Are you highly sensitive to the environment?
Are you highly sensitive to your surroundings? Is someone you know easily affected by physical or social ambience? High sensitivity to the environment can be defined as acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to one’s external (environmental, social) stimuli.
A friend of mine once told me how she was highly sensitive to bright light, loud sounds, crowded places, and even eye-contact in social situations. These challenges not only affected her day-to-day activities but negatively impacted her love life with her romantic partner.
Below are ten signs of high environmental sensitivity, with references from my books: "Are You Highly Sensitive? How to Gain Immunity, Peace, and Self-Mastery" and "How to Communicate Effectively with Highly Sensitive People". While many people may experience some of these signs from time to time, a highly sensitive person will likely “feel too often” and “feel too strong”. Some individuals may be highly sensitive to just one or two stimuli, while others may be strongly affected by more on the list.
1. Feels uncomfortable when exposed to bright lights, loud sounds, or certain strong scents.
2. Startles easily by sudden noises, fast traffic, or other unpleasant surprises.
3. Feels uncomfortable in large public crowds, in a room full of people talking, or with too many things occurring simultaneously.
4. Often feels awkward in group situations (especially with casual acquaintances or relative strangers). Feels uneasy/not being able to be oneself.
5. Often feels upset when watching or reading negative news in the media. Dislikes “shock” entertainment (i.e. intensely scary or violent shows).
6. Often feels unhappy when following people’s posts on social media.
7. Often feels anger or resentment about situations in life or in a society which seems unjust, aggravating or simply annoying.
8. Frequently feels physical symptoms (i.e. stress, headache, or fatigue) when exposed to unpleasant environmental stimuli.
9. Frequently feels emotional symptoms (i.e. discomfort, apprehension, anxiousness, or avoidance) when exposed to unpleasant environmental stimuli.
10. Feels self-conscious in romantically intimate situations. Excessively worry about partner’s approval. Unreasonably afraid of being judged or rejected by a romantic partner.
Again, while some highly sensitive individuals may be acutely affected by just one or two of the traits above, others may be over-stimulated by more on the list.
For many highly sensitive people, the key to managing oversensitivity is to utilize emotional immunity and sensory immunity strategies (see references below), to smartly calm and alleviate over-stimulation. For those who live or work with highly sensitive individuals, effective communication skills are a must to foster positive and constructive relationships.
Ni, Preston. Are You Highly Sensitive? How to Gain Immunity, Peace, and Self-Mastery!. PNCC. (2017)
Ni, Preston. How to Communicate Effectively with Highly Sensitive People. PNCC. (2017)
Aron, E.; Aron, A. Sensory-Processing Sensitivity and its Relation to Introversion and Emotionality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (1997)
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