Why Highly Sensitive People Need Minimalism

Why Highly Sensitive People need minimalism

As I mentioned in my post 7 Benefits of Minimalism, one of the key benefits of minimalism for me is it calms me as a Highly Sensitive Person. A lot of people feel stressed or unsettled in a cluttered environment. But Highly Sensitive People particularly feel the effects of chaos and clutter. Too much sensory information, including visual clutter, can easily make a Highly Sensitive Person feel overwhelmed and stressed.

I already knew clutter makes me feel unsettled and stressed. But after realizing I am a Highly Sensitive Person, it became even more important to strive for a simple, minimalist life. In fact, I think Highly Sensitive People NEED minimalism.

Why Highly Sensitive People need minimalism
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What is a Highly Sensitive Person?

But first, what exactly does being a Highly Sensitive Person mean? The field of study of Highly Sensitive People is a fairly new area of research, with Dr. Elaine Aron spearheading it in the 1990s. She describes Highly Sensitive People as those who “have a sensitive nervous system, are aware of subtleties in their surroundings and are more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.” Dr. Aron estimates Highly Sensitive People make up approximately 15 – 20% of the population. However, it is still not very well understood by the majority of people.

Until a few years ago, I didn’t even know what a Highly Sensitive Person was. One day I read an article about it and it was as if I was reading about myself! I realized many things I thought were just my own little idiosyncrasies, were actually things other people experienced too. And better yet, there was even a name for it! It was a relief to find out that other people experienced these same things.

After realizing being a Highly Sensitive Person is a “thing”, it became easier to acknowledge and accept these aspects of myself. And make adjustments in my life where possible. I realized by accepting them as part of who I am and working with them, rather than against them, I could live a happier, calmer life.

Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People

These are some common characteristics of Highly Sensitive People. The more of these things you relate to, the higher the likelihood that you are a Highly Sensitive Person too.

1. Sensory information easily overwhelms you

Things like loud sounds, bright lights, strong smells or uncomfortable fabric textures can overwhelm and unsettle a Highly Sensitive Person. Large crowds or busy environments have the same effect.

2. Multi-tasking stresses you out

Highly Sensitive People feel stressed out, anxious and overwhelmed if they have a lot to do in a short amount of time. Having too much to do, being overly busy or rushing leaves a highly sensitive person feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

3. Violence in movies, TV shows or media deeply disturbs you

Witnessing violence in TV shows, movies or news stories deeply upsets and disturbs Highly Sensitive People. It’s hard for them to get the image or idea of it out of their minds. And they can feel unsettled about it for weeks afterwards.

4. You need quiet time alone after a busy day

After a busy or overwhelming day, Highly Sensitive People find themselves desperate for some quiet time. Often needing to spend time alone in a calm space, such as a quiet, softly lit room. Highly Sensitive People need time and space to shut the world out and recharge. This is true particularly after a busy day or after experiencing a lot of sensory information.

5. You carefully plan your days to avoid overwhelming situations

Highly Sensitive People work hard to plan and schedule their days to avoid situations that overwhelm or upset them. They make sure to provide themselves with ample time to complete tasks. And avoid having to do more than one task at the same time or in a short amount of time whenever possible.

6. You are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine or hunger

Highly Sensitive People tend to strongly feel the effects of caffeine, feeling shaky or jittery after consuming it. Their bodies also tend to be very sensitive to hunger. When they become overly hungry, it greatly affects their mood and ability to concentrate or complete tasks.

7. You have a complex inner dialogue and imagination

Highly Sensitive People often find themselves getting lost in your own thoughts and have a deep and complex inner life.

Highly Sensitive People tend to replay and analyze conversations and experiences in their minds. They often go over all the possible different outcomes that could have happened in their mind. Highly Sensitive People are often told they worry too much, or overthink things.

The flip side of this is they also tend to be creative. They have deep imaginations and spend a lot of time thinking of new and creative ideas.

8. People often describe you as overly sensitive or shy

Highly Sensitive People are still not well understood and are often mislabeled. They are often told they are being too sensitive or overly emotional. Or even that they need to toughen up or get thicker skin. They are often also mislabeled as shy because they need to spend time alone and avoid some overstimulating situations.

9. You tend to notice details in your environment others miss

Highly Sensitive People tend to be very observant of their surroundings, often noticing details others may miss.

10. You easily pick up on others’ emotions

Highly Sensitive People often pick up on the moods and emotions of the people around them. They may even take on the emotions of people around them at times. This is one reason busy environments and social situations can be exhausting for Highly Sensitive People.

11. Change is particularly difficult and upsetting for you

Most Highly Sensitive People have a daily routine they follow to feel grounded and avoid feeling overwhelmed. When they experience change, even exciting and positive changes, they often feel unsettled and overwhelmed by the change. Highly Sensitive People also often require longer to adjust to changes in their lives than other people.

Finding Ways to Cope as a Highly Sensitive Person

Why Highly Sensitive People need minimalism
Photo by Morgan Sessions on Unsplash

Many different things can overwhelm a Highly Sensitive Person. The key to thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person is finding healthy ways to cope with things that overwhelm you. And work to limit or control your exposure to things that make you overwhelmed.

Although there are some overwhelming elements and situations a Highly Sensitive Person has no control over. There are some things we are able to control. One of the most important things we can control is our home and the environment inside it.

We have the choice to intentionally create a home that can be our retreat. A refuge from the chaos and over stimulation of the outside world. A place to rest and recharge. A sanctuary. This applies not only for Highly Sensitive People but for anyone.

Why Highly Sensitive People Need Minimalism

Minimalism and decluttering are so important for Highly Sensitive People. Clutter in our homes adds to the external stimulus that makes us feel overwhelmed and stressed. A cluttered room filled with too much stuff can make anyone feel unsettled. But especially a Highly Sensitive Person.

Clutter and too much stuff add to the sensory information overload that can be overwhelming for a Highly Sensitive Person. A cluttered space gives our eyes and our minds fewer opportunities to rest. There are simply too many things to look at and take in. Clutter makes it difficult for Highly Sensitive People to relax or rest because they are bombarded with too much sensory information.

