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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

HSP The Highly Sensitive Person

By Karen Schweiger

A highly sensitive person (HSP) is someone who tends to be deeply affected, both emotionally and physically, by the world around them. The definition is as complex and richly nuanced as the people it refers to.

People who are highly sensitive tend to be introverted. They face many challenges because of the way they are impacted by the world around them. For example, if there are too many things going on around them at the same time, they can become easily overwhelmed. Multitasking can be akin to torture for a HSP. With the ability to be highly aware of both their own feelings and the feelings of others, many find themselves drowning in the emotions or energy of another. In order to protect themselves, they may shut down and in doing so, appear as aloof or unsociable to other people.

In addition, many HSPs have heightened senses. For those who have a powerful sense of smell, they may be overly affected by harsh chemicals or strong perfumes. Those with sensitive hearing can be easily startled by loud sounds, such as fireworks. Even bright lights tend to be bothersome to a HSP.

Unfortunately, because of society’s negative views of oversensitivity, a HSP can suffer from low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. People may criticize their sensitive nature, which can lead to self-imposed isolation.

Despite the challenges, there are advantages of being highly sensitive. They possess more awareness of themselves, other people and the world in general. They are naturally more empathetic. They feel deeply and can immerse themselves in the innate beauty of the world. Life itself is more intense and passionate, not only for themselves but for the people fortunate enough to share it with them.

In order to reap the benefits of being highly sensitive, there needs to be balance. HSPs need to set firm, clear boundaries and hold true to them. They need to be careful not to overextend themselves emotionally and physically, so time spent resting and recharging their energy is key.

Another effective way to deal with overstimulation is meditation. Mindfulness and meditation can include going for a nature walk, singing or dancing and engaging in hobbies. Even washing dishes can be a form of meditation.

A highly sensitive person needs to realize that they are both unique and not alone. In fact, there are tens of thousands of people who are starting to discover and acknowledge their sensitivity and in doing so, are finding others like them. They are finding their “tribe.”

I am a HSP, and as such, I’m finally learning to navigate the challenging yet rewarding benefits of accepting, living and simply being exactly who I am. I’m on a journey of self-discovery and I’d love to share with you as it unfolds via articles and my blog.

For more information, visit Dr. Elaine Aron’s website,

Karen Schweiger, owner of In Your Arms, has over 25 years of experience in the customer care industry and is a certified, professional cuddlist. Gift certificates and in-home visits are available. 908-768-1800. [email protected].

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