The Gifts + Challenges of the Highly Sensitive Person
Are you highly sensitive?
About 15-20% of people in the world are considered to be. I am. And having an understanding of high sensitivity has really made a big difference in my life.
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
- 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 centers and supermarkets
- Are intuitive and empathetic
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.
Highly Sensitive People have nervous systems that are more sensitive than normal and they process things more deeply. Basically, it means we pick up on more information from the environment than the majority of the population.
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. More on this in another post (stay tuned!).
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.
These challenges and gifts come as a package. It’s important that we learn to embrace this trait in it’s entirety and learn to nourish and nurture ourselves in a way that allows us to thrive in the world. Whether or not our sensitivity was understood and valued in our childhood, we can learn to value and nourish it in ourselves.
One of the most important ways I’ve learnt to nourish myself is through my daily yoga practice, even a short practice can make a big difference.
I wonder sometimes if yogic practices were developed by highly sensitive people, they seem to be the perfect anti-dote to an overstimulated nervous system.
My favourite practices for highly sensitive people are iRest Yoga Nidra, Legs-Up-The-Wall pose and mindful breathing practices where the out breath is longer than the in breath. My teaching team and I will be sharing these practice (and many more) in A Daily Dose of Bliss, a six week course to help you to find your bliss and calm your nervous system, in just 5-10 minutes a day. I do hope you can join us.