Beth Ellen Nash’s session at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention was called Thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person. She was speaking to those of us that have sensitive nervous systems, find it difficult to filter out stimuli, and are easily overwhelmed by our emotions and environment. She was not speaking about sensory disorder. Her website is http://hsperson.com
According to Elaine Aron, 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive. It is an in-born trait and is completely normal. It can be apart of the makeup of both introverted and extroverted people. Extroverts and thrill seekers have an especially difficult time being highly sensitive, because they need social time with groups, or they need that physical stimuli; however, they are also overwhelmed by it – finding the right balance is hard.
Depth of Processing – One trait of highly sensitive people is having a deeper processing:
- They prefer to process their experiences more deeply
- They think about things more than others
- Often come up with unusual, creative ideas
- Unusually conscientious – deeply aware of failure
- Prefers to decide slowly, mulling things over
- Decisions are often right
- thinks about long-term goals
- Reflects about why something did or didn’t work
Highly Sensitive People are Overstimulated Easily:
- noticing, feeling, thinking…about everything!
- more easily overwhelmed
- more easily stressed by noise, chaotic situations, deadlines
- seeks quiet spots
- prefers to work alone, or at home
- benefits from a quieter working environment & more flexible deadline
- hesitates to make plans, or turns down invitations
- needs more downtime
Highly Sensitive People are Emotionally Reactive:
- Reacts strongly to feedback – positive and negative
- over-compensates, over-corrects
- cries more readily than others
- considerable empathy for others
- worries more about how someone is reacting to a negative event
- gives more positive feedback
- pays attention to group morale
- reacts quicker to feel anger, curiousity, sadness, anxiety or joy sooner (?)
Highly Sensitive People are Sensitive to Subtle Stimuli:
- they notice things that others miss
- arranges work and play spaces with special care
- makes adjustments to that their environment is “just right”
- Comments on others’ dress, or small changes in the environment or weather
Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person:
- Set bedtime/morning routines
- Identify triggers
- Plan ahead!
- Work around triggers
- Investigate current stressors and solutions
- Remember that these traits are gifts!
- Take mini retreats
- Engage in gentle exercise
- Speak up.
- If seeing a therapist, select someone that knows about HSPs.
A good morning routine can set the stage for the day. The HSP should wake up 15-20 mins earlier than usual to begin the morning routine. Start with gentle stretching, yoga, or light calisthenics. Spend at least 15 minutes centering self through meditation, progressive relaxation, or listening to meditation. Eat a nourishing breakfast slowly. Leave plenty of time to drive.
A good evening routine can positively influence quality of sleep. An evening routine should start with calming activities: reading, uplifting books, writing, meditating, taking a bath, or having light discussions. Avoid watching overstimulating or violent TV shows in the evening. For 30 mins prior to going to sleep, turn off the day and go inward by meditating, listening to a relaxation audio, or whatever helps transition to restful sleep.