While we were making the leaflet on giftedness and high sensitivity [link] , experts gave us so many practical recommendations and tips that they couldn’t all be included in the leaflet. So now we are adding these tips separately, hoping that the people for whom they are useful will benefit from it.
- High sensitivity is basically a good characteristic. It can be used for positive things and you can benefit a lot from it.
Make a map of your own high sensitivity
- Take into account that you need more recovery time than people who are not highly sensitive, to process the same stimuli.
- When you have problems with your high sensitivity, make a map of what triggers you. Tiredness or tensions are an example of triggers that can make some highly sensitive people feel bad.
- For those situations that bother you a lot, try to distinguish between the bad feelings coming from inside yourself or coming from the outside. Don’t be distracted by what others might think of you. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to be true to yourself.
- Find out which external circumstances give you trouble. Find what helps you most in those cases. Sometimes avoiding things that give you feelings of stress is possible, but in some cases this may not be an option. For those times it could be useful to learn some relaxation techniques.
Increase your knowledge on high sensitivity
- Increase your knowledge on the subject, read articles and books, get in touch with other highly sensitive people, share tips. There are a number of groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that you could join.
- Staying fit, eating healthy food and sleeping well is important for everybody, but most certainly for highly sensitive people. When your resistance is low you often get a higher sensitivity to stimuli.
- Create your own first aid kit. For example a list of things that help you. Make this list when you feel good and are relaxed. Why? When you are overstimulated you often don’t know what it is you need. If you only have to select an item from a list, that would make it easier for you.
- Many highly sensitive people say they benefit from meditation, mindfulness, visualisation techniques and heart coherence training. Other highly sensitive people prefer to go outside and get active. Find out ways that work well for you.
- Sensitive to sound? Make sure to always have ear plugs with you.
- Sensitive to light? Never leave home without your sun glasses.
- Sensitive to tension? Use cold drink cans or a cold pack. Holding something icy cold will literally ‘cool’ your brain.
What to do when you’re overstimulated?
- Plan a period of rest after situations with a lot of stimuli, like evenings out with friends or an afternoon of shopping in a busy area.
- Use a headset that keeps out all environmental sounds, this will be very soothing after stress.
- A visualisation technique: after a busy day take a shower and visualise that literally all worries and stimuli are being washed away by the water.
- Are you often overwhelmed by your emotions? Do you have strong emotional outbursts? Or do you freeze up? Find ways to buy time in conversations, take a step back or leave the room in an acceptable way, etc. Build up a repertoire to choose from in these cases.
Talk about it
- Talk about it with your partner. Explain why your time to yourself is so important, why being touched can be unpleasant at times or why the TV needs to be switched off sometimes. No need for him/her to fully understand, only to accept and respect your boundaries.
- You could suggest adaptations in your (work) environment. Be careful when delivering this message, but be clear about it. For example, explain that a lot of noise around you bothers you a lot and that you work much better when your surroundings are more peaceful. Find concrete and feasible solutions.
Find experts to help you
- Find an expert if you have a lot of trouble with your sensitivity and if it disturbs your daily life regularly.
These recommendations have been composed by Rianne van de Ven with the help of
Tamar, expert by experience
Gemma Geertshuis, trainer and coach with www.blauwediamant.nl
Eva Pama MSc. , Work and Organizational Psychologist with www.hooggevoeligheelgewoon.nl
Prof. Dr. Elke van Hoof, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, www.elkevanhoof.com
Translation into English by Yvonne Veltmaat