Now imagine a room with very little clutter, clear surfaces and room to breathe. A space likes this creates feelings of openness, calm and relaxation. Having a clutter-free space with clear surfaces provides a place for your eyes and mind to rest.

A calm and uncluttered environment helps to keep our minds calm and uncluttered. This is especially true for Highly Sensitive People. Minimalism allows Highly Sensitive People to create the environment they need to truly rest, relax and recharge. Especially after facing the world and all its sensory overload throughout the day.

I’m a Highly Sensitive Person….and That’s OK!

Sometimes being a Highly Sensitive Person can be made to seem like a negative thing. When we are told we are too sensitive, overthink things or need to toughen up, it implies being a Highly Sensitive Person is a bad thing. Like it’s a character flaw we must fix or overcome to be a more successful person.

However, after learning more about Highly Sensitive People, I now know it is simply the way we are. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just who we are. There are benefits and drawbacks to being a Highly Sensitive Person. Just as there are to almost any personality trait. The key is finding ways to build on the benefits and support yourself through the drawbacks.

For example, Highly Sensitive People tend to be creative, empathetic, compassionate and understanding. All of which are things to celebrate. On the other hand, Highly Sensitive People can feel frazzled and overwhelmed easily, struggle with change and easily become “hangry”. These are aspects of being a Highly Sensitive Person that can have negative effects on your life. But you can manage them by understanding, embracing and accounting for these parts of your personality.

The more I learn to embrace these innate personality traits and not fight against being a Highly Sensitive Person, the easier and more peaceful life has become.

Minimalism is One of the Key Ways I Cope with Being a Highly Sensitive Person

Why Highly Sensitive People need minimalism
Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash

Learning more about being a Highly Sensitive Person gave me more motivation to declutter, minimize and simplify our lives.

I know I need our home to be a calm and clutter-free space for me to be able to stay calm amidst the overstimulating chaos and busyness of the outside world and life with small children. Simplifying our home and life has had a huge positive impact on me because I’m a Highly Sensitive Person. This proved to me that the path of minimizing and simplifying was the right one for me to be on.

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

To learn more about Highly Sensitive People, check out Dr. Aron’s website for lots of great information. You can even take her test to find out if you are a Highly Sensitive Person.

Dr. Aron also has several books about thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person that I recommend:

                  

Now I’m going to sit in my quiet living room and drink tea in all my highly sensitive glory! 😉

Are there any other Highly Sensitive People out there who are/were relieved to know it is a “thing”? Who else is a Highly Sensitive Person working to simplify, declutter and minimize their lives? Leave a comment below!

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115 Comments

  1. Yes, it is very likely that I’m a HSP! Most of the characteristics that you listed of the highly sensitive person describe me to a T. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. I can relate to this idea so much. I have a constant struggle between my shopping habit that I sometimes use as a coping mechanism (such a horrible habit I know!!!) and the desire to have less stuff. As a highly sensitive person the clutter with 4 children is hard. The constant emotional and sensory overload paired with the overaccumulation of stuff is sometimes just overwhelming and discouraging. Thank you so much for sharing this article as it makes me feel more normal in this struggle.

    1. I was the same Jamie, it felt like such a relief to know I wasn’t the only one who felt this way! Kids definitely add another level of challenge to the mix. Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed as well by the noise, constantly being touched by the kids and just the messes kids can make in what seems like no time at all! Since seriously decluttering our home and staying on top of what is coming into the house, it’s helped a lot. But it definitely takes time. I fully understand and have empathy for the struggle! Thanks for reading 🙂

      1. Jaime I feel your pain! I am a highly sensitive single mom who engages in retail therapy occasionally. I also tend to hoard freebies, because…..they’re free(!?!?) . I struggle with relaxing at home due to too much “stuff”. It’s everywhere! Then when I finally decide to declutter the first step I take is to go to the mall for “needed” house decorations! My mind says if I’m getting rid of things I need to replace them. Why can’t a cluttered counter be replaced by clean space? I don’t know where this impulse comes from, but it is a douzey.

        1. I agree, it’s a hard habit/pattern to break. But I really think, knowing that about yourself is an important first step. Often, once you know and identify a pattern you want to change, it can be easier to make the change. Good luck and thanks for reading!

    2. Jamie, I too struggle with shopping and then decluttering…it’s a loose loose battle. Lol I know it’s a compulsion I just can’t stop sometimes. Since I am now aware of it I can at least try and combat it. Good luck.

      1. Yes, that’s really true Erin. Usually once we recognize and acknowledge something that isn’t having a positive impact on our lives, it’s easier to notice the behaviour and begin to change it. Thanks for sharing your experience and insights with us!

        1. Erin it is a hard battle but keep your FOCUS. LIVING WITH LESS!! This is the key to change. I have withdrawal symptoms having stopped drastically watching shopping channels and deleting what comes in to my inbox. I have stopped buying. Only buying the essentials I need. I feel better for it. Sometimes you will win and sometimes lose (regress) but keep going and don’t give up. It will get better. It helps sharing the difficult times because we are all in this together. Remember. ” A QUITTER NEVER WINS.!” ” A WINNER NEVER QUITS.!”

    3. Thanks for sharing this Jamie. This is exactly how I feel too so the struggle is real. I used to try and organize everything, but realized what I really needed was less stuff not more baskets, bins, etc. to organize things I don’t even need in the first place. I love shopping too and feel it’s a never ending battle of purging versus accumulation. I need to find a new habit to replace shopping.

      1. Yes, it can be a hard habit and cycle to get out of Shay. You’re definitely not alone! I think you’re on the right track though, because you’ve already identified some of the problems and what you need to do differently. You’re so right, organizing isn’t the answer if you have too much stuff to begin with. Organizing things you don’t need, use or love just wastes your time, space and energy. And the clutter is still there and will eventually make it’s way out of the baskets or bins and continue to cause you stress. Declutter first, then organize only the stuff you really use, need or love.

