Just like how dandelions thrive in a broad range of conditions while Orchids require super specific conditions, HSPs also need certain factors to stay in alignment.
In a highly sensitized world that doesn’t bat an eyelid to flashing billboards or crammed app interfaces, it takes intention for us highly sensitive people (HSPs) to carve out a personally sustainable lifestyle.
Is it challenging? You bet! But HSPs do it anyway, because that is what makes life meaningful and worthwhile to them. Whether it is design, music, creativity or a certain pace of life (to name a few), you probably already have inklings of what you need to experience calm, grounded joy and deep peace on a regular basis.
However, more often than not, you wander far from that happy place you envision. Environments and interactions drain you, leaving you unhappy, overstimulated, and simply, out of alignment with yourself. Read on for the six signs you’re out of alignment as an HSP, and how to get back back on track.
6 Signs You’re Out of Alignment as an HSP
1. You lose track of your surroundings.
In the periods of life when I was dealing with high stress, I used to hear, “What’s going on in your mind?” To my family members’ frustration, I was totally oblivious to my surroundings.
This could look like unwashed plates, stacks of papers on the floor, messy tables, and half-done jobs laying around. Pause for a moment to scan your surroundings. If our physical environments are a reflection of your internal states, a messy one is a hint you might be too overwhelmed with everything that’s going on. (And our environments are very important to us HSPs!)
2. You’re in 110 percent hustle mode.
We HSPs feel so much and so deeply — both little and big things can cause this. When it gets to be too much, however, you might just switch to the other side: Shutting off and going on autopilot.
You bulldoze through things, mark things off your checklist, and charge toward your goals like there’s no tomorrow. Numbing out the senses can seem like a great thing to do in the moment, but only you know how exhausted you are deep down. You crave deep rest — we HSPs need more sleep anyway! That nagging thought of regret floats in the back of your mind, “Why did I push myself so hard?” If this sounds like you, know that it’s okay to not go-go-go all the time (or even some of the time).
3. You long to feel invigorated again.
Beauty is the lifeline of HSPs, and proudly so. Tearing over a dance full of life and vigour (that’s Flamenco for me), or missing home because of a touching video you saw, these can be quite commonplace occurrences for HSPs.
To have these disappear from your life, even temporarily, can feel excruciating. Because appreciating beauty is such a big part of who you are, it almost feels like losing a part of beauty in yourself. You wonder where that’s gone, and you crave for it!
4. You get snappy toward your loved ones.
At their best, HSPs enjoy being present, soaking up all there is and enjoying moments with loved ones. Being highly attuned to how others are feeling at any point in time, it’s practically your superpower to be able to pick up signals and provide a safe space for others to just be.
However, when HSPs have not had their own tank filled up and their needs met, they can easily get snappy and agitated. You lose patience and find unkind words coming out from you. This is yet another sign you’re out of alignment with your sensitive soul.
5. Your (overbooked) schedule fills you with dread.
What a terrible feeling to open your calendar and hear yourself groan, “Huhhh… I don’t want to do that.” Even though we easily get exhausted from social interactions, we’re not allergic to social events or hanging out with people. It can be pretty enjoyable for us!
However, it is true that these can drain us of energy — and HSPs need periods to ourselves to recharge before we can head out again. If you’ve agreed to things you’re not actually interested in, or overpacked your schedule with too many hangouts — those are signs to do some rearranging! After all, your mental health is at stake.
6. You’re using music (or TV or other coping mechanisms) to escape.
Ah, this is a tricky one. Music (and TV and other distractions) can be very healing for many, but can also serve as a coping mechanism. If you haven’t had time to process things lately, you might feel like life has become too much for you lately.
Things like music serve as an escape and an easy way for HSPs to shut off. Only you can identify this, but once you realize that these outlets are no longer supporting you — but shutting you down — you know it. Something in you needs to be expressed instead of suppressed.
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How HSPs Can Get Back Into Alignment
If you find yourself identifying with many of the points above and have been feeling unhappy and not like yourself lately, you are most likely out of alignment as an HSP. Don’t worry, though, it happens to everyone — and these are great chances for us to learn more about the ideal conditions we need and to restore our balance. It’s just like how dandelions thrive in a broad range of conditions while Orchids require super specific conditions. It’s just nature’s design. Here are some ways you can get back in alignment with your true HSP self:
- Communicate clearly and frequently. As a highly sensitive person, it can sometimes feel frustrating engaging with the world. You might even feel as if the systems of the world do not support or celebrate the lifestyle of a typical HSP. That’s not surprising, since non-HSPs form the majority of the population — about 70 percent — after all. They are not our enemies, though; most of society just does not understand sensitive people. To help the people around you help you, it is totally paramount to communicate what you need to be able to thrive — be it time off, shorter periods of interaction, or quieter environments. Express these and ask for them. Chances are, your loved ones will understand more than you think.
- Stop, let go, and do nothing. After you’ve done the above and received space and understanding from people, it’s time to retreat! That’s where an HSP sanctuary can come in handy! The key is to make plans for yourself that will really help you relax. It could be an afternoon watching the sky, lounging on the couch, meeting a fellow HSP friend and enjoying companionship, or simply a good old nap. These simple things are deeply rejuvenating for HSPs and are also super easy to access. I suppose that’s the perk of being more sensitive to dopamine — we don’t need too much to feel stimulated!
- Analyze and understand yourself. Experiences in our lives are like massive blocks of data — looking back at what happened and understanding it is a wonderful part of “HSP Data Mining” (so to speak). Consider what made you react in a certain way and why you felt so much pressure. Also consider external factors: Was it because of back-to-back meetings or social events? Or meeting too many new people this week? Or simply leaving the house too often? By learning from these experiences, you can make more supportive plans and decisions for yourself in the future.
- Go back to your “expressive” place. Sensitive people can feel so much, yet at times, words aren’t enough to express the depth of all that is experienced. By making time to express yourself, it is also a way of slowing down and processing the emotions and experiences within. That might look like painting, singing, gardening, poetry, knitting… the list goes on! Whatever it is, block out creative time for yourself. Self-expression is not a luxury, but a true need for every human being, more so for HSPs!
- Do the KonMari — get rid of things you don’t need! Yep, I’m leaving the best for the last: Decluttering! It’s one of the most effective ways to reduce your sensory overload instantly. There are many different ways to declutter your life:
- Cleaning and organizing your physical environment
- Decluttering physical items
- Resolving old relationship issues
- Sorting out digital files
- Releasing commitments that no longer align with you
When these are sorted out, you will find much more mental, physical, and emotional breathing space for yourself. And, dear HSP, take as much time as you need — we’re not anything if not resilient. We’ve got a whole lifetime to experience, love, create, and learn. There is time. But the more you’re in alignment with your true sensitive nature, the better you’ll feel — trust me.
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