You may have heard of the term “HSP” or “highly sensitive person” before, but what does it mean? And, how do you know or discover you are one? Well, there is no simple answer or a manual you can read to find out… Yet. But, that’s what I’m here for! To help give you a little more clarity around the topic.
What is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
The term “HSP” was created by psychologist Elaine Aron in 1991. She defined it as “a person who experiences intense emotional reactions to both positive and negative stimuli, is easily overwhelmed by sensory input, and is very aware of subtleties.” So, in simpler terms, HSPs are people who tend to feel things very deeply and are highly aware of their surroundings. They often are more aware than others of small changes around them.
However, they are also more easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input, such as bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells. But, good news! If you’re an HSP, you are not alone. This trait has been found in other species besides humans and is found in 15-20% of the population. So, we can all rejoice in the fact that we are not alone in our experiences! But, let’s rejoice separately because that would be overwhelming for an HSP.
How Do I Know if I am an HSP?
Unfortunately, there is no official test to determine whether or not you are an HSP. Nor is there an official diagnosis. However, there are a few key characteristics or traits that tend to be associated with HSPs.
Here are a few of them:
- Easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input
- Feel the need for downtime
- Tend to feel things very deeply
- Highly aware of your surroundings and subtleties
- Very sensitive to other people’s moods and emotions
- Strong sense of intuition
These are just a few common traits that HSPs have but, of course, not everyone who is highly sensitive will have all of these traits. And, even if you don’t have all of these traits, that doesn’t mean you’re not an HSP. If you’re really curious, Elaine Aron created an HSP questionnaire that can give you a better idea of whether or not you might be an HSP.
How Being an HSP Woman Might Affect Your Life
So, you just found out you might be an HSP. Now what? Well, for starters, it’s important to understand that being an HSP is not a bad thing. Yes, we do not like loud noises and crowds but that does not mean we do not like people. HSPs feel emotions very deeply and are often very compassionate. We just have to be thoughtful about how we interact with the world and take care of ourselves. Here are ways we might be affected but can also thrive:
Control Over Our Environment
As an HSP woman, you may feel the need to have control over your environment. By this I mean, you might like to have a clean and organized space, limit the bright lights and loud noises, and generally have things the way you like them. Which isn’t a bad thing! It helps you have a space you feel relaxed and comfortable in. Some HSP women find it helpful to live in quieter neighborhoods or living situations. Others find that having a “quiet space” in their homes, where they can go to relax and recharge, is helpful.
Having an Exit Strategy
In social situations, it is common for HSPs to have an “exit strategy” when the environment is out of our control or becomes too overwhelming. This might look like knowing the layout of a room so we can easily find the door, having a friend we can text when we need to leave, or even just having a plan in our head of what we will do if we need to leave. And remember, leaving situations that make us feel overwhelmed or stressed is perfectly okay! Social situations can easily become overwhelming for HSPs so it is important to take care of ourselves.
For many HSP women, needing time to be alone is key to recharging from any overwhelming experiences. This can look like going to a dark room to just relax, taking a bath, listening to soft music, or doing any activity that helps you feel calm and relaxed. It is so important for HSPs to have this time to themselves to recharge so they can be present for the people and experiences they want in their life. It can also be helpful when processing emotions from a situation.
HSPs feel emotions very deeply. This means we might cry more easily or get angry more easily. However, it also means we also are affected by others’ emotions easily as well. When we see someone else crying, we might start to cry. When we see someone angry, we might start to feel angry too. This is why HSPs need to have an outlet for all this emotion. This can be by journaling, talking to a therapist, or even just talking to a friend. Just getting it all out can help us feel better and help us let go of any negative emotions we might be holding onto.
HSP is Challenging But Rewarding
As you can see, being an HSP comes with some challenges that you may have to face, but it also comes with some wonderful strengths. HSPs are compassionate, creative, and deep thinkers. We can feel things very deeply and connect with others on a deeper level. So, if you think you’re an HSP, embrace it! It’s a beautiful thing. And if you’re not sure, that’s okay too. Just take some time to learn more about HSPs and see if it feels like a good fit for you. Either way, know that you are amazing just the way you are.
Start Online Therapy for HSP Women in Florida
As a therapist in Florida, I would love to support you through your journey of self-discovery, whether you think you might be an HSP or not. And if you are an HSP woman, I offer coaching for HSP women. Or if you are an HSP woman in Florida needing a therapist, let’s talk! I understand the challenges and rewards of being an HSP woman and I am here to support you in whatever way you need. My practice is based out of my therapy practice in Miramar, FL, but I can help you wherever you are via online therapy in Florida. Or, are you outside of Florida, but still needing empowerment to live your best, most authentic life? Let’s chat about how I may be able to help you through empowerment coaching for women! Check out the rest of my therapy blog for resources, thoughts, and additional self-care tools. I’m here for you and your journey to a beautiful life.
Other Services Offered at Counseling Solutions of Broward
At Counseling Solutions of Broward in FL, I provide a variety of mental health services for women. I offer services such as anxiety treatment, depression treatment, counseling for imposter syndrome, after-divorce counseling, relationship counseling for one, and co-dependency treatment. This is because my goal is to create lasting transformative change and growth in your life. For more information on counseling, please check out my what to expect page or contact my counseling office to make an appointment.
About the Author
Enid DeJesus is a licensed mental health counselor providing online therapy in Florida. She helps women overcome challenges so they can finally feel good enough. Enid provides a safe space for women to share their thoughts and feelings without judgment. By using an empowerment approach in her counseling practice, she helps women see themselves as strong and capable individuals. This is why she works with HSP women to support them in their journey to a beautiful life. She understands that the world is chaotic and full of challenges. So, she is here to help to provide solution-based therapy to help you overcome your life’s complexities.
If you’re interested in therapy, schedule a 20-minute consultation!