JENN GRANNEMAN: “12 Things a Highly Sensitive Person Needs”

highly sensitive person needs

If you’re a highly sensitive person like me, you know little things can be too much. Busy environments, violent images in movies, or weekends with little downtime can stress you out. Because you’re so in tune with your environment and other people, life can be pretty exhausting, which makes you withdraw — and non-sensitives don’t understand.

But there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re not alone. High sensitivity is actually fairly common, found in 15 to 20 percent of the population, according to Dr. Elaine N. Aron, author of the book, The Highly Sensitive Person. Both introverts and extroverts can be sensitive, as well as people of all personality types, although high sensitivity is probably more common among INFPs and INFJs.


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Sadly, because many people don’t understand what high sensitivity is, you may have been told to “toughen up” or “just get over it.” You may have always felt different from other people, but you didn’t have a name for what you were.

High sensitivity can make life challenging but not impossible. When I’m in a routine and doing plenty of self-care, I forget about my sensitivity. But a recent trip reminded me of just how frazzled my senses can get. I was rushing from one activity to the next, hanging out in loud, crowded bars and restaurants, and meeting many new people. To top it all off, I wasn’t getting enough sleep or the kind of exercise that makes me feel good, like cardio and yoga. After five days of “vacation,” I was completely fried.

How can we as highly sensitive people cope with our trait? Here are 12 things we need:

1. Time to decompress

Noisy, busy environments — like a crowded mall during the holidays, a concert, or a big party — can wreak havoc on a sensitive person’s highly reactive nervous system. Likewise, packed schedules and high-pressure situations, like a job interview or the first day in a new school, are overstimulating. If you know you’ll be in situation that will frazzle you, plan some time to decompress in a quiet space afterward. It’s best if you can be alone.

2. Meaningful relationships

We get bored or restless in relationships that lack meaningful interaction, according to Aron. This doesn’t mean we’re prone to relationship hopping, rather, we actually work harder to inspire intimacy and interesting conversation. It also means we’re selective about the people we let into our lives to begin with.

Interestingly, many sensitive people are great to be in a relationship with because they not only tune in to what’s good for them but also to what’s good for others. They pay close attention to what their significant other wants. Aron calls this characteristic “mate sensitivity,” which means the ability to rapidly figure out what pleases their partner and act based on that intel. This behavior goes for friends, family members, and co-workers as well.

Basically, it makes us happy to make others happy.

3. People who support us

Sensitive people may cry or become emotional a lot. “Sensitive people can’t help but express what they’re feeling,” Aron told the Huffington Post. “They show their anger, they show their happiness. Appreciating that is really important.”

4. A gentle, healthy way of managing conflict

No matter who you are, fighting with a loved one is miserable. But sensitive people tend to feel extra anxious when conflict arises — and an internal battle takes place. We feel torn between speaking up for what we believe is right and sitting back so we don’t provoke an angry reaction from the other person. Often we subjugate our own needs because we’d rather “go along to get along” than fight.

On the other hand, sensitive people can make great conflict resolvers, because we tend to see the other person’s perspective. We have high levels of empathy and can easily put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

5. Time to get things done

Sensitive people like a slower pace of life. We like pondering all our options before making a decision and regularly reflecting on our experiences. We hate busy schedules and rushing from one event to the next. One of the hardest parts of my day during the work week is getting moving in the morning and leaving my apartment on time. Saturday mornings, when I don’t have to work, are for going at my own pace. It’s calming and restorative to know I don’t have to be dressed and ready to go anywhere anytime soon.

6. Plenty of sleep

Lack of sleep (less than 7 hours a night, for most people) makes the average person irritable and less productive, but lack of sleep for the sensitive person can make life almost unbearable. Getting enough sleep soothes my ramped-up senses and helps me process my thoughts and emotions. How much sleep I get can literally make or break my next day. Without proper sleep, every little stressor seems ten times worse.

7. Healthy meals spaced regularly throughout the day

When I don’t eat regularly, I get hangry. This is because, according to Aron, extreme hunger can mess up a sensitive person’s mood or concentration. To fend off feelings of crankiness and discombobulation, maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day by eating regular healthy meals and snacks.

8. Caffeine-free options

Sensitive people (surprise, surprise) are sensitive to caffeine. I drink one cup of coffee in the morning to get me going, but I don’t have any caffeine past noon. Even a mug of green tea later in the day would leave me tossing and turning at night. Plus, having too much caffeine leaves me feeling jittery and wound up in an uncomfortable way.

If you’re sensitive, consider limiting your coffee, soda, and tea intake. Watch out for sneaky sources of caffeine, like chocolate. Remember, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine. For example, Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has a walloping 31 milligrams of caffeine, almost as much as a can of Coke!

9. A space of our own

If you live with others, make sure you have a quiet place you can retreat to when you need to get away from noise and people. Turn on your favorite music to drown out any unpleasant external noise.

10. Low lighting

If possible, turn off the overhead lights in your home or office and substitute a lamp.

11. Time to adjust to change

Transitions aren’t easy for anybody. (Hey! Who moved my cheese?) But for sensitive people, transitions can be really rough. Even positive changes, like starting a new relationship or moving into a dream home, can be overstimulating and require an extra long period of adjustment. For example, I recently moved into a wonderful new apartment in a city I enjoy, but I literally felt off-kilter for months until I got used to my new situation.

