A Holistic View of the “Highly Sensitive Person”

There is this new mental health diagnosis (it’s not officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) going around called the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). I’d like to present a holistic view of the “Highly Sensitive Person” here because I am hearing things about this spread by “experts” that are simply not true and prolong suffering. First, let me explain the symptoms of HSP.

HSPSymptoms of a Highly Sensitive Person

  • you’re more sensitive than the average person to sound, light, smells, and emotions
  • you’re very aware of subtleties in the environment
  • you’re emotionally reactive
  • you can have strong reactions to movies, not eating, not sleeping, and other people’s moods
  • you can be very sensitive to pain
  • making decisions is not easy
  • when overwhelmed by stimulus, you need to take a time out – like spending time in bed, going into a dark room, or finding a place of privacy and refuge
  • food and drinks can have a strong effect on you, like coffee, alcohol or sugar
  • you have a complex, rich inner life
  • you are deeply moved by movies, books, music, or art
  • you’re conscientious
  • you startle easily
  • having a lot to do in a little time is overwhelming
  • you put a lot of effort into avoiding mistakes or forgetting things
  • you make a point of avoiding violence, such as in movies or sporting events
  • you make a point of avoiding overstimulating places like concerts, crowded areas, and rush hour traffic
  • you make a point of avoiding overstimulating people like those who are loud or emotionally wounded
  • if you wait too long to eat, the results can be dramatic for you and those around you
  • you avoid change as it shakes up your life in ways that become overwhelming
  • being observed or watched creates a drop in performance and self-consciousness
  • when you were a child, others saw you as shy or sensitive

highly sensitive peopleMyths about Highly Sensitive People (HPS)

MYTH– HSP is a real thing.

TRUTH– The symptoms of HSP are related to ADD/ADHD, concussion, poor nutrition, heavy metal toxicity, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Autism, poor diet, and central nervous system dysregulation. As with all dis-eases, the basic cause is imbalance and an unhealthy lifestyle. If you rebalance the mind, body, and spirit (in this case, it’s primarily physical unless PTSD is a factor), the symptoms will go away.

MYTH– HSP is genetic.

TRUTH– These symptoms show up in families because of epigenetics. Epigenetics is basically cellular environment. Genes are traits. They create possibilities. The cellular environment is what allows certain genes to express while other genes are suppressed. Identical twins don’t always have the same diseases even though they have the same genes. Lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, social, spirituality, etc) creates cellular environment. If genetics were a certainty, twins would have identical diseases. It’s lifestyle that makes the difference.

If a mother has heavy metal toxicity while pregnant, she passes that toxicity on to her babies. They are born toxic. Sometimes, as with congenital lead toxicity, the effects are irreversible because it impacts development. Other times (as with lead toxicity that comes after childhood) the effects can be reversed by changing the environment. So, a change in lifestyle (detox) can manage or clear up these symptoms. This is why the experts recommend things like getting enough sleep and eating a clean diet.

MYTH– You’re born with HSP.

TRUTH– The symptoms of HSP can occur at any age. A blow to the head can create these symptoms at age 10 or 50. Exposure to toxins at age 15 can create the onset of HSP symptoms. A lifetime of a poor diet can create symptoms at any age. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be born with it.  I am just saying that the symptoms can appear at any time.

MYTH– HSP is a sign of a spiritually evolved person.

TRUTH– Many people prefer to accept these symptoms because they make life more intense. They like feeling alive. They also like the belief that this means they are more spiritual than others. People are holistic creatures. We are grounded in the physical. If your body is not well, you can’t be grounded. You can’t live in the world with competence because you are expending too much energy just trying to stay grounded and manage your stimulus. It’s incredibly taxing to live with that level of stress every day. While this level of sensitivity can make you more aware of spirituality, it’s not a sign of spirituality. It’s a sign of imbalance.

MYTH- HSP is normal.

TRUTH– HSP is common. It impacts somewhere between 10 and 20% of the population. High blood pressure and diabetes are also common, but I doubt anyone would accept them as conditions that don’t require treatment simply because of the high incidence of it in the general population.

highly sensitive peopleHow to Treat HSP

I’ve seen some experts who say that HSP is normal and doesn’t require treatment. It requires understanding and respect. For those of you who find the symptoms unbearable and would like to feel more grounded, there is a way.

  1. Clean up your diet and stay well hydrated. Junk food, sugar, processed food, GMOs have an effect. You really are what you eat. These poisons make your brain and body hurt.
  2. Reduce stimulus producing drinks like those containing caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
  3. Practice good sleep hygiene to give yourself the best chance to have a great night sleep every night.
  4. If you want to go the medication route, take it as prescribed.
  5. Do some sort of light exercise every day. The body needs to move.
  6. Engage in your spirituality.
  7. Spend face-to-face time with people you love. Social connections are an underestimated part of a healthy life.
  8. Reduce stimulation from the electromagnetic field (microwave, wifi, television, computers, etc).
  9. Get a hair test to find out what your mineral and heavy metal levels are. Then remineralize and detox properly. If your supplementation is not based on your body chemistry, it will only further unbalance you.
  10. If you have a trauma history, treat the trauma. This is a root cause! Coping skills and understanding the problem can take the edge off, but you can’t be a fully functional person if the trauma is still activated.
  11. If you think ADD/ADHD is the problem, do neurofeedback. It resets the brain so that it can function properly.
  12. If you have had a blow to the head, ANY blow to the head – even if it was ten years ago, rule out head trauma. The impact of head trauma can be overcome with neurofeedback. Neurofeedback can also help improve the symptoms of Autism because it is not disease specific. It simply helps the brain to become more functional so that everything the brain control works more efficiently.
  13. If you are simply too overwhelmed to do anything to help yourself, BEMER is a fabulous option. It can help get you to a place where you can begin to help yourself.

If you’re in the Richmond area and you’d like to explore your options and start on a road to a more balanced, less stimulated, less painful life, contact Laura Giles today for an appointment.

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