How to Handle Work Stress as an HSP

by | May 1, 2023 | Adulting, Anxiety, Counseling, Highly Sensitive People (HSP), Stress

How to Handle Work Stress as an HSP

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Do you ever find yourself feeling drained and depleted after a day at work? We have all had those days, but for a highly sensitive person, or HSP, this can, unfortunately, feel like a norm. As an HSP, you may be more attuned to the energy and emotions of those around you, making it harder to cope with stressful situations or triggers at your place of work. Perhaps the workload is getting overwhelming, you have trouble organizing your tasks, or you work in a particularly loud and distracting place. But, don’t worry—there are many strategies and tips you can use to manage work stress and excel in your career as a highly sensitive person. This blog will explore some tips that are tailored specifically to the needs of highly sensitive individuals, so you can feel empowered to take on any challenge and achieve success on your own terms.

What is a Highly Sensitive Person? 

A highly sensitive person is someone who experiences the world in a deeper, more intense way than others. Being an HSP is common— they make up about 15-20% of the population and have a unique sensitivity to physical, emotional, and social stimuli. There should be no shame in being an HSP, as they have a lot of amazing qualities! However, dealing with stressful stimuli as an HSP can be particularly difficult. 

This sensitivity can manifest in a variety of ways, such as feeling overwhelmed in crowded or noisy environments, having strong emotional reactions to movies or music, or being deeply affected by other people’s moods or energies. Highly sensitive people may also be more empathetic, intuitive, and creative than others, and they may have a deep appreciation for beauty and nature. However, this sensitivity can also make them more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and overstimulation, particularly in high-pressure or fast-paced environments like the workplace.

HSP Tips for Handling Work Stress: 

As a highly sensitive person, work stress can feel overwhelming and all-consuming. The constant demands and pressure to perform can take a toll on your mental and physical health before you know it. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone in this struggle and that there are ways to manage and handle work stress effectively. Here are some to try out!

1. Take your work breaks in nature, instead of in the break room.

Highly sensitive people are often deeply affected by their environment, and spending time in nature can be a great way to recharge and reduce stress. This can also increase mindfulness and help you feel present during times in which you may feel overwhelmed. The next time you have a break at work, try taking a short walk outside or find a nearby park where you can spend some time in nature. Even just going outside for a few breaths of fresh air can help calm your nervous system. And, now that it’s Spring, you’ll want to take in all the sunshine you can get anyways!

2. Use noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.

Noise-canceling headphones and earplugs are an HSP’s best friend. Loud or distracting noises can be overwhelming for highly sensitive people, so investing in a good pair of headphones or earplugs can be a game changer. This can help you create a more peaceful and calm work environment, even in a busy office setting. Feel free to use them as is and simply block-out outside sounds, or you can even play some soft calming music to help ground you. 

3. Create a calming work environment.

Of course, if you are working in a communal office, it may be hard to change the joint space and make it more calming. However, there are small things you can do (that will most likely be okay with your coworkers/boss) that can make the environment feel more tranquil. For example, adding plants to your workspace is a great way to incorporate a calming essence, as well as add nature to your indoor office. And, if you work from home, you have the liberty to do whatever you like. Try adding an essential oil diffuser to your workspace, playing white noise on a white noise maker, or playing calming music out loud. Experiment with different strategies to find what works best for you. Something that has worked for many HSPs is creating an environment with low lighting, eye masks, and calming music/noise to help them wind down after a particularly stressful meeting or workday. 

4. Use positive affirmations when you feel unconfident

It’s easy to get down on yourself for being highly sensitive, especially if you have a habit of comparing yourself to other coworkers who are successfully completing their tasks. Positive affirmations can be helpful for building confidence and motivation. Try repeating phrases like “I am capable and competent” or “I am strong and resilient” at the start of each workday to help boost your morale and reduce feelings of overwhelm.

5. Find a supportive work environment or reconsider your job.

Finding a work environment that is supportive of your needs as a highly sensitive person can be key to managing work stress. This may mean finding a job that allows for more flexibility or autonomy, or working with a manager who understands and respects your needs. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and seek out a work environment that is more conducive to your well-being. Although it’s not ideal to switch jobs, it may be worth it for your mental health in the long run. Check out this book to learn more about the best types of jobs for HSPs! 

Remember that everyone experiences stress at work from time to time, but as a highly sensitive person, it’s important to prioritize your well-being and find strategies that work for you. By taking care of yourself, communicating effectively, and finding a supportive work environment, you can manage work stress more effectively and find greater balance and fulfillment in your career. 

To discuss how therapy could help you during this season of your life, please contact me or schedule your free 15 minute consultation.

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