I don’t know about you, but I occasionally have days where everything seems to annoy me, and I’m not talking about people (well, I have those days too, but this is different). I mean, every single physical sensation has an annoyance factor nearing painful. So far today, I’ve had to remove my rings just to be able to use my computer, I’m regretting wearing my hair in a ponytail because it’s swinging against the back of my neck in an oh-so-aggravating way (I could easily be convinced to chop about 5 inches off at the moment), and I’m about to rip the tags out of my shrug because they’ve been scratching the hell out of my back all day long.

Do you have days like that?

Perhaps it’s just because I’m an HSP* and today more sensitive than most. I don’t know. All I do know is that I’m about to scream, rip off half my clothes, and shave my head, all of which would be entirely inappropriate for the workplace.

*HSP: Highly Sensitive Person. More information after the jump…

If you answered more than fourteen of the questions as true of yourself, you are probably highly sensitive.” I answered 19 true. (Out of 27 [link removed]. I took this quiz back in July of 2007 and have been saving a draft post of the following until a day just like today, when I’m annoyed enough to write more about it.)

  • I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.
  • I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment.
  • Other people’s moods affect me.
  • I tend to be very sensitive to pain.
  • I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
  • I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine. (More so now than a year ago, apparently. Monday night I had some iced tea with dinner and didn’t fall asleep until after 1:30. I actually laid awake in bed for almost 3 hours. Blah.)
  • I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells,coarse fabrics,or sirens close by.
  • I have a rich,complex inner life.
  • I am made uncomfortable by loud noises.
  • I am deeply moved by the arts or music.
  • My nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to go off by myself. (I’m nearing this point today.)
  • I am conscientious. (I’d like to think so, but perhaps this takes someone else’s evaluation. Afterall, isn’t conscientiousness directly related to other people?)
  • I startle easily.
  • I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
  • When people are uncomfortable in a physical environment I tend to know what needs to be done to make it more comfortable (like changing the lighting or the seating).
  • I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once.
  • I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.
  • I make a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.
  • I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around me.
  • Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.
  • Changes in my life shake me up.
  • I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.
  • I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.
  • I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.
  • I am bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes.
  • When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.
  • When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.

From HighlySensitivePeople.com [link removed]:

  • You, your partner, or someone important to you have a heightened awareness of subtleties in your environment, whether it’s sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell.
  • You can become stressed out and upset when overwhelmed and may find it necessary to get away, maybe into a darkened room, to seek solitude, relief and comfort.
  • You are very conscientious, hard working, and meticulous, but may become uncomfortable and less efficient or productive when being closely watched or scrutinized.
  • You feel compelled to file and organize things and thoughts, also enjoy simplicity and may become overwhelmed or even immobilized by chaos, clutter, or stress.
  • You are very uncomfortable when feeling things are getting out of your control.
  • You get a sense of comfort and well being when around a lake, river, stream, the ocean, or even a fountain.
  • You experience mood swings, sometimes occurring almost instantly and can also be affected by other people’s moods, emotions and problems.
  • You have a deep, rich, inner life, are very spiritual and may also frequently have vivid dreams, and possibly nightmares.
  • You are very intuitive and you feel that you can usually sense if someone isn’t telling the truth or if something else is wrong.
  • You get concerned and worry about many things, and have also been told “you take things too personally.”
  • You have had the experience of “cutting people out” of your life.
  • You were considered quiet, introverted, timid, or shy as a child.

From About.com’s Holistic Healing [link removed] page:

The trait of Highly Sensitivity causes them to process and reflect upon incoming information very deeply. It is not that they are “afraid,” but that it’s in their nature to process incoming information so deeply. Highly Sensitive People may even sometimes need until the next day to have had enough time to process the information fully, reflect upon it, and formulate their response. The trait of High Sensitivity can be viewed as having both positive as well as negative characteristics, and it is a valid and normal trait and is not a “disorder.”

Highly Sensitive People’s systems are very porous, meaning that external stimuli seems to be more directly absorbed into their bodies. (It has been said that it is as if HSP “have no skin” to protect them from these outside stimuli.) Non-HSP generally are less porous and have natural defenses which defuse external stimuli thereby not directly impacting and overloading their nervous systems.

Perhaps the best find yet, Coping Strategies at HSPSurvival.com [link removed], including a section with great potential on the work environment.

One Reply to “HSP”

  1. Wow. I AM an HSP – I mean, I’ve never actually called myself that – bc this is the first I’ve read about it – but this is me to a “T”. Very interesting!

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