Coping As A Highly Sensitive Person: Strategies For Thriving In A Loud World

Nov 1, 2023

Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is a unique trait with strengths and challenges.

If you’re one of the many who identify as highly sensitive, you know that navigating the world can sometimes feel overwhelming.

As a highly sensitive INFJ male I can attest to how challenging managing that sensitivity is!

However, you should recognize that being an HSP is not a flaw but a distinctive aspect of your personality and when you are able to manage it, you can actually harness its potency! 

In this article, I’ll share practical tips to help you cope with your heightened sensitivity and lead a fulfilling and balanced life.

What is a Highly Sensitive Person?

A “Highly Sensitive Person” or HSP feels things more deeply than others.

This concept was discovered and coined by clinical research psychologist Elaine N. Aron in the 1990s.

HSPs have a nervous system that is more finely attuned to sensory stimuli. They tend to pick up more subtle information, and process it more deeply.

When dealing with others, HSPs can be extra sensitive in their bodies and emotions.

For example, things that most people hardly notice might feel too intense for HSPs. This can make them anxious or stressed.

They take in and think about everything around them. They’re also very good at picking up on how others feel, which can affect them strongly.

It means you think deeply about things, understand relationships well, and notice small details and hidden patterns.

This trait is called “sensory processing sensitivity,” or SPS. It means HSPs process information very thoroughly, which can sometimes be overwhelming.

It’s important to know that everyone has some level of sensitivity, but being highly sensitive is just one part of your innate personality traits.

It’s not a mental health problem. In fact its prevalence is about 15-20% among the general population.

Instead, the construct “Highly Sensitive Person” is a way to describe how your nervous system processes information and how you experience the world around you.

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How is High Sensitivity Measured?

Dr. Elaine N. Aron devised the idea of Highly Sensitive People and made a questionnaire to help decide if someone might be one.

So for a large part it’s based on self-report.

There’s also a quiz for parents to see if their child might be highly sensitive.

These questions aim to figure out how different things affect the person.

The questions for adults can help understand how they react to noise, violence, and people.

For example, some questions ask if they’re sensitive to things like caffeine, if they get easily scared, or if they feel strongly about art and music.

The quiz for children is for parents to use. It helps them see how their child acts in different situations, similar to the questions for adults.

It also looks at how the child takes in information and processes it, like if they have a big vocabulary or a good sense of humor.

You might be highly sensitive if you answer more than half of the questions in a certain way.

And if you’re unsure, a mental health expert like a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist can help you figure it out.

Man sitting in therapy session with female psychologist

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Coping as a Highly Sensitive Person: Helpful Tips

Living as a highly sensitive person (HSP) has unique challenges. Here’s a list of practical tips to help you navigate life more comfortably:

1. Self-Acceptance

Understand and accept that being highly sensitive is a natural trait, not a flaw. Embrace your sensitivity as a part of your journey.

2. Healthy Boundaries

Set clear boundaries to protect your emotional well-being. It’s okay to say no when you need to and to prioritize self-care.

3. Stress Management

Develop stress-reduction techniques that work for you, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga.

4. Regular Rest

Prioritize getting enough sleep and downtime to recharge your energy.

5. Healthy Lifestyle

Maintain a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stay hydrated. Physical health can significantly impact emotional well-being.

6. Positive Relationships

Surround yourself with supportive and understanding people who appreciate your sensitivity.

7. Emotional Expression

Find healthy outlets for your emotions, like journaling, creative activities, or talking to a trusted friend or therapist.

8. Mindfulness

Practice mindfulness to stay grounded and present in the moment. It can help you manage overwhelming feelings.

9. Limit Stimuli

When possible, create an environment that minimizes excessive noise, bright lights, or other overwhelming stimuli.

10. Plan and Prepare

Think ahead and plan for situations that might be challenging for you. Preparation can reduce anxiety.

11. Seek Support

Don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional specializing in high sensitivity if you’re struggling.

12. Celebrate Your Strengths

Recognize the positive aspects of being highly sensitive, such as greater empathy and a deep appreciation for art and beauty.

Remember, being highly sensitive is a unique trait that can be a source of strength and insight when managed effectively.

Related Questions

Can You Overcome Being a Highly Sensitive Person?

No, you can’t stop being a highly sensitive person because it’s a part of you.

However, you can learn to manage it better and make it positive.

Instead of trying to change yourself, focus on understanding and accepting that you’re an HSP.

Remember that being highly sensitive isn’t bad, and you can learn ways to handle it, like relaxation techniques and talking to people who get it.

You can have a good life as an HSP with support and the right strategies.

How Do You Survive Being a Highly Sensitive Person?

Surviving as a highly sensitive person means taking care of yourself.

Start by understanding that it’s okay to be sensitive. Just set clear rules to protect yourself from things that overwhelm you.

Do things like meditation, deep breathing, or spending time in calm places to stay calm.

Surround yourself with people who understand and support you.

Express your feelings well, like writing or talking to a friend or therapist.

How Do I Control My Strong Emotions as a Highly Sensitive Person?

To control your emotions, learn to manage them, not hide them.

Try mindfulness to stay in the moment and not get carried away by your feelings.

Breathing exercises can calm strong emotions. Find good ways to express your feelings, like writing or talking to someone you trust.

Understand your emotions without judging them. You don’t have to control them completely; just manage them in a healthy way.

If you need more help, talk to a professional.

What is the Hardest Thing About Being a Highly Sensitive Person?

The toughest part of being highly sensitive is often feeling overwhelmed by things around you and strong feelings.

What’s easy for others might be hard for you. This can make you very tired and stressed if you don’t deal with it well.

But remember, heightened sensitivity also has good sides, like being very caring and loving art and beauty.

It’s about finding a balance and accepting your sensitive side to have a happy life.

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As a psychologist with a Master's degree in Clinical & Health Psychology, and as an INFJ male, highly sensitive human being, the author aims to blend the objective, subjective, mind, body and spirit for a holistic view on true well-being
for INFJs, Introverts, Highly Sensitive People and Empaths!



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