        And I think you’re right, if shopping is kind of your hobby and a habit, try looking for a different way to spend your time to stop the cycle of buying and decluttering. It’s hard, but it can be done! Good luck as you continue on your journey. I really think you’re well on your way because you are already aware of what’s not working for you and what you need to try doing differently. That’s a great start already! Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences and insights 🙂

    4. Looking forward to reading more. My sis recommended your page. Thanks. Here’s to less clutter and simpler living… Definitely a HSP here… Thanks, again…

  3. I can totally relate to this! Sometimes I’ll be running around, tidying things away, and my husband will ask me” “why don’t you just sit down and relax for a while?”. My response is always the same: “I’ll only be able to relax when all the clutter is put away!”. The curse of a highly sensitive person 🙂

    1. Yes!! You’re so right!! We just got home a few days ago from a big holiday away and I felt completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we had when we got home. Both stuff we took with us for all the various activities we did while away (boating, golfing, outside games, swimming gear, etc.) as well as the new stuff we brought home thanks to birthday gifts for my little guy and other little gifts from generous family members. It wasn’t until I did some quick purging and got everything put away that I felt like I could finally settle down and take a breath. Thanks for reading!

  4. Hi Melissa,
    I just ran across your post on highly sensitive people and like you thought I was reading an article about myself. It’s the craziest thing! A friend of mine used o tell me that Pisces individuals need time alone and tend to feel stress in their feet because I used to tell him that I get very grounded when I go to the beach at sunset and walk in the sand. It’s actually funny because my husband and I just had a conversation on the subject of change; I plan trips and make reservations and pack and then he says “what about we do this….”. I lose my mind!!
    Recently with the tiny house movement I find myself thinking that a tiny house could totally be my happy place. My husband doesn’t get it all however we do own a travel trailer now and talking about in 2 years going on the road in our RV so I’m getting there! Thanks for sharing and I plan on reading more on highly sensitive people.

    1. Yes, isn’t it interesting to learn more about it when you relate to being a Highly Sensitive Person so much?! I totally relate to you about being a planner and then being completely thrown off by change. It’s not my idea of fun! Your plans to travel in your RV sound great, I’d love to do that sometime too! Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences!

  5. Bloody hell, that checklist of characteristics is basically me in a nutshell. I’m not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, but in the past year I’ve got rid of a lot of useless stuff and it really has helped clear my mind. I do get more edgy if my home is cluttered. I feel like I can’t concentrate. Thanks for bringing this concept of a highly sensitive person to my attention! Didn’t even know it was a thing… 🙂

    1. Isn’t it amazing how getting rid of the excess stuff can not only clear your space, but also your mind?! I’m totally the same when my space is cluttered, I literally can’t relax or even concentrate either until I get it tidied up again. I’m glad you found the post helpful and it gave you some new information. My perspective completely changed when I first learned about the concept of Highly Sensitive People. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  6. Oh my gosh. These perfectly describe me! Like, completely! ? I’m sending this to my husband now. Thank you, this was a wonderful article. The idea of minimalism has always caught my interest, and I find myself throwing out things that don’t have a “place” in our home all the time. Definitely going to look into minimalism more.

    1. Thank you Victoria, I’m so happy to hear you found the post interesting and helpful! It’s always nice to know that other people experience some of the same things you do, at least it was for me! I’m excited that you’re interesting in learning more about minimalism, that’s so great! Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. This is so me. I can totally relate, and it makes sense. I have always been a person who’s stayed to myself because I could not stand being around crowds, people, or busy environments. Retail jobs in stores have been the worst for me, and being in school has made me uncomfortable. I love being to myself, alone, or with one person. I love this article. I do need minimalism, I always have growing up. Clutter stresses me out, a messy drawer stresses me out, a messy room stresses me out. ITS ALL TRUE! Thank you!

  8. I’m definitely an HSP – I only learned about it recently through Dr Aron’s books, and it just made so much sense! I’m also a minimalist. I have to have zero visual clutter in order to be productive, and since I homeschool my 4 kids that can be a challenge!

    1. Yes, I agree, when I read about HSP it made so much sense to me too. And validated what I had always knew about myself, but didn’t realize other people experience too! I can imagine homeschooling with 4 kids would be a challenge to keep things clutter-free and minimized, but since you know how important is it for yourself, I’m sure it helps keep you motivated. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  9. The article about HSP has freed me from self judgement.I have lived for over 5 decades of my life knowing I was so different from people around me but not understanding myself.Thank you Melissa,looking forward to search for more articles.

    1. I’m so glad you found the post helpful Grace! I think most of us HSP feel the same, knowing we are different but not knowing exactly why or that other people feel the same way. Knowledge is definitely empowering! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

    2. Grace ! I agree with you! I was always so different and I could never get with the “normality”of other people.I do think that now, it makes sense!

  10. Simple Lionheart Life,
    THANK YOU! Your “about me” touched my heart, as well! You ROCK that pixie (me, too!)
    As a home educating mom of 5, (with an impending military move every 3 years), who craves creative energy & the company of others, but often find myself so caught up in my own overwhelming thoughts & over stimulating environments, I just NEED to de compress, this article was a heaven-sent gift!
    I do have some questions, as I sit once again, in a sea of boxes & paper, held captive by my thoughts. Hahaha!
    How does one live with a household full of other HSP’s & function optimally? I do love minimalism & I am ambedextrous (which my dr told me as a result, my brain lives in a permanent state of imbalance & indecisiveness….OCD to the max). Also, does HSP tend to be a result of outher Neuro “disorders”? Some of my kids are HSP & epileptic/OCD & ADD.
    Thank you, again. I can now rest inside my own mind & I plan to research more of the HSP, for my family of HSP’ers. My husband is HSP, as well!! It took me 10 mins, to write this post, b/c I had to re read it thoroughly! Hahaha!
    Fondly,
    ~Kelly

    1. Thank you so much Kelly, I’m so happy to hear you found have enjoyed my site. I’m planning an upcoming post on way to thrive as a HSP. I think first of all knowing you are a HSP and what that means is a great first step. Becoming aware of what overwhelms you and your family members is important too. Once you know what triggers you, you can begin to limit your exposure to those things when possible, or come up with coping mechanisms to help you get through them if they are unavoidable. For me, minimizing and decluttering our home and schedule have been monumental in helping me cope. Having our home be a (mostly) calm place to recharge has helped me so much.
      As far as HSP being more likely to have other neruo disorders, I really don’t know. It would be interesting to do more research on that question though and see if there is any link.
      Good luck as you continue to learn more about HSP. Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences and insights. And thanks for the compliment about my hair – I LOVE having a pixie cut!

