Today’s post is all about Highly Sensitive People and the benefits embracing a simpler, more minimalist home and lifestyle can have for them.
As I mentioned in the post discussing some of the benefits of minimalism, one of the key benefits for me, is how minimalism calms me as a Highly Sensitive Person.
A lot of people feel stressed or unsettled in a cluttered environment. But Highly Sensitive People, in particular, can be more prone to being impacted by the negative 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 home and life.
In fact, I think Highly Sensitive People NEED minimalism.
*This post contains affiliate links. Click here for my full disclosure policy.*
What is a Highly Sensitive Person?
First, let’s discuss what it actually means to be a Highly Sensitive Person.
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 a trait that 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. Then, 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, are actually things other people experience too. And better yet, there was even a name for it!
It was a relief to find out that other Highly Sensitive People share similar experiences as I do. And after learning being a Highly Sensitive Person is a “thing”, it became easier to acknowledge and accept these aspects of myself too. As well as make adjustments in my life where possible to make life easier as a Highly Sensitive Person.
I realized by accepting these aspects 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 Highly Sensitive People feeling particularly 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 more quiet, alone time
After a busy or overwhelming day, Highly Sensitive People often 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 more time and space, in general, to shut the world out and recharge. But this is particularly true after a busy day or after experiencing a lot of sensory input.
5. You carefully plan your days to avoid overwhelming situations
Highly Sensitive People often 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. Planning for quiet time alone is also important when Highly Sensitive People plan their day.
6. You are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine or hunger
Highly Sensitive People tend to strongly feel the effects of caffeine, often 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 their 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 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 also often 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 and subtleties 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. 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
Many different things can overwhelm Highly Sensitive People. The key to thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person is finding healthy ways to cope with things that overwhelm you. And taking steps to limit or control your exposure to things you find overwhelming.
Although there are some overwhelming elements and situations a Highly Sensitive Person has no control over. There are some things well within your ability to control.
And one of the most important things you have control over is your home and the environment inside it.
You have the choice to intentionally create a home that can be your retreat. A refuge from the chaos and overstimulation of the outside world. A place to rest and recharge. An environment that can become your sanctuary.
Of course, this applies to anyone, not only Highly Sensitive People. But taking control of your home and the way it makes you feel is particularly important for Highly Sensitive People.
Why Highly Sensitive People Need Minimalism
Minimalism, simplifying and clearing the clutter are so important for Highly Sensitive People.
A cluttered room filled with too much stuff can make anyone feel unsettled. But especially a Highly Sensitive Person.
Clutter and too much stuff create a lot of external stimuli to take in. Adding to the sensory information overload that can become overwhelming and stressful for a Highly Sensitive Person.
A cluttered space gives your eyes and your mind 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 like 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 also helps keep your mind calm and uncluttered. And again, 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.
You might have been told you are too sensitive, overthink things too much or need to toughen up. All implying that being a Highly Sensitive Person is a bad thing. Like it’s a character flaw you 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 you are. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just who you are.
There are benefits and drawbacks to being a Highly Sensitive Person. Just as there are with almost any personality trait. The key is finding ways to build on the benefits of being Highly Sensitive 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 become frazzled and overwhelmed easily, struggle with change and easily become “hangry”. These are aspects of being a Highly Sensitive Person that can be more challenging and 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 Key Way to Cope for Highly Sensitive People
Learning more about being a Highly Sensitive Person gave me more motivation to declutter and simplify my home and my life.
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. As well as what can often feel like chaos being home with small children!
Simplifying our home and lives has had a huge positive impact on me because I am a Highly Sensitive Person. And proved to me that the path of minimizing and simplifying is the right one for me to be on.
You can read more about how to learn to cope with your Highly Sensitive nature and learn to thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person here!
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 that I highly recommend to help Highly Sensitive People learn more about this aspect of their personality. As well as help them learn to better cope and thrive with their sensitivity.
Her book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and its companion workbook The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook are great resources to start with.
If you are parenting a Highly Sensitive Child, I also highly recommend The Highly Sensitive Child by Dr. Aron. She also has a newer book about parenting as a Highly Sensitive Person, called The Highly Sensitive Parent.
The Highly Sensitive Person in Love is another book by Dr. Aron you might want to check out.
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!
Friday 12th of May 2023
I connect with #3 in a big way! I edit what I watch. When I was little & We'd be watching a movie my family would say "Close you eyes in case it's a bad part". Don't like movies with any violence! Then we came up with our own movie rating of E, for Elizabeth. Finding new places driving can make me very anxious!printing a map & using navigator helps some. Hope you are all well & happy!
Simple Lionheart Life
Tuesday 16th of May 2023
It's important to know what triggers you. I'm glad you figured it out about movies early. I can relate the feeling anxious while driving to new places too. I feel the same! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience :)
Tuesday 20th of September 2022
It would be great if for this particular article, there weren’t 25 large flashing ads for HSP to focus on reading.
Simple Lionheart Life
Thursday 22nd of September 2022
I agree - I'd love to be able to offer an ad-free site. However, in order to cover the costs of maintaining and producing this blog and the content on it for free, ads are a necessity at this time.
Friday 17th of September 2021
Everything resonates with me on the list except for the shy part. Is it possible to not being seen or told you’re an introvert but still be HSP?
Simple Lionheart Life
Friday 17th of September 2021
Yes, absolutely! From what I understand, HSP can be introverted or extroverted, shy or outgoing.
Monday 16th of August 2021
I've been a follower of yours for several years. Minimalism has saved my bacon many times. I have daily routines that help a lot. I much prefer a quiet home w no TV, radio, or even just music. Even my pets are quiet, cats are not noisy like dogs. To others my life would be boring. I like it this way. Less stress..
Simple Lionheart Life
Wednesday 18th of August 2021
I can totally relate! I love to keep our home quiet too. I was just thinking the other day about how I'm sure my life seems boring to some people too, but it feels just right for me! Thanks for being such a loyal reader!
Sunday 15th of August 2021
I first read this post in November 2020 and it was, not to be too melodramatic, life changing. Every single characteristic that you list here, is me. It has been enormously comforting to understand myself better and to be able to take steps to reduce my anxiety. When life does get chaotic and out of control, which of course it does, the routines that I’ve now put in place to keep our home and lives more streamlined and less hectic, allow our home to be our sanctuary. In addition, I stay more ‘on top’ of household tasks so don’t feel pressured to catch up while dealing with whatever chaos is going on. 🌟
Simple Lionheart Life
Monday 16th of August 2021
I can totally relate - it felt life-changing to learn about HSP to me too! I'm so happy my article could do that for you! I'm so happy you're finding ways to make life a little easier and less stressful for yourself. That's so wonderful!