A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is an individual who has a heightened sensitivity to their surroundings, processing sensory stimuli more deeply than others. While a HSP is creative and has a deep appreciation for beauty, they are also prone to overwhelm, stress, and mental health issues. Let’s take a look at 17 triggers that could affect a highly sensitive person.
Loud noises and multiple conflicted sounds
A highly sensitive person can easily be overwhelmed by sound. One huge trigger for a HSP is multiple conflicting sounds at one time. The sound of the TV while someone else is playing music and they are trying to watch a video for work on their laptop can send them into a whirlwind of overwhelm and frustration. Loud noises like unexpected alarms can also send off alarms in the mind of an HSP.
Violence and Cruelty
HSPs are often empaths, meaning they feel the emotions of the people around them. When they are around cruelty and violence, it can affect them on such a deep level it may feel to them as if it were them going through the experience. For this reason, many HSPs prefer not to watch the news, violent movies and TV.
Clutter and Mess
With a love for beauty, HSPs tend to keep their home aesthetically appealing and tidy. When clutter disrupts the visual harmony it can be a sensory overload for them. Homes with a lot of knickknacks and things on display can also lead to feelings of chaos and disorganization.
HSPs use a variety of tactics to avoid criticism, including criticizing themselves first, people pleasing, and avoiding sources of criticism. This stems from their fear of criticism because of how deeply they feel the words of others. Harsh words to an HSP can leave them anxious and overthinking.
Bright or harsh lights
With a more sensitive nervous system, naturally, the senses can be overloaded easily. Bright lights can feel actually blinding, harsh lighting can lead to discomfort and anxiety. And for some, physical symptoms such as headaches can occur due to lighting.
Do not walk into Bath and Body Works if you’re an HSP with a sensitivity to smells. “HSPs with low sensory thresholds are easily overwhelmed by unpleasant stimuli, including bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or loud or distracting noises nearby,” says Dr. Linnea Passaler. Much like lighting, smells can manifest physical ailments like headaches and feeling ill.
Crowds can make HSPs want to withdraw and be alone. This can be because of sensory overload or compassion overload from feeling the energies of all the people around them. “HSPs can pick up on the needs of others, which can be a good thing because you want somebody who’s empathetic,” says Dr. Childs. “But the other side of empathy is compassion fatigue. If we’re always picking up on others’ feelings and others’ emotions, what does that do for us? What does that do for the highly sensitive person?”
No one likes to feel rushed or like they are in a time crunch, but to HSPs this is amplified. Rushing or feeling pressured to do something quickly can have them feeling like they are in a pressure cooker about to explode.
Emotions can run high in an argument, for HSPs these emotions can take over their ability to control them. Reacting emotionally may make the argument go longer or burn hotter than needed and also result in overthinking and anxiety after the fact. Learning to deal with conflict is crucial for HSPs.
It can take HSPs longer to adjust to the concept of change and even longer if the change is sudden or unexpected. A rollercoaster of emotions can occur while they try to reconcile what was with what will be.
Empaths feel deep emotions for others, understanding them completely through small tells. It can be lonely for them when it doesn’t seem anyone fully understands them in the same way. HSPs are often told they are “too sensitive” which can make them feel like something is wrong with them instead of accepting their sensitivity is a strength and not a weakness.
Sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart when you turn on the news. For HSPs this can lead to feelings of despair and helplessness. Even events on other continents can send an empath into a depressive episode. It’s wise for them to monitor how much news and negativity they take in.
When you feel deeply for everyone and everything, it is hard to understand injustice. It can leave them feeling frustrated with the way the world is. Luckily, it also sends many of these sensitive souls into action to rectify the injustice and fight for the underdogs.
If you feel like no one sees or understands you it can lead to self-doubt and issues with inadequacy. HSPs can fall into this feeling easily because they notice subtle changes in people’s behaviors and small acts others may be oblivious to.
We already know criticism and conflict aren’t HSP’s strong suit. Disrespect in general can generate an emotional response, whether it be anger or sadness. HSPs can either isolate themselves from those who have wronged them or lash out. When an HSP lashes out in anger, they tend to be able to say just the right thing to hurt their target, which makes them feel worse in the end.
Sensitive to caffeine and medications
Often, HSPs will refrain from drinking caffeine because it makes them jittery. Medications, as well, can have odd and unwanted side effects- Tylenol3 giving someone night terrors, for example. Judith Orloff M.D. says, “I’ve observed that many empaths require a much lower dose than other people to get a positive effect. For instance, a sliver of an antidepressant can work wonders for highly sensitive patients.”
When a highly sensitive person is trying to concentrate, distractions can be more insufferable than they are to less sensitive people. The sound of someone humming while trying to work can send an HSP over the mental edge.
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