12. Beauty and nature

Like most sensitive people, I’m deeply affected by my surroundings, especially the way they look. Cluttered, chaotic, or just plain ugly environments bother me. I feel calm spending time in nature, my city’s favorite neighborhoods, or my simply decorated apartment (especially when it’s actually clean and tidy!).

When it comes down to it, the key is to embrace your sensitivity rather than work against it. Sensitive people make incredible leaders, partners, and friends. We have high levels of empathy and we’re usually creative and perceptive. Maybe the world could use a little more of what we have.

 

 

 

 

http://introvertdear.com/

 

LAUREN TOBER: “Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?”

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Embracing our sensitivity can make it a strength instead of a weakness

Up to 20% of the population are considered to be ‘highly sensitive.’ High sensitivity isn’t a psychological weakness, but is an innate trait…the brains of highly sensitive people are actually wired differently to others

Psychologist Elaine N Aron coined the phrase the Highly Sensitive Person, and has been researching sensitivity since 1991. She is a pioneer in the study of sensitivity and has written widely about it.

People across the globe are relating to her identification of this innate trait of sensitivity and her work has opened up hope for those who felt they didn’t fit in to the world today, to feel valuable, unique and to accept themselves and their sensitivity. Elaine N Aron’s work is revolutionary and visionary. It has created widespread acceptance and understanding of the positive and life-affirming traits of the Highly Sensitive Person, who feels things more deeply than others and are more sensitive to the environment.

Alt text hereSome of us are born with highly sensitive brains

So what is a Highly Sensitive Person?

Highly Sensitive People have nervous systems that are more sensitive than others and they process things more deeply. As a result, they pick up on more information from the environment than the majority of the population.

Highly sensitive people:

  • Notice and are affected by smells, noises and bright lights (highly sensitive people often don’t like the TV on in the background, or being around people with strong perfume)
  • Pick up easily on the emotions of others
  • Feel overwhelmed by busy days and long to do lists
  • Prefer a meaningful one-on-one talk to speaking with large groups or making small talk
  • Are strongly affected by caffeine, alcohol, drugs, medication and herbs
  • Enjoy their own company, in fact they need down time by themselves to recover from the busy-ness of the world
  • Tend to burn out and develop chronic conditions like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia
  • Have a rich and deep inner life
  • Were often described as ‘sensitive’ as a child
  • Appreciate creativity, art and music
  • Get overwhelmed and overstimulated in shopping centres and supermarkets
  • Are intuitive and empathetic
Alt text hereHighly sensitive people often feel overwhelmed, but are also generally more creative

High Sensitivity is not a Weakness

It’s important to know that high sensitivity isn’t a diagnosis or an illness. It’s a trait, meaning that we’re born with it. It’s simply a way of describing the workings of the nervous system.

I personally identify as a Highly Sensitive Person and have discovered chatting to many of my colleagues, that many other therapists do too.

You see, high sensitivity is not a weakness, it’s a strength that makes us intuitive and empathic, and therefore it’s not surprising that it would be common in therapists. Highly sensitive people are in the minority, enough so that we’re often misunderstood and dismissed as overly sensitive, but we’re a large minority, and we have a lot to offer the world.

Alt text hereHighly sensitive people often more aware of the subtleties around them

Highly sensitive people process the world more deeply and are more aware of subtleties.  And as a result we’re also more easily overwhelmed, as we get overstimulated when there’s a lot going on. Our nervous systems are easily over loaded. We need time to ourselves to unwind and unravel from all this stimulation.

The challenge that comes with this is that we can get exhausted, overwhelmed and burnt out more quickly than ‘normal’. So fatigue related illness, anxiety, depression and low self esteem and are not uncommon.

The up-side of being a HSP is that we are often deeply creative, spiritual, empathic and insightful.  We make links between things in the world that other people may miss, and hence we are often thought-leaders and creative-folk.

People who embrace and nourish their sensitivity are likely to be happy, healthy and doing wonderful things in the world. People who see their sensitivity as a burden and ignore it, are more likely to end up depressed and wondering why they can’t keep up with rest of the world.

Alt text hereLoving life by embracing your sensitivity

How to work with the gifts and challenges of being an HSP

Dr Elaine N Aron says it’s important to recognise if we’re highly sensitive, so we can make full use of its advantages and compensate for its other effects. Elaine suggests:

  • reviewing our past, and taking note of times when we felt we failed, and reinterpreting the failure in light of being a highly sensitive person in a world that does not cater well for this trait (perhaps we were overstimulated at the time)
  • stop living like a non-sensitive person – you may need more down time and more meaningful work
  • work on your self esteem (our culture largely does not always value high sensitivity, so our self esteem can take a battering at times)
  • help the important people in your life understand your needs as a highly sensitive person – such as your need for down time and for gentler communication (and that these needs are just who you are, they’re beyond your control)

In addition, I believe that it’s also important to have ways to calm the nervous system when it’s over-stimulated. Getting out in nature, curling up in bed with a good book and doing yoga practices like iRest Yoga Nidra and mindful breathing can be a great help.

 

 

 

 

http://www.upliftconnect.com