns and take note of what specific factors contribute to your emotional sensitivity.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries
Learning to set boundaries is crucial for maintaining your mental health. Whether you need significant alone time after listening to other’s feelings and problems or you choose to have only a few personal relationships because it is what you can manage, the most important thing is that you listen to yourself and put your own needs first.
Understand your limits and communicate them effectively with others. Practice saying no when necessary, and know that you can be a good friend and loved one even when you need a little bit of extra time to process things.
4. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is essential for everyone, but it is particularly significant for highly sensitive people. Because of the frequent sensory overload and intense feelings, sensitive folks need to provide their systems with meaningful moments of calm.
Learn to engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Whether this includes meditation, journaling, spending time in the fresh air, or indulging in creative outlets, find what brings you joy and make it a priority in your daily routine.
Also, make sure that you are getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep will make you more brittle and less able to deal with your own emotions.
5. Create The World You Need
As sensitive individuals, HSPs have a unique way of processing the world. It is up to the individual to figure out what they need in their natural surroundings and what might be too much.
Work to gain an understanding of what creates too much noise within your system. If the texture of denim bothers you, wear a softer fabric. If you enjoy tv shows, but can only digest them on a small screen, make friends with your cell phone or computer. Listen to yourself and go at your own pace.
6. Manage Overstimulation
Highly sensitive individuals can reach sensory overload much more quickly than the average adult, so learning to recognize the signs of overstimulation is a great first step to managing it. This will vary by the person, but some people may begin to feel anxiety, agitation and irritability, loss of focus, and a general turning in on oneself.
When you find yourself reaching this place – or before that happens, if possible – excuse yourself politely. Find a quiet place without any negative energy and practice some deep breathing exercises or listen to the music of your choice on noise-canceling headphones. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, but it is a gift that will help.
7. Cultivate Resilience
Building resilience is key to navigating the ups and downs of life as a highly sensitive person. You may always be someone who takes on the feelings of others or works in a loud environment, so learning how to bounce back is vital.
Surround yourself with supportive people and things (think soft blankets or coloring in an adult coloring book) that calm and nurture you. Develop a growth mindset so that you don’t get stuck and rather take on these daily moments as challenges. A little exposure here and there is a great way to learn new coping mechanisms.
8. Develop A Support Network
Connect with like-minded individuals who share similar experiences. Whether you join support groups or online communities that share your thoughts and feelings or find a fellow HSP who completely gets you, knowing that you have people in your corner is a wonderful thing.
Having a support system can provide validation, encouragement, and a sense of belonging, so whether these become close relationships or you are just part of the group, knowing that you have places to turn can be invaluable for keeping you centered.
9. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness practices can greatly benefit highly sensitive people. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and experiencing all of your current surroundings, thoughts, and feelings as they are right now. It is also being in the present with someone else such that you get out of your own head.
When you can be present, you are more able to let go of any negative experiences you may have had recently and only experience right where you are. It is an excellent practice that will help lower anxiety and increase positivity.
10. Express Your Emotions
Keeping your emotions bottled up is not a healthy practice for anyone. Find some healthy outlets to release any pent-up anxiety, fear, depression, or anger so that you can keep moving along with your life.
Whether it is engaging in activities like writing, painting, or dancing for some emotional expression, chatting over coffee with a friend, or meeting with a professional therapist, it is vital to get any strong negative emotions out of your body. If they linger, they will affect you and the way you interact with everything.
11. Celebrate Your Strengths
Whether you were a highly sensitive child who people called over-emotional or someone who has always managed sensory information such that no one ever noticed the differences, you are a whole, beautiful, fascinating, and incredible human. There is so much that makes up who you are and every part of you deserves to be celebrated.
Focus on the positive aspects of your sensitivity and use them to create a meaningful impact in your life and the lives of others. Pat yourself on the back for your persistence and drive to continue being yourself.
Chances are good that you are deeply empathetic, have incredible intuition, and keen observation skills. You see things in others from miles away and people may be drawn to you. These are wonderful things! And while they do come with some personal complications, you need to see just how special you are – because you are.
Remember, your sensitivity is a superpower that allows you to experience life deeply and authentically. Embrace it, nurture it, and watch yourself blossom!