This was the central question for my PhD research. So to help answer this main question, I did two studies: I conducted an online survey, then did twelve in-depth interviews with people who scored high on sensitivity, and also scored high on wellbeing. The findings from the first study have been written up and are awaiting peer review with a research journal, and when it is published you will be the first to hear about it here!
Data from the second (interviews) study has also been written up and is awaiting peer review, but a preprint version of the paper is available here.
In my research interviews, I asked twelve highly sensitive people about their perceptions of wellbeing, e.g., what does wellbeing look like, feel like, etc. and this is what people shared with me:
- A sense of balance/harmony between wellbeing dimensions is important, e.g., harmonising and balancing among physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, and hobbies
- Low-intensity positive emotions, such as feeling contented, calm, peaceful, are more important for HSPs than high-energy positive emotions (like feeling exuberant, excited, joyful, pumped)
- Having self-awareness and self-acceptance are also key aspects of wellbeing, e.g., knowing yourself and your individual needs
I also asked them about what helps to support and maintain their wellbeing:
- Having regular periods of solitude (usually daily) was very important for all the people interviewed
- Connecting with nature was also important, in particular, being amongst trees
- Having loving, supportive relationships (balanced with times of solitude)
- Meditative and/or mindfulness practice
- Emotional self-regulation
- Practising self-compassion (treating yourself like you would treat a best friend or loved one)
- Having a sense of meaning in life
- Having a hopeful/optimistic outlook on life
Some of the things that challenged HSP’s wellbeing were:
- Physical health issues
- Being able to say “no” to requests on their time
I imagine that some of you may be nodding your head in agreement as you read this? Please let me know via a quick email if you agree or if there is something else that helps support your wellbeing…I’d love to hear from you!
As a highly sensitive person, it’s important to learn about and understand your own responses to different things, and to develop your personal self-care routine or plan that works just for you. If you want to learn more about the personality trait of high sensitivity (the more technical term is Sensory Processing Sensitivity) you can read more here.
It is my fervent wish that my research can help you – as a highly sensitive person – (and other HSPs) to nurture and value your wellbeing, enabling you to flourish and thrive!
All the best,