A few months ago, I went to an event which was supposed to be brimming with fun-filled activities—and I attended it, with my colleague-friends expecting it to be a great unwinding session. What I expected to be therapeutic turned into a source of sensory overload for me. It was overcrowded, noisy and chaotic. I remember feeling drained and having the urgency to get out of there. I know I am a highly sensitive person and while I can regulate my emotions, feeling overstimulated due to external stimuli is something I am trying to cope with.
There are several people who are highly sensitive but are confused about their own experiences. They may experience emotions and stimuli differently than many others, which can often leave them feeling alone in their feelings. It’s important to remember, that high sensitivity is not a bad thing and it is a personality trait that many people share so you are not alone in this.
How do you know if you are a highly sensitive person? Here are a few tell-tale signs.
You experience emotions deeply
Highly sensitive individuals may feel emotions more intensely than others, and may also experience more complex and nuanced emotions. When you are hurt by a loved one, it is not easy for you to snap out of it. You experience strong emotions but it is not necessarily a bad thing. It can help you take the time to grieve and initiate a gradual journey of healing that is not just on the surface.
You are more sensitive to stimuli
They may also be more prone to feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated in situations that involve a lot of noise, crowds, or other types of stimuli. It may cause you headaches or you may feel a sudden drop in your energy.
You are highly empathetic
Another sign of high sensitivity is a tendency to be highly empathetic. Highly sensitive individuals are often able to pick up on the emotions of others and may feel a strong urge to help or comfort them. This can be a valuable trait, but it can also be draining.
You find yourself in tune with nature
When you are amidst nature—the countryside, the hills or beaches—you feel relaxed. It doesn’t even have to be a bucolic spot, just being in a park or in a café with many plants makes you feel like you belong there.
You are creative
Highly sensitive individuals may also have a strong aesthetic sense and may be particularly attuned to beauty and art. They may also have a deep appreciation for music, literature, and other forms of creative expression.
How to cope with feeling too much?
While high sensitivity can be a valuable trait, it can also present challenges. Highly sensitive individuals may be more prone to anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns, particularly if they are not able to manage their emotional responses effectively. Learn to regulate your emotions and accept the fact that some of those may feel more intense. With enough practice, you will be able to feel emotions but not let them affect your daily life in a larger way.
Steer clear of places and events that lead to sensory overload. If a situation is unavoidable, limit your time there and indulge in some ‘me time’ after to rejuvenate your senses.
Another important strategy for coping with high sensitivity is to practice self-care. This may involve taking time to rest, meditate, or engage in other forms of relaxation. Set boundaries so you can care for others but also protect your own energy. Also, understand your own limitations when some things start affecting you more than they should. Take a step back to do something therapeutic that engages you in your own life.