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The Highly Sensitive Person and Anxiety

It's important to remember that it is not a flaw to be Highly Sensitive.

It’s important to remember that it is not a flaw to be Highly Sensitive. Highly Sensitive People are not crazy, weak, or lazy. You are just different from 70-80% of people, and that’s okay! Your brain is wired to be more sensitive because it processes things deeply and this can lead to overstimulation and overwhelm if you don’t know how to protect yourself from this hyper-awareness of the world around you. In more extreme circumstances, this can lead to experiences of anxiety.

However, because the trait of being highly sensitive is innate and not a 'disorder' there's nothing to be “fixed” or changed in any way. There is no magic pill to 'get over' your traits. The good news is that there are many strategies that can help with managing anxiety if you have a highly sensitive brain! You can learn techniques and skills that will help ease your symptoms so that they do not interfere as much with your daily life.

You are not just being "too sensitive" or over-reacting.

If you find that you are overstimulated easily, or if you've been told that you're "just being too sensitive" or "overreacting," know that it's not your fault. In fact, this is a sign of something very common in the world; one out of every five people are highly sensitive. People with high sensitivity tend to be empathetic and feel things deeply. While they may appear soft-spoken on the outside, they're actually taking in a lot of information. They can often sense when someone isn't telling the truth through their nonverbal behaviour (even if they don't look like they're paying attention). They pick up on subtle energy shifts around them, such as mood changes and feelings of stress. Finally, people with high sensitivity have a hard time blocking out background noise when concentrating and enjoy quiet environments where sounds aren't jarring or disruptive to their focus.

Highly sensitive people tend to experience increased anxiety and there are ways for them to find relief

For a highly sensitive person, anxiety can seem like an impossible, never-ending cycle. You may feel like it is your fault that you struggle with anxiety, and you may even be afraid of asking for help. Let me assure you: you are not overreacting; you are not being too sensitive and you are certainly not alone.

At the end of the day, there are many things in life that we cannot control – but we always have the power to seek support and ask for help when we need it most. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety as a highly sensitive person, try to reach out to someone who can give you the resources and support that you need to feel better about the world around you – whether this means reaching out for coaching or simply finding someone close in your life whom you can confide in and trust.

There are ways you can manage your anxiety.

Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety, if you’re a highly sensitive person, there are steps you can take to help manage it. Here are some tips:

  • Listen to relaxing music. It may seem obvious, but sometimes the simplest solutions really are the best. Any type of calming music can have a soothing effect on your nervous system and encourage relaxation.

  • Breathwork is one of the most effective ways for HSPs to reduce anxiety-related symptoms like stress and worry. The goal is to connect with your breath so that you can focus inward and allow yourself time to relax and connect with your thoughts and emotions in a more meaningful way.

  • Practice mindfulness techniques daily. Mindfulness involves becoming aware of what's happening around you at any given moment without judgment in order to avoid being caught up in negative thoughts or feelings about past events or future worries—something that often occurs when dealing with anxiety issues as an HSP.

Sometimes, you may need additional help from a coach.

Sometimes, you may become overwhelmed by your anxiety. When this happens, it can feel like you’re drowning in an ocean of fear. If that occurs, a coach may be able to help you learn to swim in the ocean of your life. Coaches are trained to help HSPs identify their thoughts and feelings and then make changes that allow them to cope with their emotions. The Highly Sensitive Human Academy offers individual coaching as well as workshops for HSPs around the world. The HSH Academy has developed a popular method of embodied transformation that helps highly sensitive people gain navigate emotional overwhelm and step into their authentic gifts.

Natural solutions can help ease your anxiety.

As an HSP, there are natural solutions that can help ease your anxiety. These include meditation, exercise and coaching.

Meditation: Meditation can clear your head and relax you. You don't have to sit in the lotus position or chant for it to work! Find a comfortable chair, or even lay down and listen to some relaxing music with a guided mediation script playing on Insight Timer.

Exercise: Exercise also releases endorphins and helps calm you down, so go for a walk or jog around the block or find your favourite workout video on YouTube. Exercise has helped me tremendously when dealing with anxiety and panic attacks! I swear by it!

Sleep: Be sure that you're getting adequate sleep at night; eight hours is recommended although sometimes we need more than that due to stressors in our lives such as work, school or family obligations, etc., which can increase our fatigue levels. Go to bed early one night this week if needed; you'll feel better in the morning after a good night's sleep!

Remind yourself when you're feeling anxious that it is temporary, even if it feels like it will never end.

The great thing about anxiety is that it is temporary: the feelings will go away, even if they feel like they won’t.

As a highly sensitive person, I like to remind myself of this fact when my anxiety starts to creep up on me. The worst thing you can do when you get anxious is fight it and make yourself more anxious. Sometimes all you need to do is sit back and relax because anxiety has a tendency to come back down without your interference.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, take a break from whatever activity you are doing and step away for some space. The best way to manage the increasing levels of stress associated with HSP is by talking with someone else who can relate.

When you start feeling overwhelmed, remove yourself from the situation as much as possible and give yourself time to decompress.

  • You may want to tell your employer, family, and close friends that you plan to do this. Let them know how long you'll need; a couple of hours should be sufficient to decompress.

  • If this is not realistic, consider taking short breaks throughout the day.

  • If you're highly sensitive and feel overwhelmed easily in social situations, try scheduling social events at least a week in advance so that you have time to prepare for them. Also, give yourself more time than usual—an hour or two—to recover from the experience.


About the Author

Jules De Vitto, MAEd, MSc Certified Transpersonal Coach and Educator

Jules De Vitto has a BSc in Psychology, MA in Education and MSc in Transpersonal Psychology, Consciousness and Spirituality. She is an accredited and certified Transpersonal Coach for HSP, Authentic-Self-Empowerment Facilitator, as well as an experienced trainer and educator.

She is the founder of the Highly Sensitive Human Academy™ which provides quality courses and certified training for Highly Sensitive People all over the globe. She helps those who identify with the traits of high sensitivity to navigate emotional overwhelm, step into their authentic power and align with their true purpose in life.

She is a published author who wrote ‘Resilience: Navigating Loss in a Time of Crisis’ which provides practical resources to cultivate greater resilience and find greater meaning and purpose through times of crisis. She has published her research in the peer-reviewed journal Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal Psychology.


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