How to Learn to Cope if You Are a Highly Sensitive Person

At the outset, being sensitive is a strength, but it can easily be turned into something negative in our society.

Today’s society is characterized by deadlines and time constraints, and places ever increasing demands on the individual, which combined are not a good fit for sensitive individuals. This causes more and more people to be stressed and sick, and increases burnt-out, because the nervous system in sensitive individuals has a lower threshold for activation, and these individuals take in more information from the environment than average.

Do you quickly change from being engaged and lively to being tired, exhausted and vulnerable?

These are typical traits for sensitive people.

Nevertheless, being characterized as either highly sensitive, a highly sensitive person or HSP is not a disease or diagnosis, but rather a description of innate characteristics. Sensitive individuals simply have a more sensitive nervous system than usual. Men and women are equally likely to be characterized as highly sensitive, and adults are as likely to be highly sensitive as children.

Are you easily influenced by what others say and do, and do you sometimes feel as if you are deeply aware of someone else’s feelings?

  • Highly sensitive people are often much more strongly aware of another individual’s state of mind and emotions than average.
  • They can sense the tenor of another individual’s feelings, as if the feelings were their own.
  • Sensitive individuals are very interested in seeing behind people’s everyday exterior selves, and can more easily become emotionally involved.

Highly sensitive people are everywhere

They are found in kindergartens, at schools and in the workplace. Highly sensitive individuals may experience challenges in school, in the family, at work and in personal relationships because of their sensitive nervous systems, and many feel that they are different from others.

1 of 5 is highly sensitive

  • Well-documented studies, including from the United States, show that 15 to 20 percent of the population is highly sensitive.
  • The American psychologist and author Elaine Aron is a pioneer in research on highly sensitive individuals or the “highly sensitive person.”
  • However, the concept itself not new, since several renowned theorists in psychology and related disciplines have discussed sensitivity in different contexts.

Vulnerable and sensitive

The brains of highly sensitive people process information from the senses at a deeper level. That means it takes less information before they begin to produce stress hormones, which can cause them to become over-stimulated and exhausted. The nervous system of the sensitive individual works as it should, but it is more sensitive than in non-sensitive people.

Sensitive for better or worse

  • Highly sensitive people are often naturally open, know themselves well, are flexible in their thinking and have a great understanding of other people. Both for this reason and because many sensitive individuals find it difficult to set limits, others may use them to air complaints and voice strong emotions.
  • Sensitive people are often conscientious and thorough in what they do at work and in their private lives, which can lead them to become exhausted.
  • Many are light, sound or smell sensitive, and many have food intolerances.
  • Highly sensitive individuals are also often creative and talented.

 Learn to cope

Once an individual understands that he or she is sensitive, many feel that other pieces fall into place, and life becomes easier. You cannot be cured of being highly sensitive, but you can learn to cope with life in a good way.

  • If you do not understand yourself and your strengths, you can easily feel more vulnerable than you really are.
  • You may become more self-critical, which can cause your self-image to deteriorate.
  • By learning more about your own sensitivity through reading, attending courses or seeking guidance, you will learn more about yourself and your sensitivity. This will help you to change your life so you can live well as highly sensitive person.

5 Tips for highly sensitive people:

  1. Accept yourself and your sensitivity
  2. Set limits for yourself and others
  3. Find a way to relax that works for you
  4. Listen to what your body tells you
  5. Set aside time to be alone

About the author:
Lian Kirksæther has extensive experience in working with people, and specializes in highly sensitive people as a topic. She has written the book “Sensitiv og Sterk” (Sensitive and Strong), which is now a bestseller in Norway. Read more on her website:

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