  11. Hi Melissa,
    I am a HSP and I have lived that way most of my life. I did the quiz and checked most of the boxes. Loud noises, bright lights and too many people come to mind first. I am like you I consider my home my refuge, my oasis and my peaceful place. The only place that truly makes me happy besides my home is the beach where I can be one with nature and enjoy the peaceful vibrations. Of course it is best when there are very few people there. I did not know there was a name for what I have always felt. I make a concerted effort to organize my life so that I have as little or no exposure to those things that really bother me. Clutter is definitely a problem. I purposely shop very early in the morning to avoid the crowds and lineups. This one strategy that has really helped me. Thank you.

    1. It sounds like you have developed some excellent coping strategies to handle being a HSP, that’s great. That’s a great tip about shopping early to avoid crowds. I find shopping crowds very overwhelming too. Like you, I didn’t know there was a name for the way I always felt either. But I have found it very empowering to learn more about HSP and ways to cope as one. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights, and thank you for reading!

  12. This is a great read! I realized just recently that I am a Highly Sensitive Person as well. Actually, I was introduced to the term “Empath” as a discriptor for my personality. I highly recommend this book “The Empath’s Survival Guide” by Judith Orrloff. I am not a reader by any means, and even I couldn’t put this book down. I felt like it was my very own User Manual lol. I hope this helps someone who is searching for a bit more clarity. Us Empathy and Highly Sensitive People have to stick together! Enjoy! xx

  13. I wish I could print this out and pin it to my body so people would understand me. Thank you so much for this. I’ve read things before about HSPs and I knew I was one but this post really hit the mark for me!

    1. I’m so happy to hear you found this post so helpful Meg! I think a lot of us HSP would like to wear a sign explaining we are HSP and what that means. It should would make life easier! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  14. Wow what a relief! I really thought I was virtually alone in my feelings , Thankyou , this is so helpful , and gives me an understanding as to why I am OCD and love clutter free kitchen, and home, abc why I’m finding it difficult having my ‘messy’ daughter back home , love her dearly, but I feel very ‘cluttered’ and anxious, I’m currently minimalising my home for a move , I’m scared but excited, gosh can’t believe I now know why I get ‘hangry’ &’I’m too empathetic thsnkyou again x

    1. I’m so glad to hear you related to this post and found it helpful Amanda! I think many of us Highly Sensitive People feel alone in our sensitivities. I know it was a huge relief for myself to know other people experienced these same kinds of things. Good for you for starting to minimize. Perhaps you could talk to your daughter about being a Highly Sensitive Person so she will understand your feelings about clutter and mess? Good luck with your upcoming move and thank you for reading 🙂

  15. Yes!! This is so true. I have always felt so drawn to minimalism but didn’t see the connection between that and being an HSP until this past year. I’m so grateful for this post. I work with HSP in my therapy practice and have been sharing this post with them to explain why their surroundings are so important to them, especially as an HSP. Thank you for this!

    1. Thank you Arianna, I’m so glad to hear you found the post helpful. I didn’t see the connection at first either, but once I realized it, it really made a lot of sense for me. Thank you for sharing my post, I’m flattered that you’re sharing it. I hope it helps some HSP find ways to make their life easier. Thanks for reading!

  16. Wow, you are talking about me, no test needed! I am also striving towards minimalism but had no idea it was because of my personality! Great article. I showed my husband and he was astounded to see how much this was me.

    1. I’m glad you could relate to the article. Learning more about being a HSP has been so valuable to me. So much clicked for me once I realized I am a HSP, including why I’m so drawn to minimalism. I’m glad to hear you found the post helpful. Thanks for reading 🙂

  17. Wow, for years I just thought I was super OCD. I am extremely minimalist and my friends always wondered why I don’t decorate more when I love home decor so much. Lol it just makes my heart Happy. I hate overhead lights and love the warmth of lamps and am always turning down the radio (if it’s even on) in my car. I enjoy silence more and more the older I get (36) and just went back to being a stay at home mom and during the day all I want to do is organize!! Again I thought it was all OCD. My friends think I’m silly with my constant organizing projects. Lol and don’t even get me started on my old school paper day planner. My husband owns a tech company and gives me the hardest time. I just purchased the sensitivity movie and can’t wait to watch it with him (ps he loves Alanis Morissette so I know he’ll watch it muahahahha) thank you for letting us know we aren’t alone. Please keep sharing about your HS so we can enjoy our HS family!!!?

    1. I’m so glad to hear the post resonated with you Erin and helped you understand yourself a little bit better. I think so many of us HSP think we are weird or quirky, and it’s so nice to learn we aren’t alone! Thanks for reading and sharing your insights and experiences, I’m so happy to know you found the post helpful!

    2. I can totally relate to the organizing thing. People have accused me of being OCD and my teenage daughter has accused me of “only caring about the house being clean”. It’s such a relief to know that there is nothing wrong with me and I’m not all those terrible things that I thought I was!

