Remember that one time when were at a party having a great time, the music, the snacks, and your favourite people? Then suddenly, someone said something that hit you the wrong way and threw you off. Maybe it was a comment about your personality or a snarky remark about your taste in music. Suddenly, your mood became bitter and you were left feeling anxious and upset.
Trust us, we’ve all been there. Sensitive behaviour can take many forms and shapes- from snarky comments to more upfront insults. It may appear innocent and harmless at first but it can have an impact on our mental health. That is exactly why we’re here! Let’s discuss sensitive behaviour and its impact on mental health.
Being sensitive is a quality that many people have and there is nothing wrong about it. However, sensitivity can create difficulties in real-world scenarios when awkward social situations cause an exaggerated reaction and hurt. While therapy may be helpful in those situations, here are some typical warning signs which suggest that you may be sensitive:
- You are highly aware of your emotions: Sensitive people frequently have keen emotional awareness and may feel their emotions more strongly than others. You can be easily moved to tears or experience intense emotional impact from other people.
- You have intense empathy: People who are sensitive often have a high level of empathy, which means they are able to understand and experience other people’s feelings. You might discover that you are perceptive to other people’s needs and that you tend to adopt their emotions.
- You get overwhelmed easily: People with sensitive personalities may feel overwhelmed in circumstances that others find normal and manageable. For instance, you can experience overwhelming feelings in noisy or crowded spaces or you might be easily overstimulated by sensory input like bright lights or loud noises.
- You pay close attention to details: Sensitive people may be acutely aware of details that others might miss. You might be perceptive and pick up on minute information that others might miss.
- You are creative: Many creative people who are also sensitive people may find creative pursuits like music or art to be especially rewarding.
While some people can have a sensitive nature, HSPs (Highly Sensitive Person) have heightened sensitivity that goes above and beyond what is seen as typical. A lack of parental affection throughout childhood, according to studies, may cause a child to grow up sensitive and carry that sensitivity into adulthood. The same is true of unpleasant early experiences. You might have a higher chance of developing into an HSP as an adult if you were exposed to trauma as a child. Having HSP characteristics is not a disorder but rather a certain way of seeing the world. Although sensitivity can be a good quality it can also lead to negative consequences if not managed properly.
Sensitive behaviour may have the following effects on mental health:
- Increased susceptibility to stress and anxiety: Due to their extreme emotional reactions, sensitive people may be more susceptible to stress. This may have more chances of developing anxiety disorders and cause feelings of exhaustion and overload.
- Difficulty setting boundaries: A study found that individuals with high sensitivity tended to have lower levels of assertiveness, which can make it more difficult to set and enforce boundaries. This can impact relationships and may lead to a pattern of people-pleasing.
- Increased risk of depression: Depression is more likely to strike sensitive people because of their heightened emotional reactivity. This may be especially true if trauma or other painful life events are present in addition to sensitivity.
- Risk of physical health issues is increased: Research suggests that if you are sensitive then you are also more likely to experience the physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches and muscular aches.
However, sensitivity can also work as an advantage to mental health. Sensitive individuals are said to be mindful of their own as well as others’ needs. This can led to deeper personal connections and increased empathy. Also, they could be more likely to practice self-care.
Wondering how to cope with it? One can consider practising mindfulness. Mindfulness means being present and conscious of the time at hand and accepting your thoughts and feelings. For those with sensitive personalities, this can be useful. It can help to reduce the signs of anxiety. You can also work on establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Sensitive people can better control their emotional outbursts and prevent fatigue by learning to establish and uphold appropriate limits. Saying “no” to requests or commitments that feel overwhelming may be necessary, as well as being upfront with others about your needs and limitations. Start participating in self-care activities like exercise, meditation, and creative expression, this can assist sensitive people in managing stress and preserving their mental health. Regular exercise has been found in studies to lessen the effects of anxiety.
It may be beneficial to seek care from a mental health professional if sensitive behaviour is interfering with daily life and functioning. Therapy can offer a secure environment to address challenging emotions and can teach coping mechanisms for handling sensitivity. We need to understand that sensitivity is a spectrum, and everyone experiences it differently.