Why Do Highly Sensitive People Engage in Routines?

Published on: 24 Jul 2015
Why Do Highly Sensitive People Engage in Routines?

Although it may seem boring to the rest of us, highly sensitive people (HSP) tend to thrive when they follow a routine, which is actually a vital part of their survival strategy.

Have you ever noticed that some people need to follow a routine to stay grounded and productive? As baffling as it maybe for the rest of us to understand, a large percentage of our population is comprised of dedicated creatures of habit; they like to know exactly how their day will unravel and strive to stick to the same routine, day in and day out. This is especially true for highly sensitive people (HSP).

According to Elizabeth Bernstein, writing for the Wall Street Journal, a highly sensitive person is “someone who responds more intensely to experiences than the average individual. Experts say HSPs process both positive and negative information more thoroughly, and so they can easily become overwhelmed by stimuli. They are acutely aware of sensations, whether of taste, touch, sound or smell. And they are particularly sensitive to emotions—their own and those of others.”

Bernstein also notes that research studies suggest about 20% of the population perfectly fits into this category, with the condition being equally prevalent across different genders. So, that makes roughly 1 in 5 individuals highly sensitive to positive and negative stimuli.

Why Do Highly Sensitive People Engage in Routines?

When someone is highly sensitive, the person can become easily overwhelmed by the world around them – unexpected changes to established plans, or even something as simple as a surprise party can be too much to handle. To combat the chaos of contemporary society, they strive to make their world as predictable (read: comfortable) as possible.

Sticking to a routine or a detailed schedule is one of the ways highly sensitive people can feel like they have some control over the world around them. It provides them with a buffer between what they can and cannot regulate – which is soothing to their highly responsive nervous system. Because highly sensitive people have a rich inner world, they strive to protect it from outside world.

So, if you think you may be a highly sensitive person, your first priority should be figuring out what grounds you. Kathryn Nulf, a writer for Elephant Journal, suggests trying the following tips:

  1. Drink a hot cup of tea each morning while reading a book
  2. Walk your dog (or any walkable pet) through your favorite park
  3. Listen to music you love while taking a dance (or other kind of creative) break
  4. Tune into yourself through meditation
  5. Stretch your body and breathe
  6. Write in a journal (or to a therapist via Talkspace)
  7. And ask yourself what you are grateful for.

Once you are able to determine which of these activities relax and ground you, try implementing them into your daily routine. Start by dedicating a set amount of time to doing them each day, and they will soon become the activities that unwind and comfort you.

Although highly sensitive people may not like structure set by someone else, they thrive when they can stick to their own routine.

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Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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