Highly Sensitive Refuge
An overstimulated highly sensitive person

‘Normal’ Things That Overstimulate Me as a Highly Sensitive Person

Highly sensitive people notice even the subtlest details — which can make “normal” things feel like way too much.

I’m of the opinion that there is really no such thing as “normal.” There are so many different realities, perspectives, viewpoints, and experiences that the idea that there is just one streamlined way of seeing and doing things is not realistic. The diversity in the world is a beautiful and freeing thing, and it should be celebrated as much as possible. 

That said, humans need ways to compartmentalize the world. Part of that compartmentalization happens with things that are generally understood to be “normal” and “not normal.” While we could spend all day debating about each of those categories and what “should” go into them, here are just a few “normal” things in society that drive me up the wall as a highly sensitive person. They’re overstimulating, to say the least, and you can see if you agree.

3 ‘Normal’ Things That Overstimulate Me as a Highly Sensitive Person

1. Jewelry: Necklaces? Bracelets? Nope.

I’m a ‘90s kid, which means that I grew up in the era of accessories — glittery hair clips, snap bracelets, and candy necklaces. If someone could figure out a way to fashion just about anything into something you wear on a string, then it was probably manufactured and sold in the ‘90s. And I remember several friends having piles of this stuff at any given time. It was traded during classes, given as gifts, and used as a 10-year old’s version of money. I had piles of the stuff, too, just to avoid feeling left out or “weird.” But I never could wear it. 

You see, while most people can throw on a bracelet or necklace and instantly forget about it, I never forget it’s there. For the entire time it’s sitting against my skin, I am aware of it. The “set it and forget it” does not work for me. Have you ever had a fly buzzing around your head and, try as you might to ignore it so you can focus, it will drive you so crazy that you just have to swat it away before you can focus? It’s kind of like that for us highly sensitive folks.

Nowadays, I have a few more classic pieces of jewelry that compliment the business casual outfit that I wear to work. I mostly own jewelry now because, to be honest, I just feel plain weird not owning any at all; plus, I have a couple of family heirloom pieces. 

And on the very rare days that I feel brave and decide to wear a piece, I am ready to throw it off by the end of the day. The only piece of jewelry that I can wear long-term is my wedding ring, and only because it meant so much to me that I forced myself to get comfortable with it. It took me about a year of wearing it before I finally became familiar enough with it being on my finger that it didn’t bother me.

Like what you’re reading? Get our newsletter just for HSPs. One email, every Friday. Click here to subscribe!

2. Certain types of clothing — if it’s not cotton, forget it.

I always tell people, as firmly and politely as possible, to please not buy me clothes. I’m so ridiculously picky that it’s just easier for me to shop for myself. And it’s not because I’m trying to be difficult or ungrateful, and it’s definitely not because I’m some discerning fashionista. I know next to nothing about fashion or trends, but I do know the type of clothing that I can actually stand to wear. 

The first thing I can’t wear is almost any fabric other than pure cotton. Silk or satin is slippery and rubs too much. Polyester tends to stick to my skin. Wool is scratchy. Cashmere is too soft. Much like the jewelry, as an HSP, I am constantly aware of how these fabrics are touching my skin. If I wear something like that, I will literally be squirming and messing with my shirt all day long. I need something that sits lightly on my skin, but not too much. Organic cotton gets the job done nicely.

Additionally, I hate wearing anything with bright colors or bold patterns. Even just a solid color shirt can be too overwhelming. Unfortunately, I’m not someone who can look at a nice print, just appreciate it for what it is, and then move on. My brain zeroes in on it just as it zeroes in on many tiny details non-HSPs don’t necessarily see. 

Recently, while I was going through some clothes and asking my husband (who is exactly like me) for opinions on what to keep, I held up a blue-and-white-striped shirt. He said, “No, you have to get rid of that, it makes me dizzy.” Much like me, he only wears certain fabrics and colors, because anything else is just too much.

3. Clutter and material items. Less is more, thank you!

In the age of minimalism, we all know by now that we buy and own too much stuff — and that needs to change. We are all guilty of this to some degree. There are hundreds (probably thousands, or more) of videos and articles out there teaching us how to declutter and actually organize the stuff that we have. As an introvert, too, a clutter-free environment is important.

But I’m not talking about the normal clutter that we all accumulate over time. I’m talking about the smallest, most innocuous things. Say, for instance, I accidentally leave my toothbrush sitting on the sink instead of putting it back in the holder one morning. I will spend the rest of the day thinking about that toothbrush, and it will bug me until it goes back in the holder. I know you may think, Seriously? It’s not like you left the oven on. Your toothbrush isn’t going to hurt anything. No, it’s not, but my brain remembers things as they are “supposed to” be, and if something is “off” in any way, then it’s like a little alarm bell goes off in my head until it is corrected. After all, HSPs love routines, rituals, and consistency.

I remember spending years thinking that something was wrong with me. Was my brain just wired wrong? Did something break inside me? This is weird, right? I got into reading and writing about this because I wanted to know that other people dealt with these things, too, like fellow HSPs. We may be a different breed from mainstream society, but I’ve learned there is absolutely nothing wrong with me or anyone else like me.

Want to get one-on-one help from a trained therapist? We’ve personally used and recommend BetterHelp for therapy with real benefits for HSPs. It’s private, affordable, and takes place online. As an HSR reader, you get 10% off your first month. Click here to learn more.

We receive compensation from BetterHelp when you use our referral link. We only recommend products when we believe in them.

You might like:

Join the HSP Revolution. One email, every Friday. Our best posts.