A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is someone whose nervous system is very fine-tuned and easily overstimulated. When you have an average sensitive person and an HSP being stimulated with the exact same stimulus, you often find through a brain fMRI that the brain of the HSP lights up much more and in more different areas than the brain of the average sensitive person. That’s why the HSP usually needs more time to recover or recharge at the end of the day. They spend a great amount of energy navigating through simple daily events (e.g. meetings, busy places).
The subjective experience of an HSP becomes trickier when he or she is a high sensation seeker. Not all HSPs have this characteristic but they do exist, even among introvert HSPs. High sensation seekers are often driven by a sense of thrill and adventure. They look out for new experiences and they may get bored easily. They are also not afraid of going against societal norms. I’m an introvert highly sensitive person who is also a high sensation seeker, and I must say it’s difficult. Living with such inner complexity can be pretty overwhelming.
For instance, I love engaging with people but I can’t do it for far too long. At the same time, I can get bored if we only talk about the weather or what the next-door neighbor did lately. Also, if I do the same things over and over again, I start to malfunction. That’s why I have a very unique approach when it comes to managing my time and day. You won’t find me doing the exact same tasks every single day at the same hour and minute. I like to work with blocks of time and types of tasks.
Life can still be fun and exciting but HSPs have a few extra problems. We need to slow down and rest. We find comfort in accountability. We must work smarter at protecting ourselves from unhealthy behavioral patterns. Because we have a hard time managing our energy, we often find ourselves overwhelmed. We become burned down, and we might look for quick restorative fixes such as drugs and food. In my case, I indulge in food to seek relief from over-stimulation and need something to make me feel better. Quick fixes never do the job though. They actually make everything worse.
My advice is to make sure you incorporate as many sources of positivity as possible into your daily life. Positivity helps to buffer stress and overwhelming feelings. Take this as an example of self-care and make it a priority. It takes at least three positive emotions to counteract a negative one. Start doing the math and re-balance your emotional bank account. Seek uplifting conversations and experiences. Do more of what you like doing. Be more with the people that are important to you and make yourself present. Create your own moments of happiness and plan for them. These are healthier ways of getting high without harming yourself.
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