Highly Sensitive Person Anxiety: Managing Overwhelm With Grace
Oct 31, 2023
Step into a world where sensitivity is celebrated, not shunned!
Our journey explores the realm of Highly Sensitive Person Anxiety, where feeling deeply is a superpower.
In a society that often values toughness, it’s time to discover how controlling overwhelm with grace becomes a valuable skill.
Fortunately, by practicing many of the coping strategies discussed within this article, I was able to manage my anxiety and reduce it significantly.
Please keep in mind though that the tips inside this article can’t substitute medical or psychiatric treatment.
Please seek professional care if you believe you may have a condition.
That being said, let’s dive deeper into the unique experiences of highly sensitive people and learn how they can conquer anxiety in a world that sometimes feels overwhelming.
Do Highly Sensitive People Have More Anxiety?
Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) often experience more anxiety than others because they’re wired in a way that makes them more responsive to external stimuli. Here’s why:
HSPs have a heightened sensitivity to stimuli like noise, light, or social situations.
This means they can become overwhelmed more easily by the sensory input around them.
HSPs tend to process information more deeply.
They think about things more, which can lead to overthinking and worry.
HSPs often have more intense emotional reactions.
They might feel joy, sadness, or anxiety more intensely than others.
Many HSPs are highly empathetic, which means they can pick up on the emotions of those around them.
This can lead to absorbing others’ stress and adding to their anxiety.
Because they’re easily overwhelmed, HSPs may avoid situations or stimuli that trigger their sensitivity.
This avoidance can limit their experiences and lead to anxiety about missing out.
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels
Society often values assertiveness and extraversion, making introverted or shy HSPs feel like they don’t fit in.
Keep in mind that high sensitivity is prevalent among 15 – 20% of the population to some degree and that includes extraverts!
Extraverts who tend to be naturally wired for social interaction as they need it to get energized, may struggle especially if they’re also highly sensitive.
Because they are drawn to social situations due to their extraversion while at the same time they can get overstimulated by their social activity due to their heightened sensitivity.
This social pressure can lead to anxiety about not meeting societal expectations and social/relational needs even.
HSPs may be more self-critical, always striving for perfection since their high sensitivity can make them hyper aware of themselves, their actions and consequences.
This self-imposed pressure can increase anxiety.
Highly Sensitive Person Anxiety: 15 Ways to Cope
Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) often face unique difficulties in managing anxiety due to their heightened sensitivity to their surroundings as we’ve discussed earlier.
Luckily, there’s a wide range of coping strategies that meet their specific needs, such as the following:
Understand and accept that you’re a highly sensitive person.
Knowing this about yourself can help you make sense of your reactions and emotions.
A helpful way to speed up this process is to educate yourself on high sensitivity by reading Dr. Elaine N. Aron’s enlightening cornerstone book: The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When the World Overwhelms You (1999).
You can buy it on Amazon by clicking here (affiliate link). A must have for every highly sensitive individual!
To stay grounded in the present moment practice mindfulness techniques.
Meditation and breathing exercises can assist you in calming your mind and reduce anxiety.
3. Set Boundaries
Learn to say no when you need to.
Don’t overcommit or overwhelm yourself with too many responsibilities or social activities despite the guilt you may feel.
4. Regular Routine
Establish a consistent daily routine.
Knowing what to expect can create a sense of stability and reduce anxiety.
Don't overdo it though! Use the daily planned activities as benchmarks.
Prioritize self-care activities that recharge you.
This could include hobbies, reading, time in nature, or relaxing baths.
Also limit or renounce your social media time, since all that exposure to others' lives can create fear of missing out (FOMO) or anxiety by constantly comparing yourself to the world.
6. Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise regularly, eat well, sufficiently hydrate your body and get enough sleep.
It is known that during deep sleep you process your emotions of the day, which means you can let sleep do most of the work for your passively!
Physical well-being can significantly impact your emotional state.
Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels
7. Stress Reduction
Practice stress management techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga to calm your nervous system.
8. Seek Support
Share your feelings with trusted friends or a therapist who can provide guidance and support tailored to your needs.
9. Emotional Outlet
Find constructive and creative ways to express your emotions, like journaling or art.
This can be a healthy way to process your feelings.
10. Limit Stimuli
Recognize situations or environments that trigger your sensitivity, and when possible, limit exposure to them or use noise-canceling headphones to create a buffer.
11. Positive Self-Talk
Challenge negative self-talk and perfectionistic tendencies.
Replace self-criticism with self-compassion.
12. Social Connections
Cultivate deep, meaningful relationships with people who understand and appreciate your sensitivity.
