HSPs thrive on depth and thoughtfulness, which can be hard in a frequently rushed and busy world.
“Come on, come one, let’s go, everyone!” As I heard those words, my heart was pounding. There was a lump in my throat. I desperately tried to hide the tears welling up in my eyes from everyone else as I grabbed my coat and purse, running out the door.
This family Christmas trip had been so much fun, but our evening plans had changed suddenly, and we were leaving for dinner sooner than expected. I had been in the middle of getting ready when the energy shifted — and it was time to GO! And it was hard to adjust. Being rushed in this way, when I’m not expecting it, is something that has always been difficult for me.
Even as I’m writing this, my mind tells me it’s silly that something this “small” could upset me so much. But the truth is, I’m at my worst when it feels like I don’t have enough time. Being late for a meeting, rushing to pack for a trip, or feeling pressure from others to go faster than I’m comfortable causes a lot of anxiety. This can cause stress during travel, holidays, and trips where I don’t have much control over the schedule.
In recent years, I’ve learned that being a highly sensitive person (HSP) has a lot to do with feeling overwhelmed in these situations. As an HSP, I need time to prepare for things. To think, to plan, and to do a thorough job. When I don’t have that time or something is sprung on me unexpectedly, I don’t always know how to shift and deal with it.
If you also hate being rushed, you might be a fellow HSP — and here’s why.
Why HSPs Hate Being Rushed
HSPs think and feel deeply — about everything. We would rather take our time and plan well than rush through something. This has a lot to do with what’s known as our “depth of processing” — how we think about information. Research has shown that those with sensory processing sensitivity (the trait that characterizes a highly sensitive person) have a great depth of processing in response to all forms of stimuli.
Depth of processing is what can lead an HSP to spend lots of time planning, thinking, and responding to things around us. We like to deeply concentrate on pieces of information or tasks in our lives. Being rushed interrupts our deeper, often slower state of processing.
This can leave us feeling more stressed or anxious than non-HSPs. It’s also a big reason HSPs hate having busy schedules. Multitasking means dividing our attention between several things at once instead of carefully devoting our full focus to one thing at a time.
For me, I spend a lot of time on small decisions before leaving the house. Which clothes will be most comfortable? (This is actually very important — sensitivity to the texture of clothing is a sign of being an HSP.) What shoes will work best? What will I need to pack in my bag or purse for the entire day? Will I need to bring a snack?
Even when I’m home, I like to take my time on things. I desire slower, more intentional morning routines, work schedules that leave room for creativity and contemplation, and plenty of downtime in the evening. It always surprises me when I’m with someone who can just leave their home and worry about the other details later or can jump from task to task without needing a clear transition.
HSPs need more time to make decisions because we really think through all the options. This ultimately makes us good decision-makers. However, non-HSPs often struggle to understand our need for more time — or why we can struggle with being late even though we care about others’ time.
HSPs also need more time than other people to “recover” from lots of stimuli. Before social interactions, we need stillness to get in the right mindset. That way, we can fully process and be present during time with friends or family. If we are rushed to a social event, for example, there’s less time to mentally prepare for the interaction. We’ll need extra time to transition from feeling rushed and flustered to being in the moment with loved ones.
How to Deal With Being Rushed as an HSP
Here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with being rushed; I hope these lessons help you, too.
1. Recognize that even if things aren’t perfect, it’s okay.
The tips below will help you be ready for rushed moments, but sometimes, you can never fully prepare for the unexpected. And that’s okay.
When I can’t fully control my schedule, I remind myself to adopt an attitude of openness. If I’m traveling with others for the holidays, for example, I try to focus on the fact that I’m with loved ones. If I have to leave without enough time to do my makeup or hair as I want it, that’s not the point of the trip anyway. What will I remember most about this time? Hopefully, being with the people I love. I can go back to my slower, more intentional schedule when I get home.
2. Make a list beforehand.
When I know time pressures are coming up, I take a notepad and make a list of everything I need to do and pack. I even add little boxes to check off things as I finish them.
Having a tangible list in front of you makes it easier to complete what needs to be done. Otherwise, you can get bogged down trying to keep every to-do separate in your head.
For example, if you’re getting ready to leave for a trip, write down each item you need to pack and each task you need to complete. Include each article of clothing you need for each day of your trip, as well as non-clothes or toiletry items like your phone, chargers, and keys. This way, you can plan out every little thing you’ll need without having to consider other factors right before leaving.
3. Try to get ready alone.
Excess stimulation can be incredibly overwhelming for an HSP. When you’re trying to focus on packing or getting ready to leave, try to do it alone or away from lots of noise. For me, even having the TV on or loud music playing makes it hard for me to focus on preparing.
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4. Use your phone timer.
It’s easy to lose track of time when immersed in a task, especially for HSPs. Setting time constraints on a task can prevent you from spending too much time on one thing. Set the timer on your phone for 5, 10, 20 minutes, depending on when you need to leave, and keep it in front of you while you’re getting ready.
If the sound of the timer drives you crazy, try simply using the stopwatch on your phone and watch the time until it reaches your limit.
5. Give yourself more time than you need.
I find that things always take longer than I expect because, as an HSP, I like to complete them fully and thoughtfully. If you can, allow more than enough time per task. Be honest with others, too. If someone asks how long you need to get ready, add 5-10 minutes to your answer.
If you’re in a temporary situation where you don’t have control over time, consider areas where you do have control. For example, it might be best to wake up a little earlier, sacrifice certain areas of your getting ready time, or look for moments of stillness throughout the day to balance things out.
HSPs thrive on depth and thoughtfulness, which can be hard in a frequently rushed and busy world. I wouldn’t change it at all, though, because I think the world can learn a lot from HSPs. Embracing slowness, stillness, and the nuances of life is a gift that more people need in their daily moments.