High Sensation Seeking HSPs

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Some highly sensitive people (HSPs) also have the trait of being a high sensation seeker (HSS) and this experience can be a bit like having a foot on the gas and brake at the same time. There can be advantages and disadvantages to this. Being an HSS may mean we like to have new and different experiences, but being an HSP means we might also feel overwhelmed by them. Elaine Aron, the pioneer to researching and discovering our trait, has created a self-test for both traits and I provide the links on my HSP Resources page.

In my work with HSPs, I’ve seen that those that also have the HSS trait need to balance both parts carefully. Part of us needs to be home to restore, but if we stay home too long, we can get bored or restless. I’ve found that finding a way to feed both parts of us seems to keep us most in balance. I’ve seen that if someone is an HSS and they are not feeding that part of themselves they can feel like their internal light is starting to go out and it can even feel similar to depression. To keep that light bright, we need to find ways that feed the sensation seeking part of ourselves, while at the same time supporting the needs of being sensitive. As an HSP/HSS, I work on this balance myself and can share some ideas that I have seen work.

One thing that works for me is that I try to plan in new activities every month. So, for example, I might want to attend a concert of a favorite musician or take a weekend getaway to Las Vegas and take in some shows, or I might even like to explore a small seaside town I’ve never been to before. I might even get the HSS side of me fed by going to a new restaurant and trying new foods I’ve never had before. But to balance my sensitive needs, I need to plan this all out.

My partner and I recently went on a weekend trip to Las Vegas and enjoyed a Cirque du Soleil show. That experience fed my high sensation seeking side, but I also had to be mindful of my highly sensitive needs. Because I knew that travel itself would be tiring for me I make accommodations for these needs. I recommend the following:

  • Plan a quiet day before and after a busy event. So when I go to an event, I go with a full tank of energy and I am not starting depleted. I also give myself a full day of rest after a busy weekend so that I can recover and restore.

  • Sit near the window on a plane so you can look out and not feel so surrounded by people.

  • Use earplugs on the plane, during big events, or anytime you need a little less stimulation.

  • Show up early with lots of time to check in so you don’t feel frazzled and can take your time.

  • Have water and snacks to keep you hydrated and your blood sugar stabilized.

  • When planning to attend seated events try to go early and get comfortable before the crowd shows up and also try to choose an aisle seat or next to a wall whenever possible at events that have a lot of people. If you can prevent the 360 degrees of stimulation, it helps.

  • Whenever possible, try to stay in the same hotel as your event so you can rest in the room during breaks or downtime.

  • Try not to pack in too many activities and instead prioritize which one is most important to you.

Create a template for what works. Pay attention to what didn't work and what works so you can make it better next time. For example, I like to add in quiet, restorative nature time in between high activity time.

If you take care to feed and support your needs you can find balance. Sometimes it takes time to create a template that works. One thing to keep in mind is to use a system that honors your needs and stay away from comparing yourself to others. Do what works for you. You will have different needs, and that’s ok. You are a package deal. We all are. Learning to accept who you are is also important, or you might waste a lot of brain space on being hard on yourself. Instead, use that energy on being creative to feed all sides of yourself and your needs. When we align with and honor our own needs, we can live in balance and feel harmony.

For more tips to support your sensitive system, you may enjoy the book, The Empowered Highly Sensitive Person and the online brain-training course for HSPs.

~Julie Bjelland is a psychotherapist, global HSP consultant, author of several books, an expert in the field of high sensitivity who has helped thousands of highly sensitive people around the world. As an HSP herself, and mother of highly sensitive children, Julie understands what it is like to live with high sensitivity and strong emotions. Her mission is to spread awareness and education of the trait and to help HSPs reduce the challenges so they can access their many gifts! Julie invites you to explore her website that is full of HSP resources: www.juliebjelland.com.

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