Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) — Definition, Signs, and Strengths

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Sarvika Aggarwal

10 February 2024

9 Mins

Have you ever come across people who are highly empathetic, meticulous, look out for others, and are always compassionate, no matter what? Well, these people are called highly sensitive people (HSP).

Such people are way too good for the world and often get hurt because of their sweet and sensitive nature. People who tend to have this personality seek mental health guidance to help themselves set boundaries, navigate relationships, and build strength within themselves.

However, let’s see the signs of a highly sensitive person and how they usually lead their lives.

What Is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

Highly sensitive people (HSP), aka hypersensitive people, are those who have a high tendency to be sensitive to the things and people around them. They show signs of high sensitivity person traits from their childhood itself and are affected by the intricacies of the external world.

Moreover, their high sensitivity symptoms can be seen when they get overwhelmed easily, have difficulty moving out, avoid action or violent movies, and are highly sensitive to the lights and sounds of the external world.

How Common Are Highly Sensitive People?

It has been said that around 15-20% people are highly sensitive. Although this also depends on other factors like gender, cultural factors, personality traits, child development, and the genetics of the person, for example: people who have a good sense of cultural sensitivity and value might be more likely to be HSPs.

It is a gift to be a sensitive soul, but if it is hindering your overall lifestyle, talk to a professional expert for free.

Understanding High Sensitivity

Individuals with high sensitivity are easily influenced by their surroundings, such as people's energy, voices, sounds, or even lights. Such people have a deep sense of care, empathy, and love for their surroundings and the people around them.

Although it can be hard for them to lead a life where it is difficult for them to set boundaries or not get themselves hurt in the process of helping others, they are also known for their creativity and good intuitive power.

1. Am I a highly sensitive person?

To determine whether you are a highly sensitive person or not, sit with yourself and consider if you are someone who is greatly affected by criticism, has high empathy and self-awareness, lives a hermit lifestyle, and is extremely sensitive to others. If your answer is yes, then you might be a HSP.

2. Why is my child so sensitive?

Children who cry often or easily might be emotional beings who get triggered easily or have high sensory inputs due to genetic, parenting, and environmental factors. Moreover, if a child hasn’t been given secure love and care, they might be more likely to be an HSP.

3. How is high sensitivity measured?

Aron and her husband, Art Aron, developed the test to measure high sensitivity in the 1990s. It is known as the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS) and is available on their website.

4. Is high sensitivity a disorder?

High sensitivity is not a disorder but just a personality trait that some people have. However, a person who is HSP does have a high tendency to develop mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem as they have problems setting boundaries, asking for help, or relying on other people.

5. What causes a person to be highly sensitive?

There can be various reasons for why a person is highly sensitive, but it is a mixture of genetic disposition, cultural background, early childhood experiences, and the environment they were raised in.

Living as a High Sensitivity Person

Living as a highly sensitive person has its pros and cons. While they are highly intuitive, empathetic, compassionate, and loving towards others, they also have a lot of challenges, like navigating relationships, asking for help, relying on others, and showing strength in difficult situations. With the right people and in the right environment, these people can surely strive greatly.

1. Is there a treatment for high sensitivity?

There is no specific treatment for high sensitivity, as it is not a mental health disorder but simply a personality trait. However, you can seek professional help to manage your symptoms and learn effective strategies to handle yourself in difficult situations. It is important to remember that having high sensitivity is not bad and is just a trait that can be modified according to your needs and preferences.

2. How can I cope with stress as a highly sensitive person?

Managing stress for an HSP can be quite difficult, so it is important to learn effective coping strategies beforehand and avoid relying on unhealthy coping strategies like alcohol, smoking, junk food, or not sleeping on time. Rather, talk to a loved one or seek professional help to get guidance and support on how to navigate stressful times effectively.

3. What’s the best way to deal with someone else who is highly sensitive?

If you know someone who is highly sensitive, it is important to accept them as they are and help them learn how to manage their extreme emotions in a healthy manner. Encourage them to practice self-care by taking breaks and avoiding people who are unhealthy for them.

4. What is it like to live with high sensitivity?

Living with a high sensitivity person is quite normal; it is just that they are more inclined towards getting affected by lights, sounds, unhealthy people, and emotional cues. So it is important that you communicate your needs to them while meeting them halfway. It is true that they are meticulous beings and highly intuitive, but with effective communication and help, it is fun to be around people who are highly expressive, loving, and caring towards others.

Introversion and Sensory Processing Disorder

While it is assumed that highly sensitive people are more likely to be introverts, it depends on a lot of factors. A lot of people can be HSPs and extroverts as well. Moreover, people who are hypersensitive have a chance of getting sensory processing disorder if their sensitivity is to the point where it is hindering their overall lifestyle.