      1. No, there is nothing wrong with being Highly Sensitive. It’s just the way we are! I don’t think it’s a matter of really caring if the house is clean or not. I think it’s more a matter of the fact that HSP feel stressed, overwhelmed and find it hard to even function in a messy, cluttered environment. Once the house is clean, it’s like you can breathe again, then shift your focus to other things. But in a cluttered environment it’s really difficult for a HSP. I’m glad to hear the post helped you 🙂

  18. Thank you so much for this article! I’m not crazy, whew!! I’ve always known I was a Highly Sensitive Person. My problem is… how to communicate my needs of minimalism to my husband and daughter who clearly are not highly sensitive. My husband is SO messy. He leaves a trail everywhere he goes. I also think he has hoarding tendencies which makes it SO hard to clean clutter.

    How do you handle communicating with loved ones? I’m coming across as a huge nag.

    1. I’m glad to hear you could relate to the post Kim. It helps to know you aren’t alone! It can be hard for sure trying to explain to non-HSP how clutter and mess make you feel as a HSP. I think the best way to help communicate is to give them some information to read about Highly Sensitive People and what you need to help you cope better. That’s where I would start. Then maybe have some honest conversations with them about how much stress it causes you and how important it is for you to have a clutter-free, tidy home. Maybe pick a few things that cause you the most stress and ask them to try to work on those things. And maybe let some of the smaller things go? I know in my family, if my husband tells me something I’m doing is really bothering him, I try hard to stop doing whatever it is because he’s told me how much it bothers him. Maybe if you pick a few things you’d like them to change, and are very specific, but also calm when you talk to them about it, that might help. I hope this helps. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

  19. Thank you for this very succinct, well thought out article. This post is sure to help many Highly Sensitive Souls struggling to find their way through the maze of clutter. I am an INFJ, Highly Sensitive Empath with a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. I have 34 years experience counseling individuals and families recovering from severe trauma.
    Over the years I have noticed a high colleration between traumatic life events and hoarding. I often do home visits and offer Design and Organization services as well as therapy. I will be referring people to your post as it is very compassionate and caring.
    At times it can be challenging to sort and organize other people’s clutter. I have created for my Self a calm soothing clutter free sanctuary I can retreat to at the end of the day. I also create space in my daily round to replenish and recharge in between clients. I am an artist so I feel drawn to colour and pattern. Yet I often experience
    a tugawar between my desire to spread my art supplies out and my strong need for visual order. I have found a thrifted armoire with doors to stash my tools behind to be a life saver. This provided easy access to supplies and visual serenity when needed. Thank you again for your article. I am sure you will be a brilliant success. Hugs, Jeanne

    1. Thank you for your kind words Jeanne. I’m so happy to hear you found the post helpful and feel it will be helpful to others as well. That makes me so happy to hear! Having your home be a calming oasis is so important, especially for HSP. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and experiences, as well as how you’ve been able to design your life to help you thrive as a HSP. Thanks for reading 🙂

  20. My kids and I are HSPs and I have read Elaine N. Aron’s book- isn’t it fantastic? I talk a lot about it on my blog because once I read it, everything clicked. I am so glad minimalism is trendy now because I am realizing it is exactly what my family needs. Although I veer more towards a cozy minimalist style, I find that all the stuff I keep needs to be HIGHLY organized. It drives my husband nuts, I’m sure. In long (haha), thank you so much for this post. Good to know I’m not alone in these thoughts! Have you read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain. It’s amazing as well.

    1. Yes, I can completely relate. It really was like everything clicked once I learned I am a HSP and what that means. Dr. Aron’s book is great! I can also relate about needing to be organized, I’m very much the same. I don’t function well with mess, clutter or chaos. Minimalism has been such a help for me, not only reducing the clutter, but also it’s much easier to stay organized when there is simply less stuff! Quiet is another excellent book, I agree. Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences and insights!

  21. I just realized I’m a HSP as well. I am a minimalist and also have a home organization business, but if I come upon a hoarding situation I can go from 0-100 in being overwhelmed. It’s kind of encouraging to realize others are faced with the same challenges I have.

    1. I have found it so interesting and encouraging to know I’m not alone as a HSP either! I can completely relate to what you’re saying. Cluttered and messy situations make me feel very overwhelmed too. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  22. Wow, I am so glad I found this blog post! I was searching for minimal living tips and tricks to help with the overwhelming stress that I keep finding myself in as far as clutter around the home, but reading about your explanation of HSP.. That hit home, I felt like I was reading about myself! Thank you so much for your post I really enjoyed it

    1. I’m so happy to hear this post helped you Lianne! I think a lot of us HSP don’t even know the way we feel is a “thing” or that other feel the same way. It’s always nice to know we aren’t alone. Thanks for reading, I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

    1. Thanks Jean, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the post! That’s a good question, I would be interested to know as well! From what I’ve read, a lot of HSP are also introverted, but definitely not all HSP are. Thanks for reading 🙂

  23. Thank you very much for this article!!! I agree with every word that you wrote here. The minimalism and gratitude are very important things that makes my life more peaceful.

    1. Thanks Mira! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the post. I completely agree with you, minimalism and gratitude really do have a wonderfully positive impact on our lives! Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!

  24. OMG this article describes me to a T!!! All these years, I have felt so bad about myself and like there’s ‘something wrong with me’. Oh, the pain and despair I have felt over the years and after reading your article, I now feel like I am ok! I’m not defective, I’m just Highly Sensitive! Thank you so much for making sense of years of confusion and turning it around for me!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that this post has made such a difference in your life. I agree, sometimes once we know the way we feel is normal and ok, and other people feel the same why, and we even have a name for it, it helps a lot! Thanks for reading and I’m so happy to hear this post had a positive impact on your life 🙂

  25. I have known for years that I am highly sensitive but I never connected that to my struggle to keep a simple, easy to maintain home. My honey has difficulty throwing anything away and our home is cluttered and disorganized! Thanks for connecting the dots for me! I spend as much time as I can in my happy place in the middle of the lake at mylittlebluekayak.com!

