Have you ever heard about Highly Sensitive Person or HSP, KALMers? What do you think is a Highly Sensitive Person? What does that ‘highly sensitive’ mean? Drama Queen, sentimental, or whiny? Read this article so you can know more about HSP!
Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is a term to describe people who have strong physical, mental, and emotional reactions to stimuli. An HSP has a high emotional sensitivity and strong reactivity to external and internal stimuli, such as pain, hunger, exposure to light, or noise. This can sometimes make them easily overwhelmed.
Not a Psychological Disorder!
Highly sensitive is not a mental disorder, nor has it anything to do with the introverted personality type. In fact, 30% of Highly Sensitive Persons are extroverts. HSP is an aspect of personality that everyone has, but to varying degrees. Alane Freund, the researcher, said that people with a predisposition to HSP have several different areas of the brain, mirror neurons for example, that are more reactive than other parts.
Characteristics of Highly Sensitive Person
DOES is an acronym that describes the characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person introduced by Elaine Aron:
- Depth of Processing
HSPs have a deep thought process about their experiences, thoughts, feelings, impressions, and memories. They pay attention to lots of small things that other people can easily miss, then integrate it into a whole piece of information. This is why HSPs are more thorough and creative when working on something.
They are sensitive to many things and that is what makes them easily feel overstimulated and overwhelmed. They process too much information which makes them easily stressed, difficult to concentrate, and even triggers anxiety.
- Emotionally Reactive and Empathy
An HSP is often identified as a Drama Queen and overreacting person, which is often frowned upon. Most people think that HSP is sensitive only to negative emotions. But they are not! Studies show that an HSP is actually also more reactive to positive emotions! They are very sensitive to positive feelings such as pleasure, happiness, and excitement. They also have a high level of empathy.
- Sensitive to Subtle Stimuli
An HPS is probably the type of person who when they enter a room they will pay attention to every little thing in it. They can sense it when the light is too bright, the temperature is colder, even the dust that sticks on the table. They also dislike noise because of their sensitivity.
Living as an HSP
There are many challenges for being a sensitive person. Living as HSP which is only 20% of the world’s population with 80% of people who are not HSP is not an easy matter. Sometimes people don’t understand the process that HSP goes through.
The challenges of each HSP may vary. They may have difficulty adapting to new situations, display emotional responses that seem inappropriate in social situations, or most commonly get overwhelmed easily in a crowd. But HSP also has a flip side. They often feel happy as HSPs because they feel it is easy to connect with people closest to them, can easily empathize, and can find their own enjoyment in art and music.
As with all personality traits, there are pros and cons to being highly sensitive. With the right support and awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, HSPs can set up an environment in which they can grow.
Things You Can Do as an HSP
Self-care is crucial for HSPs, especially when you have to deal with stressful situations. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, controlling caffeine and alcohol consumption, and scheduling activities can be useful strategies for reducing stress.
To manage your overwhelmedness, focus on self-care. Do activities that can neutralize your overstimulation. Read a book or listen to music for example. Both of them can help you be mindful, concentrate on one thing, and ignore other distracting stimuli.
Talking to friends or a mental health professional can also help HSPs cope with their heightened emotional response to stress. Download the KALM Counseling App (here) to discuss with a professional Kalmselor.
Written by: Rachma Fitria
Translated by: Rachma Fitria
Edited by: Lukas Limanjaya
Psychology Today. (n.d). Highly Sensitive Person. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/highly-sensitive-person
Scott, E. (2020, September 18). What is a highly sensitive person? Verywell Mind. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/highly-sensitive-persons-traits-that-create-more-stress-4126393