Are you a highly sensitive person?
Many of my eating disorder clients who identify as a highly sensitive person share that they didn’t feel HEARD or SEEN as a child. They felt out of place and misunderstood.
You might be a HSP if:
1) your INNER world feels more alive and loud than the one you’re living
2) you are extremely perceptive and attuned to others’ likes and dislikes
3) you feel highly anxious or distracted with constant noise, chaos or repetitive sounds (i.e. smacking, pen tapping, etc)
4) criticism of any magnitude can greatly affect your mood and self-talk
5) you are sensitive to the clothes you wear – restrictive clothing bothers you as do seams and tags
6) you struggle when there is time or performance pressure (such as test)
7) you can’t make sense of violence and feel deeply for others experiencing it
8) you are highly aware of your surroundings and environment and very observant with a high attention to detail
A more exhaustive list of 21 Signs That You Are A Highly Sensitive Person can be found here.
Eating Disorder Recovery as a HSP
I didn’t discover I was a highly sensitive person (HSP) until a few years ago. Now that I know I’m a HSP, I understand my emotions better and give myself more grace.
This would have been game changing if I knew this during my eating disorder recovery. Did you know that many highly sensitive people struggle with disordered eating?
3 Tips During Eating Disorder Recovery
1) Embrace who you already are
Accepting who you are is a beautiful process. Don’t try to change who you are. This is exhausting and causes internal conflict.
The eating disorder wants you to be somebody else. It has convinced you that you aren’t good enough the way you are. This is a total lie! Do you know the other ED lies? Familiarize yourself with them here so you’re ready and on the lookout for them.
Being a highly sensitive person is a strength in recovery. The HSP is more in touch with his or her emotions and this is a good thing when it comes to recovery and uncovering how you feel.
2) Learn more about what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person
I recommend reading this book by Elaine N. Aron. The author has a workbook as well.
It will help you make sense of who you are which is entirely comforting. You will feel less alone and see how to use the many strengths that exist within the HSP. The author also touches on eating disorders which I found totally relatable and eye opening.
3) Create a routine for yourself.
Understand that food cravings are a common reaction to upsetting emotions in HSPs. The highly sensitive person often takes an emotional trigger and satiates it with a physical comfort – mostly eating.
Routine can help bring predictability to the uncertainty. It takes practice but many of my HSP clients have found that adding structure prevents them from immediately reacting to a trigger.