1. Is high sensitivity the same as introversion?

High sensitivity is not the same as introversion. A lot of people who are HSPs are more likely to be introverts, but that is not a given, as it also depends on the person’s upbringing, cultural factors, early childhood experiences, and social factors.

2. Can you be an extroverted HSP?

Yes, most definitely. People presume that if you are an HSP, you will be an introvert but that is not true. There are people who are highly sensitive but are extroverts, as being hypersensitive is simply a part of personality and doesn’t define a person’s whole personality.

3. Are HSPs the same as empaths?

People who are HSPs are more or less empaths but it is not necessarily the case that empaths will be HSPs. So yes, on some level, HSPs are the same as empaths, as they do carry a lot of empathy and love for other people.

4. What’s the difference between sensory processing sensitivity and sensory processing disorder?

Sensory processing disorder is a mental health condition where the body is not able to respond to sensory input. Whereas, sensory processing sensitivity is something that an HSP experiences when they are strongly affected by lights, sounds, and external stimuli.

Get to the bottom of your hypersensitive traits and work on them with a professional expert for free.

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

If you wish to understand what the signs of a highly sensitive person are, here are some to determine an HSP:

  • Highly intuitive
  • Get a feeling when people are not feeling well
  • Gets affected by strong sensory inputs (lights, smell, loud noise)
  • Avoid violent movies or shows
  • Highly creative
  • Motivated by art and music
  • Avoid crowds
  • Have a tendency to please others
  • Sensitive to pain
  • Difficulty in managing stressful situations

While there are more highly sensitive person symptoms, these are some of the signs that can help you determine an HSP.

Tips for Living as an HSP

Being a sensitive soul has its pros and cons, so it is important that an HSP knows how to not overwhelm themselves and take care of themselves as needed. So what can an HSP do to lead a life of relaxation and peace? Let’s have a look.

1. Surround yourself with positive people

It is quite important to surround yourself with positive people when you are an HSP, as you have a tendency to get affected by people’s energy. So in order to keep yourself positive and calm, it is absolutely necessary that you surround yourself with real and genuine people.

2. Take time off

It is important that you take time off and give yourself a break from people and daily life hassles. Living as an HSP, it is easy to be swayed by people and life struggles, which can lead to burnout and serious mental health issues. So remember to take time off and spend time with yourself, shutting off the outer world without any guilt.

3. Practice self-care

It is important that you practice self-care and invest in hobbies that truly make you happy and fulfilled from the inside. Simply doing things like painting, drawing, dancing, journaling, or going out on a date with yourself is something that can rejuvenate you.

4. Learn to set boundaries

As an HSP, it can be difficult to set boundaries and say no to people. However, it is important for you to understand that it is not your responsibility to cater to everyone’s needs and fill your cup before you go on filling others. If you know you cannot handle more stress or hold a steady conversation, it is better to tell the person rather than take on their load.

5. Know that you can be selfish

Everyone in this world has the right to be selfish and they all are too. So as an HSP, you should know that being selfish is completely alright and, at times, extremely important to protect yourself and your mental peace.

6. Be objective

As an HSP, it can be difficult to be objective with your decisions and the way you navigate your relationships. You might be more inclined towards being emotional and sensitive. However, it is important that you learn to be objective and make some of your decisions rationally rather than emotionally.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your highly sensitive person traits are hindering your overall lifestyle and aren’t letting you be in your relaxed aura, it is best to seek professional help. Although you can even seek therapy if you wish to learn how to manage your sensitive traits and if something is coming in between your way of life, go for a highly sensitive person therapist.

Talking to a professional expert will help you understand why you are so sensitive and how you can manage the symptoms in a social setting. A therapist will help you be more empathetic towards yourself, help you learn to draw boundaries, and help you think a bit more about yourself than others.

Talk to a professional expert about your hypersensitivity and understand it better for free.

How Can Now&Me Help?

If you wish to talk to like-minded people who know what it is like to be an HSP, join the Now&Me community and find your tribe there. You can share your personal experiences and struggles and talk about them anonymously with other people. You might not get your answer right away, but you might get motivated by listening to other people’s stories.

Moreover, Now&Me also has a panel of qualified people where you can pick the choice of your therapist and get your first chat for free to get highly sensitive person treatment. And if you like it, you can book your consecutive sessions or talk to the therapist starting at Rs 30/- only.

Now&Me also provides personalized content recommendations like guides, blogs, and self-help books to help you in your healing journey and make way for a better life. So download the app and start your wellness journey now!

Sources

Now&Me articles are written by experienced mental health contributors and are purely based on scientific research and evidence-based practices, which are thoroughly reviewed by experts, including therapists and psychologists with various specialties, to ensure accuracy and alignment with current industry standards.

However, it is important to note that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individual circumstances vary, and it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice and guidance.

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