So – you’re an HSP and have overstimulation issues?

It’s a huge challenge trying to handle it.

I am sure that it always has been but in our current culture where ridiculous amounts of stimulation are considered normal, it is particularly difficult to handle overstimulation for HSP’s.

The Problem Of Overstimulation For HSP’s

Because of their sensitive nervous systems, highly sensitive people pick up on all kinds of nuanced subtle energy going on around them. The most minute ripple of energy penetrates their awareness and takes a place in the consciousness of an HSP.

In our fast-paced world, small awarenesses can build up and clog an HSP’s nervous system and mind. The resulting overstimulation is an important factor for HSP functioning and quality of life.

Highly sensitive people need to process every bit of information they receive. Not to do so feels wrong to many HSP’s and also take them out of their integrity. So what happens when each day the amount of information a person receives is overwhelming like an oncoming rush of water that never stops?

Handling Overstimulation And Locus Of Control

There are essentially two options for handling the overstimulation:

  • take time to process the information immediately
  • take in the information and process it later.

Each option has pitfalls.

Because highly sensitive people consider all information carefully, they are inevitably slower in their responses to stimulus. A highly sensitive person takes the information in like a sponge takes in water. HSPs usually don’t like to lash out in a reactive way; they prefer to take in, sort out and respond to information. The HSP approach and response to events is ideally a contemplative rather than a reactive one.

All of this takes time. Pressure to be fast can actually slow down a highly sensitive person since that pressure is just more stimulus that they have to handle and only increases the overstimulation.

Unfortunately, a wonderfully thoughtful way of doing things can put an HSP at a disadvantage. Why? Because in a fast-paced world, speed is often more highly valued than thoughtfulness. What this means is that that the center of gravity and benefits of this world usually go to the fast, not the meticulous. The meticulous may end up cleaning up after the fast as HSPs often find out.

It is important for highly sensitive people to recognize that a time-based society like our consumer society has an external, time-based locus of control. When HSPs are able to slow down and go at their own pace they have an internal locus of control, so they are at odds with the culture. If a sensitive person tries to go at the pace around them when it is too fast, they can lose their internal locus of control which may cause them to go along when they are uncomfortable doing so. The culture will continually try to make people conform, but to do so may bring out the worst in a sensitive person.

Meditation, stress handling techniques and other health-enhancing habits can help an HSP maintain an intelligent relationship between their natural internal locus of control and the opposite demands of their culture. Highly sensitive people can help themselves a lot by seeking health and stress management tools to buffer an aggressive culture. It also helps to find work that can be adapted to the sensitive nature. When both health and work strategies come together, a sensitive person can feel balanced and productive.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Jamie Reith on June 6, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    I have returned to teaching 7th grade after a 12-year hiatus to raise my children. I have developed anxiety with depersonalization/derealization because of the overwhelming stimulation from 3 classes of 36 7th graders and then going home to my 3 grade-school age children. My brain chemistry has been altered, and I wonder if my brain will return to normal once I make some career changes (I’m moving from full-time teaching to part-time teaching).

    • Maria Hill on June 7, 2015 at 8:07 am

      Hi Jamie,

      Your job sounds very stressful and from what I hear many teachers struggle with the demands of our current educational system. I am sure that transitioning to a part time position will be helpful for you in trying to balance the work demands with your need for self care. I do not know how long you have been feeling poorly so I do not have insight into what your expectations can be. Perhaps you need to up the amount of self care you give yourself: meditation, rest breaks, listening to soothing music – I find that new age music destresses me – etc.

      I hope I have helped,

  2. light tiptoe on October 11, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    ” All of this takes time. Pressure to be fast can actually slow down a highly sensitive person since that pressure is more stimulus that they have to handle and only increases the overstimulation.

    Unfortunately, a wonderfully thoughtful way of doing things can put an HSP at a disadvantage. Why? Because in a fast paced world, speed is often more highly valued than thoughtfulness and aggression over sensitivity. ”

    I’m struggling with this, have struggled with it for a large portion of my life, how gruelling sometimes, like attacks. But what helps me is to read there are others, sometimes it feels like others aren’t like that, which puts even more stress on one. Reading from others who understand, actually understand, is comforting. * almost tears * ūüôā

    • Maria Hill on October 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I apologize for the delay in responding – I wa away. I agree that speed is too highly valued and to the disadvantage of sensitive people. We will be introducing a course that helps with that. If you get on our newsletter list, you will hear about it.

      All the best,