Photo by Cottonbro on Pexels
13. Time Management
Break tasks into manageable chunks and set realistic goals to reduce the pressure you put on yourself.
Grounding techniques can help manage anxiety and stay connected to the present moment.
These techniques help you recenter yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your sensitivity.
They redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts and into your immediate physical experience. Here’s one:
Five senses grounding exercise:
- Sight: Find and name five things you can see around you. Pay attention to their colors, shapes, and details.
- Touch: Identify four things you can touch or feel. It could be the texture of your clothing, the warmth of your skin, or the surface of an object nearby.
- Hearing: Listen for three distinct sounds in your environment. It could be the hum of a computer, birds chirping, or the sound of your breath.
- Smell: Notice two different scents around you. It might be the aroma of food, a flower, or the freshness of the air.
- Taste: Finally, focus on something you can taste at the moment. It could be the remaining flavor of your last meal or a sip of water.
If you want to be able to go deeper into the present moment and have an overall sense of groundedness in your daily life then consider buying Eckhart Tolle’s enlightening book: A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose (2006) on Amazon by clicking here.
As you can read in my highly sensitive INFJ male bio series it was this profoundly illuminating book that had the most radical transformative impact on me till this day (15 years later).
It reduced all my mental health problems by about 75%.
I owe my life to this book, so it might be helpful to you too.
However, professional therapy can’t be replaced by a book so I recommend seeing a therapist as well if you think you may have a condition (see my recommendations in the next point).
15. Professional Help
If your anxiety is overwhelming and affecting your daily life, then please consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor specializing in anxiety or sensitivity.
I can recommend Online-Therapy.com as a convenient, effective and affordable online therapy solution.
Watch the video below to learn how Online Therapy can work for treating anxiety.
Click here to get started and receive a 20% discount the first month via my affiliate link!
How Do I Stop Hypersensitive Anxiety?
Try calming methods like deep breathing, mindfulness, and grounding exercises to stop feeling overly anxious because of your sensitivity.
Setting clear rules can help you avoid situations that make you anxious.
Also, taking care of yourself, exercising regularly, and talking to friends or a therapist can make a big difference.
What is the Hardest Thing About Being a Highly Sensitive Person?
The hardest part of being highly sensitive involves feeling like everything around you and your emotions get really strong to the point you’re overwhelmed and unable to process them.
Finding a balance is tricky because the world often thinks being strong and tough is important, which might not match how sensitive people naturally feel.
Is a Highly Sensitive Person a Mental Illness?
No, being highly sensitive isn’t a mental illness. It’s a normal way of being that means you’re very aware of things like sounds, feelings, and the world around you.
It’s just a personality trait and a unique way some people experience life.
Do Highly Sensitive People Cry a Lot?
Highly sensitive people might cry more than others because they strongly feel emotions.
But remember, not all of them cry a lot, and how much someone cries can vary from person to person.
Also crying is a healthy way of processing emotions. If you think you cry too often or that the sad/painful feelings don’t seem to decrease in intensity despite the crying, there might be more at play.
Please consult a professional therapist to investigate (see recommendations above at coping strategy 15. Professional Help).
Do Highly Sensitive People Overthink?
Yes, many highly sensitive people tend to think a lot about things. They dive into thoughts and take their time thinking things through.
Sometimes, this can lead to worrying too much and feeling anxious.
Why Are Highly Sensitive People Prone to Anxiety?
Highly sensitive people typically feel anxious because they take in a lot of information from the world around them.
This can lead to feeling overwhelmed, worrying too much, and anxious more often due to elevated stress levels due to this tendency.
Do Highly Sensitive People Have More Health Issues?
While highly sensitive people might experience more health problems linked to stress, it doesn’t mean they have more health issues overall.
Their sensitivity can make stress affect them more, but it’s not the same as having many health problems.
Why Highly Sensitive People Are Prone to High-Functioning Anxiety?
Highly sensitive people can develop high-functioning anxiety because they hide it. They often try to be perfect and look calm on the outside, even if they’re anxious inside.
This can lead to them dealing with anxiety secretly.
Is Life Harder for a Highly Sensitive Person?
Life can be more challenging for highly sensitive people because they deeply feel things.
But it’s important to know that sensitivity also brings special strengths, like being very understanding and creative.
With self-awareness, the right ways to cope, and support from others, sensitive individuals can handle life’s challenges and positively use their sensitivity.
Remember that coping with anxiety as a highly sensitive person is a journey. It’s okay to seek help and take small steps towards managing your anxiety.
What works best may vary from person to person, so be patient and kind as you explore what strategies work best for you!
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