    1. I’m glad you found the article helpful! I think many HSP are drawn towards minimalism and simplifying, but sometimes we don’t even realize why! I’m glad you have found your own happy place to give you time and space to retreat and recharge! Thanks for reading and sharing your insights 🙂

  26. Hello. Thank you so much for this article. I am a HSP too. I struggle with my own clutter, which is usually manageable. My biggest challenge is my spouse. He has no regard for anything, anywhere. I clean up after him continually, and I accepted it for years. I need to wipe down the kitchen, counter, handles, cutting board just after he makes a sandwich! We decided that I would make simple file folders to manage his mail…but anything is stuck in any file, just to “put it away”. I have accepted this about him, and we have accepted my ‘need’ to try to have things orderly. But, truthfully, after so many years of this, it is starting to cause resentment and it’s more difficult to talk out. How does a HSP live harmoniously with a messy slob of a spouse…and remain sane? Please help.

    1. This is a tough situation for sure. I think trying to have a honest and open conversation with your spouse about how you are feeling would be a good start. Maybe he doesn’t realize just how much of a toll the clutter and cleaning up after him is taking on you. Or that you are feeling resentful about it. Aside from that, maybe having certain areas in the home designated as clutter free areas, to help you feel more comfortable. And then giving him certain areas that he can keep however he likes them. Maybe areas you can avoid if possible so you don’t feel stressed or the need to clean them up constantly. It’s not a perfect solution, but it might help both of you feel like you have spaces in your home that you have ownership over. I hope this helps! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience

      1. Many thanks. Good advice. Perhaps we can ‘build’ him a man cave. His space. Still, common areas will be a challenge when he is truly and innocently oblivious to the path he leaves… Perhaps we can agree to practice being more mindful. I sure don’t want to turn into one of those nagging wives! Love the blog, thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  27. Oh my! I ran across this post last night when the title pairing sensitive and minimalisim caught my eye on Pinterest. It’s as if the fifty-five years of my life suddenly came into focus. (Along with the sensitivities of two of my five children).
    Wow. How have I missed this all these years? I am HSP in every sense and am elated to know that this is a thing.
    Thank you for bringing this to my highly over-sensitive attention! I have ordered the book and cannot wait to dig in and understand myself and my children a bit better! To my non HSP husband my sensitivities may begin to make a little more sense.

    With deep appreciation,

    Tina

    1. This makes me so happy to hear Tina! It really does make such a difference knowing that being a HSP is a “thing”! I’m so glad you found the post helpful, it makes my whole day to know it’s made a difference for you! Thank you for reading and sharing your experience!

  28. I always thought that my I was just more irritable than most when it came to sounds etc and that my constant organizing of everything in my life was just a level of OCD. Reading this made so much sense as I can identify with everything! I decided that this will be the year where we start living a minimalistic life, and although there are friends and family not understanding why, I know I will be more at peace once we do. I’ve already started taking steps (and yes, making lists and planning it!). I’m looking forward to the journey and creating a peaceful space where I can spend more time with the most important aspect of life, my husband and son.

    Thank you for the great article!

    1. I’m glad to hear you could relate to this post and found it helpful. I think many of us HSP know that we are sensitive to certain things, but don’t realize there’s a reason (and a name!) for it. I felt the same as you, thinking it was just me. It’s always a relief to know you’re not alone! I’m so happy to hear you’ve decided to simplify your life. It sounds likes you’re off to a great start! I’m sure it will have a positive impact on your life and your relationship with your family. I’m excited for you! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  29. Oh my goodness!! Lightbulb moment!!! Thank you for this wonderful article. I am a highly sensitive individual. The whole article describes me to a “t”. I found this article on Pinterest after I became obsessed with decluttering my entire home and life. Decluttering has changed my entire way of thinking. I’m also healthier and workout more now. This article really helped me to understand myself more.

    1. That’s so great to hear Kimberly! I couldn’t agree more – the benefits of decluttering and embracing minimalism really do go far beyond just “stuff”. I’m so happy you are experiencing the benefits of living with less in other areas of your life. And I’m really glad this post helped you understand yourself more, that makes me so happy! Thanks for reading 🙂

  30. So happy to have found this article! I am definitely a HSP and most of the time choose to just stay home to deal with it. But, I am in desperate need of decluttering. I have been slowly working at it, but i don’t feel any progress. I also think my 2 children are HSP as well.
    Thank you for this article, for sharing, it makes me feel less crazy.

    1. You’re so welcome Cindy! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and could relate to it. I think making your home a place you feel like you can relax and recharge in is so important for HSP. As you’re decluttering try not to feel discouraged. Even if you declutter for just 10-15 minutes a day, you’ll start to see results fairly quickly if you stick with it. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience 🙂

  31. This is so me. Like I read every single point and at one point thought I would cry at the accuracy of this. I get to work and the first thing I do is make a list of all the things I need to do and what I am going to do on that day. It makes my life so much easier. On busy days I feel so overwhelmed and like running away.

    It has taken me too long to arrive at this point and I am actively trying to make the areas around me more me friendly. I have recently started trying to organise my house using the Kon mari method, have you heard of it?

    I am having letting go issues of course after years of accumulating things even though I know it is good for me and I do not use half of the things I own.

    I will get there, slowly slowly.

    Super happy to have found this article 🙂

    1. I’m so glad to hear you could relate to this post, I think it’s a relief for a lot of us HSP to know we aren’t alone! It sounds like you have found some really great ways to learn to cope as a HSP. I agree, knowing what causes you stress, and learning what you can do to better manage it is really important.

      I have heard of the Konmari method, and have heard really great things about it! Good for you for working on decluttering your home! Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience and insights!

  32. Thank alot for posting this article, gives me lot of ideas how to live my life and make it more simper…. Frankly speaking why sensitive people can’t make friends so easily, please could you make article on this if you won’t mind???

    1. You’re welcome, Krishna! I’m glad this post was helpful for you. To answer your question, I think many people who are HSP feel easily overwhelmed in social situations – the crowds, busyness, noise, etc. are all things that make many HSP feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed. That might be one reason why HSP have difficulties making new friends. Many HSP are also introverts (although there are HSP who are extroverted – so this doesn’t apply to everyone). People who are introverts tend to expend energy when socializing with friends and regain their energy when they’re alone. Introverts also tend to enjoy fewer friendships, but a deeper level of friendship. These are other reasons why some HSP who are introverts may also struggle with making friends and maintaining friendships. I hope this helps. I’ll definitely try to write more posts about Highly Sensitive People to address some of these questions. Thanks for reading!

