Creative Child

Sanity Savers for Sensitive Moms

by Rebecca Eanes

I am extremely sensitive to smells. Flowery scents give me a headache. Foul smells make me irritable. Strong smells make me nauseous. Light and pleasant smells elevate my mood, and so I’m always on the search for a great candle or favorite new body lotion. Bright lights make me cringe. Sirens make me feel anxious. Loud yells and screams are like nails screeching down a chalkboard. I hide my eyes during violent scenes in movies because I feel physical pain when someone gets stabbed or shot on screen. Sometimes I have to walk out of the theater and take a restroom break just to get away from the booming audio. Crowds drain my energy, as does clutter, and I find the world just overwhelming in general. Often at night, and sometimes in the middle of the day, you can find me in my bedroom, covers drawn over my head to block out the sensory input and reset my nervous system.

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Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, says that 15 to 20 percent of the population are highly sensitive (HSP). I’m in that 15 to 20 percent. She says here that HSPs are easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment. Our nervous systems are more sensitive, and we are aware of subtleties in our surroundings.  The key quality though, says, Aron, is that we process everything around us more than the other 80%. We reflect on it, elaborate on it, and make associations. Ask yourself these questions from Aron’s website to determine if you may be highly sensitive.

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

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