Highly Sensitive Refuge
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9 Relatable Things That Drain Highly Sensitive People

If you often feel completely drained, you may have “energy leaks.” The sooner you identify them, the sooner you can fix the leaks.

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) feel things a little too intensely and can get overwhelmed in situations that might seem like no big deal (or less of a deal) to others.

If you often feel completely drained of energy, without actively doing much, then you may have “energy leaks,” so to speak, that you didn’t even know about. 

In this post, you’ll learn about nine everyday things that tend to leave highly sensitive people emotionally drained. Identify the ones that are relevant to you and close off those leaks in order to protect your energy.

9 Relatable Things That Drain Highly Sensitive People

1. Not being able to say “no.”

As a highly sensitive person, you may find it difficult to say “no” to people, in order to avoid hurting their feelings. However, saying “yes” all the time — especially the times when you really don’t want to — can take a toll on you (mentally and physically) and leave you drained and emotionally flooded.

If you don’t feel like going to a party, don’t. If you feel too emotionally exhausted to help someone out at the moment, politely decline.

Don’t let people drain your energy by saying yes to everything. Be selective about how you want to spend your time and energy — and with whom. 

2. Having no clear boundaries.

While saying no is one way of setting a boundary, there are many other situations where you need boundaries to avoid energy leaks, too.

For example, if you don’t like something — or if someone says or does something that bothers you — politely let them know. Anyone who cares about you would not want to make you feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed.

When you don’t set boundaries, people may intentionally (or unintentionally) say something (or do something) that upsets you. And as a highly sensitive person, you’ll probably ruminate over it, causing yourself more pain. This will drain your energy and exhaust you.

So, set clear boundaries, especially with people closest to you, as you have to be around them day in and day out.

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3. Shouldering everyone’s burdens and emotions.

It’s not your job to help everyone and share their emotional burdens. You can’t make everyone feel better, especially at your own cost. (But I know — we sensitive types can’t help it!)

Of course, you want to help people you care about. And you can do that simply by being there for them or just listening to them

But, as a highly sensitive person, you often end up carrying other people’s emotional burdens — and that leaves you mentally and emotionally drained. So, help people by listening to them and giving advice, but don’t carry their baggage. (Remember, it’s heavy!)

4. Having too many things on your to-do list.

Do you procrastinate often and keep pushing things off till the last minute?

Well, that might be one of the things that zaps your energy. The anxiety and stress of having too many things left to do are enough to overwhelm anyone, not just a highly sensitive person. But for HSPs, it’s even more intense and draining.

So, take the first step, a simple action to start that big thing you’ve been postponing for days (or even weeks). Just get the ball rolling. 

As you complete more tasks, you’ll build momentum to finish everything off your to-do list (or at least many things). 

Don’t let the anxiety of things to do drain your energy. Instead, intentionally choose to spend your energy checking things off your list.

5. Not getting enough sleep.

Lack of good sleep leads to physical exhaustion — this also affects your energy levels and mood.

This hits hard for people who have hectic work schedules or physically exhausting jobs, but is relevant for everyone. And being a highly sensitive person, you may feel this exhaustion more intensely. (HSPs tend to need more sleep than others.)

This means you’ll be tired all day and won’t be as productive as you’d like, which can leave you feeling unmotivated.

What can you do?

Prioritize sleep and build a good nighttime routine. This could include:

  • Putting all electronic devices away an hour before you go to bed
  • Taking a hot bath or shower to relax and unwind
  • Reading a book before you go to sleep
  • Meditating or building a daily gratitude practice
  • Anything that helps you relax (journaling, spending time with your pet, etc.)

6. Having a messy home or office space.

If you have clutter all around you, your mental space will also be cluttered and extract your energy.

So, tidy up and create an environment that boosts your energy instead of draining it. Use an organizational system that works for you and is easy to maintain.

Create designated spots for things and use shelves/boxes/what have you to keep the clutter to a minimum. Add use soothing colors to make you feel good, too.

Environmental psychology is a thing — and when you have a calming work or personal space, instead of clutter, you’ll feel more energetic and motivated.

Want to reduce stress and thrive as a highly sensitive person? We recommend these online courses from psychotherapist and sensitivity expert Julie Bjelland. Click here to learn more.

7. Trying to explain your sensitivity to people.

Feeling misunderstood hits hard for highly sensitive people and they often spend unnecessary time (and energy) trying to explain themselves to people.

If you find yourself in these types of situations often, just stop. Not everyone deserves an explanation. Also, some people will still not change their opinion (or try to understand yours), no matter how much you explain yourself.

Learn to be okay with people misunderstanding you — it’s okay if not everyone “gets” you. Focus your time and energy on people who do get you (or at least make an effort to). 

The sooner you get comfortable with being misunderstood, the better your life will be. 

8. Having shallow conversations.

Shallow and meaningless conversations can be a big source of energy leaks for highly sensitive people.

While it’s not possible to completely avoid small talk, you can still make those conversations meaningful. 

Don’t just ask how someone is doing — instead, genuinely listen and ask follow-up questions. Have intentional and genuine conversations, even if you’re put in situations where you don’t know anyone or feel uncomfortable.

If you’re at a party (or around many people and don’t feel like having a conversation), simply remove yourself from the situation or occupy yourself with something else. That will discourage people from approaching you and you won’t be forced to have shallow conversations.

9. Being surrounded by people.

As a highly sensitive person, you may feel drained in situations where you’re surrounded by too many people. This is because you absorb too many emotions and conversations all at once — and that overwhelms you.

In such situations, simply get away from the crowd and ground yourself before you regroup. HSPs need their precious alone time to regain energy, and that’s okay.

Be selfish about your self-care and remove yourself from overwhelming situations. And, if you really don’t want to go to crowded places, you can simply say no. (See #1 again!)

Figure Out Which Energy Leaks Affect You Most 

Being a highly sensitive person can be overwhelming and draining at times, but if you identify your energy leaks, you can stop them.

Go through the list of energy leaks above and find common things that are draining your energy. Once you identify them, take steps to close those leaks or avoid those situations altogether.

Here’s hoping this will give you some much-needed peace of mind. That’s all any of us can hope for!

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