  33. Yes, I am a HSP. Just found the label recently. It’s very hard. I need help to clear out normal things in my house that feel excessive to me. Everyone says they love my house… but I cringe. And I get fatigued easily. Being on the computer writing this is good, but I even get that feeling in the pit of my stomach if my mind wanders beyond the screen. Yes, people this is very real and very hard to deal with. Thanks for the opportunity to vent. Sincerely, Cynthia

    1. Yes, I agree Cynthia – when you’re a HSP, everything impacts us different and more deeply. It can feel overwhelming when you think about everything you want to do in your home all at once. Instead, I like breaking it down into small tasks and projects that feel less overwhelming and more manageable. For example, instead of thinking how much work you have to do to get your whole house the way you like it, try thinking about decluttering and organizing one drawer or one shelf. When that’s done, move on to the next. If you keep working away in small pockets of time, it’ll all get done and you won’t feel discouraged. I hope that helps! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

  34. It is grand that personality recognition takes place and we identify and relate these manners in order to ease or eradicate with acceptance the pain and suffering that being misunderstood may cause to our lives….well done! Now that you are aware of your characteristics, you can now go even deeper and inquire what use is there for being HSP or perhaps, if there is truly any use at all. The important matter here is that you do not get caught in a mind trap where division, and once again classification, places you in a class, group or similar. These sort of things quickly become a trend and if not handled with care, people will then walk around with their HSP ego blown out of proportion and perhaps even compete for who is more sensitive. This, unfortunately, could result once again in a population division! Sorry gay community, you are no longer hip, HSP is the new thing….if you get what I mean. The fact is that everyone in their most natural form is an HSP, but most people don’t even know it. At times we all get a glimpse of extra sensitivity activity or rather sensorial awareness and ignore it to the point of wearing it out. I have been aware of my HSP since birth but I have been conditioned and taught to ignore it. There is no need to add to it additional drama or story, this is nothing new, the only difference is that nowadays people are becoming more aware of their need to understand who they are. Once you understand it at a sensitivity level and not egotistical, rational thinking level, you may then nourish from it and be it, become it. The ups and downs, the spontaneous mood swings and etc that relates, are all significant to the ultimate truth (◄This is just a way to put it). If you can perceive your awareness, you will then understand at an awareness level (sorry words are not the best way to explain this), that we can sense everything….. from the tiniest speck of dust to the joy of a multitude all the way across the planet. If the vibration is present then we can pick it up, and all is needed is not just HSPersonality but awareness of the very present moment. Your research is grand because it helps people to connect and hopefully unite in a very deep truth which is, and as evident as it will become to most of you, that we are all exactly one and the same. The wonders of this life drive us through one path or another simply to discover that. Pick up the obvious facts; We are all born, we are all then given a title and we then play our role, we spend years hungry for individuality, becoming someone and “competing” for recognition but then, in the most natural way, we surrender when we discover that there are many more people like us and as the most natural outcome, we rejoice at sharing and becoming part of a larger mass. We age, we lose our identity, our ego, we deteriorate and we vanish. Is anyone you know excluded from this? Be aware, dwell in your stillness and simply don’t try to be anything, just simply be. A long time ago we were gifted with the most magnificent place to live, where nothing had to be one way or another. Our understanding of life required no meaning, we simply lived without judging, analyzing. Love was not an aim, happiness simply was like our breath, it covered every single cell of our being and what is the most grandiose part of everything mentioned above, is that we are inevitably all-of-it.

  35. It is so quick how the mind can formulate a plan by now simply acknowledging that ‘HSP’ is a thing and that it is totally ‘normal’. Curious enough, I was quick enough to catch my mind’s intention to use this to start an argument.

    My wife who in fact was who forwarded this article to me with a subject line saying: ”This is you honey”, had taken the time to read it and acknowledge that all of the mentioned characteristics pretty much fit with my personality perfectly. I was very happy at first to think that now my wife could understand me better, or rather, my mind was happy hoping my wife would understand me better and therefore would obviously somehow be more careful with her usual ways of being. “She knows how I truly am now and that I can’t prevent it, so she most definitely will be more careful from now on” said my mind, but did she or is she? NO, and there is no need for her to be.

    My mind busted into rebellion and in a spec of a second formulated a plan to ignite one more of its most unnecessary arguments that lead to absolutely nothing.

    So here are the facts, yes I can say my mind/emotions function in alignment with an HSP, and so, does it mean that people that know about my sensitivity should now treat me differently? No, absolutely not and in addition, who says that people who supposedly do not have HSP don’t have their own version of sensitivity such us NONE SENSITIVE PERSONALITY? And if so, where will that eventually lead us? most likely to a division.

    Whichever approach you may wish to adapt to understand this, all of it is not truly you.

    Be careful to not fall into the mind traps because you may end up isolating yourself from the world, (I did for some time) or perhaps wish to hide and exclude yourself from life in many ways. And I say this in general because there are obviously many different minds out there, some willing to generate more emotional attachment to the ‘not being understood factor’ than others.

    I encourage you Simple Lionheart Life to make wise use of your followers and audience and truly go beyond the surface of the ego and everything it involves.

    Your pointing is strong, it is brilliant to soothe the emotional suffering of people by telling them they are ok and their HSP is totally normal, but don’t stop there! Now that you have untangled a knot and can manage to release the tension, keep going indicating them how to manage and in a very short way of saying it, manage by not dressing yourself up once again in a new costume and be naked! (I DO NOT MEAN THIS LITERALLY).

