14 challenges highly sensitive people have to overcome every day

Every day is full of opportunities and challenges.

You never quite know what you’re going to get with each new sunrise!

But for highly sensitive people (HSP), there are a whole set of unique challenges that they have to face on a daily basis. 

Understanding these challenges will help you understand your HSP friends, family and coworkers; 

If you’re an HSP yourself, this article also includes tips for how to face these difficulties and lessen their negative impact. 

1) Noise 

Life’s not meant to be one big Mötley Crüe concert and I don’t know anyone who likes loud noises around them like construction and horns. 

But for HSPs this dislike is at a more intense, primal level.

Loud noises throw them into intense agitation, cause headaches and contribute to anxiety, irritability and exhaustion.

Tip: wear noise-canceling headphones in loud situations or earplugs when possible. 

2) Driving stress

The stress of driving through heavy traffic is intense for the HSP. 

It’s like navigating a maze of stress, anger, confusion and chaos. 

Even relatively stable, predictable traffic is a nightmare for the HSP. The sounds and chaos of a crowded subway or streetcar aren’t much better, to say the least.

Tip: take Uber if possible and put on calming music. If you have to drive or take public transport, have a calming mantra and listen to music that steadies your nerves.

3) Anxiety attacks

Even if they aren’t diagnosed with anxiety disorder or panic disorder, HSPs are very prone to anxiety attacks throughout the day. 

Whereas being stuck a bit longer in an elevator or listening to a man yell in a restaurant are just an annoyance to most of us, they’re a highly agitating experience for an HSP. 

Tip: Keep some ativan on you and cultivate a sense of control within yourself that can’t be easily disturbed by outer disruptions. 

4) Vertigo and physical exhaustion

HSPs often get a bit dizzy and physically exhausted from the toil and turmoil of the day. 

This is often interpreted as being “soft” or spoiled, but when you’re taking in much more intense impressions on a sensory and psychological level, it’s not soft at all. 

It’s just the side effect of being a highly perceptive and sensitive individual.

Tip: Keep pepto bismal and some aspirin in your purse or wallet and make sure to take a short break if you get dizzy or feel like you might faint.

5) Strong reactions to smell

We’re all more sensitive to smell than we realize, and our olfactory nerve is tied to memory, desire, fear and hunger. 

But for the HSP, smells hit them like a wave, especially strong smells of a new building, person, place or crowded locale. 

When an HSP really complains about a smell, they’re not trying to be spoiled or get attention, it’s truly bothering them. 

Tip: Keep some essential oils with you to offset strong smells that bother you and be prepared to leave a place (if possible) if the smells in it are impacting you strongly.

6) Difficulty multitasking 

Multitasking is a necessity many times throughout the day, and handling more than one task at once is just a reality of life. 

Sometimes you’re cleaning the dishes but you also get an urgent call from your boss or a family member that you have to respond to. 

For an HSP this is really hard to deal with, and the more multitasking they have to do the more confused and overwhelmed they get.

Tip: Try to ask for linear tasks at work and let your boss know you work better with less multitasking. Also inform those close to you.

7) Notifications and interruptions 

The sound of a ringtone for an incoming message, people who interrupt and random disruptions are another fact of life. 

They’re also highly agitating for an HSP. 

Popups everywhere, new tabs, incoming calls, social media notifications: 

It’s a mess!

It’s like as soon as they find their footing there’s suddenly a new problem to deal with.

Tip: Turn off your notifications except for emergencies and avoid opening too many tabs on your computer whether at work or at home. 

8) Clutter and disorganization 

Clutter and disorganization is very hard for HSPs to deal with. 

They find it overwhelming and find it hard to sift through big piles of things and figuring out what to do about it. 

This goes on the literal level such as many files or items, but also on the emotional level, where very strong emotions and personalities around them can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

Tip: Let people know your boundaries and keep your own space and what’s in your control as organized as possible. 

9) People clamoring for their attention 

When somebody at work or in their personal life is clamoring for attention, the HSP feels overwhelmed. 

It can be stressful for any of us when somebody wants something from us, but for an HSP it feels like being pulled in different directions. 

This can lead to getting very flustered and upset which can look like an overreaction to others who may be asking for fairly straightforward requests.

Tip: Use a service like Calendly to have people book times to speak with you and don’t be afraid to say no or not answer a message or request right away when you’re busy. 

10) Expectations of others 

It can be a lot of pressure dealing with the expectations of others, especially those close to us such as romantic partners, parents and work colleagues. 

For an HSP, people’s expectations can feel like an emotional vice-grip. 

The anxiety and guilt they feel when they fall short of people’s expectations or misunderstand what others want can be truly intense.

Tip: Don’t let the expectations of others run your life. It’s your life, your time and your goals which are most important. 

11) Overthinking everything

Every day the HSP is swamped by unwelcome thoughts and overanalysis. 

They are also highly prone to being genuinely hurt by criticism or negative feedback from others. 

This overthinking is a daily struggle and can be very hard to overcome.

Tip: Do at least half an hour of exercise per day and make sure you are hydrating and eating well. 

12) Annoying people 

None of us like annoying people, but HSPs can’t stand them. 

Those with highly shrill or barking voices…

Those who tell obnoxious jokes all the time or have strong odors on them when they walk in…

Those who are selfish and manipulative of others. 

The HSP is highly perceptive and notices right away when somebody’s being a jerk, and they find it very hard to take.

Tip: Try to limit contact with toxic people in your life. 

13) A feeling of exclusion

HSPs are drawn to beauty and subtlety. They are often deep thinkers who are introspective and reserved. 

Granted, there are many extroverted HSPs as well, but they tend to be introverted. 

This can lead to a feeling of exclusion. Even though others may not intend for it to be this way, the HSP can feel like nobody really “gets them” beyond a surface level.

This can make it lonely getting through the day and keeping a positive attitude. 

Tip: Do your best to find your purpose and find your tribe. Even if it’s small or just one or two friends, it helps to know that you belong and you’re welcome.

14) The emotional impact of bad news

When there’s bad news on the screen, a rumor of layoffs or somebody’s going through a hard time, I think we all feel down about it. 

The HSP tends to feel overwhelmed. 

HSPs are often empaths and feel the pain of others. Seeing an awful crash on the news or hearing about the divorce of a colleague can bring them down in a way that’s truly hard to deal with.

Tip: Avoid getting too involved in the traumas of others even if you want to help. Respect your need for space and time to recharge, and avoid very negative news and social media cycles. 

The HSP experience

HSPs face a unique set of challenges in their daily life that many of the rest of us don’t struggle with at the same level.

The pointers above offer insight into your HSP loved ones and colleagues. 

Knowing a bit more of how they experience the world will help you help them, which will lead to better personal and professional relationships

If you’re an HSP take a look at the tips above and begin implementing them in your life. 

You’re far from alone, around 30% of the adult population is an HSP!


There’s nothing wrong with you and being an HSP is actually a sign of fine-tuned evolutionary success! 

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