    My uttermost sincere love to all of you and WAKE UP! 😉

    1. Yes, learning to cope with, better manage and work with (rather than against) your sensitive nature is important. And learning more about who you are and what makes you tick is an important first step. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  36. Thank you so much Melissa for your article. I had tears in my eyes as I read it because I recognized myself in it. I have always been told I am oversensitive and as a child, my mom called me her “worry wort”. As an adult, I hate crowds and I am obsessed with decluttering and organizing. But what plagues me the most is my conversations with people. I worry about what I have said, to the point of making me sick. I could go on, but it would just be a repeat of your wonderful article. It helped me see that I am not “broken” because I am sensitive and that there are others like me out there. I will look into Dr. Aron’s books on the subject. My goal is to have a way of dealing with these feelings. Thank you so much!!!

    1. This makes me so happy to hear Marie. I think so many of us HSP feel this same way – like there is something wrong with us, when really it’s just the way we are! I’m so glad that this post was helpful for you. Thank you for reading and sharing your story!

  37. Hi everyone, I truly enjoy coming back here from time to time and add in a few more words after reading more comments from some of you and then the reply from Melissa.
    My apologies for disagreeing Melissa, but assuring your readers that “really it’s just the way we are!” may not be the wisest thing to say. I totally understand your intentions and I am certain some readers will take my words offensively, since this whole discussion is ever so emotionally related, but if you question who you are now, the only true space in which life takes place, you will realise that even at the most superficial or even emotional level, you are not the person you may wish to identify yourself with or the person others say you are.
    I guess that making reference to spiritual talkers may not be appropriate, but I truly encourage everyone to take advantage of your sensitivity because it is a gift and not a curse. Being more sensitive, to say it this way is indeed a privilege and a form of shortcut to discovering your true self, to become aware and be in the now. Remove the veil from your eyes that blinds you and see past your own limitations.

    1. I certainly agree that although being highly sensitive can make life more challenging in some ways, it can definitely be an asset in many other ways.

      However, although I do think we all have the capacity to grow as people and push our own limitations and perceptions, I still believe being highly sensitive is still a personality trait or temperament that some people are born with. It’s the ways our brains are wired. But that is not to say that we can change our expectations of ourselves and push ourselves out of our comfort zone at times to grow as a person. Thank you for adding your thoughts to the conversation, it’s a great discussion.

  38. I fit every single point of this article. It was comforting to read that it was a “thing” and that I was not alone. I appreciated how you point out that it is not good or bad, but like any other personality it has its strengths and weaknesses. I am a farm wife and mother of six children whom I homeschool, a baby on the way, and a 13 year old who stays with us much of the time. We have people working for us who I need to feed a meal to in the afternoon, and often they bring their families to hang out at the farm. I often get very overwhelmed. I want my home perfectly clean and organized, and my days carefully scheduled, but life, especially life on a farm, is so unpredictable and chaotic. I have to learn to deal with the noise and mess and interruptions and unpredictability of life. I want to be there for my husband and children and everyone else who comes along needing me. But as a hsp I need to make sure that my needs are met too, so I don’t have a breakdown or something. Thank you for your insights. I’ve enjoyed reading this article and the comments.

    1. Wow, I can definitely see how you must feel overwhelmed at times as a HSP Sarah. And yes, you’re absolutely right that you need to take care of yourself and meet your own needs as well. I have found once I learned more about being Highly Sensitive and accepted that it’s a “thing”, it really helped me. I stopped fighting against my highly sensitive nature and started looking for ways to make life easier and less stressful given I’m highly sensitive. I truly believe that the better we know ourselves and know what we need to feel our best, the better we are able to be mothers, spouses, friends, etc. I’m so glad you found this post and could relate to it. I hope it will help you begin to find ways you can take care of yourself and your highly sensitive nature so that you can be there for your family and farm in the ways you’d like to be. Thank you for reading and for sharing your experiences and insights with us 🙂

  39. I have been so hard on myself because I believed there was something wrong with me. I had begun to think I needed to have never married, had kids, (and grandkids) or a career. Getting “hangry” I put down as hypoglycemic, and now realize I am just more acutely aware of my hunger. I am also very sensitive to touch, have incredible spatial memory, can eyeball level, and draw floorplans of the ‘perfect house’ to build in every piece of furniture! I thought I was a weirdo. I love the passage of scripture that says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” because it comforts me to know our Father didn’t make junk. I just never thought anyone else knew my personal ‘hell’ of being so overwhelmed inside my head because of the external stimulus in the world around me. Thank you so much for this article. I am so relieved now, and by seeing all the other comments, I am in good company too. Hello Friends!

    1. I’m so glad this post resonated with you Elizabeth and helped you feel not so alone. I think so many of us HSP feel like we are the only ones who feel this way. Then it’s such a relief to learn we aren’t alone! I love the passage of scripture you shared and your perspective on it. You’re absolutely right! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience. I’m so happy we are able to connect!

  40. Wow, I never knew this was a thing. You described me to a tee. Now I know why I have to have everything in its place or have to pull over in the car when I am almost home from work to have some quiet time. Thanks for your post it was very enlightening and I will definitely look into some of the books you recommended. Thank you 🙂

    1. I’m glad this post resonated with you Deb. I think the more we know and understand our sensitive nature, the better we are able to work with it rather than against it. I’m glad to hear this post was helpful for you. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy learning more about being a Highly Sensitive Person!

  41. I have realized I am both highly sensitive and a minimalist at heart. However I have no space with these traits and I can never persuade my wife to go down the minimal route. I live in chaos and I feel like I can’t breathe. How can I talk to my wife about this?

    1. It’s always tough navigating how to live with a non-minimalist when you thrive on a simplified home. My best advice would be to first talk to your wife about how you feel. Share more about what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person and why minimalism improves your life. She may not realize what an impact the amount of stuff in your home is having on you.

      Beyond that, my next piece of advice would be to try to find one space in your home that can be your oasis or haven. It could be a whole room if you have space or even just a section of a room. The goal would be to create a space you can retreat to when you’re feeling overwhelmed so you can rest, recharge and relax. Finding and creating your own oasis you can retreat to is a great way to cope with your sensitivity in a house that makes you feel overwhelmed. I hope that helps! Thanks for reading.

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