Highly Sensitive Persons, or HSPs, account for about 20% of the population. If you’re a woman who identifies as highly sensitive, or a woman who’s searching for a sense of vitality, this discussion is for you.

Are you thriving, or just surviving? We all want optimal health — but could vitality be a missing ingredient? Vitality is considered a cornerstone of health and well-being. It implies living life fully and in good spirits, using the tools and resources available to you.

Being a Highly Sensitive Person can add a level of contradiction when striving for balance, but there are things you can do to manage and enhance your joyful vitality.

Have you been told that you’re too sensitive, or that you need to “toughen up”? If you’re a deep thinker who often feels as though you don’t quite fit in, there’s a good chance you may be an HSP.

Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP, was a personality term created by psychologist Elaine Aron, and she described how this population has a different way of sensory processing. Approximately 20% of the population are HSPs.

Signs of the Highly Sensitive Person

  • Easily overwhelmed in noisy environments
  • Preference for small gatherings over large crowds
  • Quickly picks up other people’s moods and motives
  • Often moved by music, books, films and media
  • Heightened sensitively to hunger, pain, medication and caffeine
  • Need to recharge and relax alone on a regular basis
  • Difficulty saying no for fear of hurting others
  • Perfectionism and imposter syndrome
  • Trouble handling conflict and criticism
  • Ability to notice little changes in environment

Another useful way to think about HSP: D.O.E.S.

Depth of processing: HSPs often process incoming information in a more thorough way.

Overstimulation: HSPs may take longer than the average person to process stimuli, so they become overwhelmed or drained in busy or crowded environments.

Emotional reactivity: this can be a problematic trait until HSPs understand what it is. Since they are always “tuned in” to their environment, they cannot help but react strongly to both positive and negative situations.

They are also empathetic and prone to picking up other people’s bad moods.

Seeing the subtle: HSPs see and hear as well as anyone, but they also have a special ability to pick up on subtle changes; same with deception or ulterior motives in a friend or partner. HSPs may have an intuitive sense of a person’s true nature, if the person is concealing it.

From the outside looking in, an HSP may avoid activities or socializing with groups at times, and may have trouble maintaining focus and/or confidence in stimulating environments.

They also may experience low mood or fatigue without understanding why — they cannot identify an obvious external trigger or organic cause, such as iron deficiency anemia or hypothyroidism.

What supplements can support vitality for an HSP?

It cannot be overstated how nourishing magnesium can be for HSPs. Magnesium is a tonic to our nervous system.

For HSPs, it is the nervous system that is fine tuned and receiving all sensory input from one’s inner and external environment: thoughts, feelings, noises, temperature, light, energy.

There are several different types of magnesium, and consulting with a health care professional experienced in nutraceutical supplements can help find the best for you.

Generally magnesium glycinate is usually taken at night as it can aid relaxation and sleep. But if someone requires more than 300mg daily, a morning dose can be added to support the nervous system during the daytime.

Phosphadtidylserine can lower cortisol levels, and is also a major phospholipid in the brain that can be helpful for regulating neurotransmitters and supporting cognition.

GABA is an amino acid that can calm the nervous system and support sleep.


Cortisol is one of main stress hormones. When HSPs are over stimulated, or “wired but tired,” targeting the stress response and this hormone can help promote the calming effect of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Magnolia official: is often found in proprietary blends, this herb can lower cortisol levels and improve sleep quality.

Ashwaganda: can reduce cortisol levels and lower inflammation markers and fatigue.

Valerian: a natural sedative that can promote sleepiness and a deeper feeling of relaxation.

Time alone

It is essential for HSPs to have time on their own, away from others.

This can be especially challenging as people are often drawn to HSPs who are strongly empathetic. Generally they are ready listeners, they have a peaceful disposition, and they are curious.

Creating a healthy boundary and saying what you need is a powerful way to show others that to be the person they enjoy being around, you need to recharge your batteries!

Explanation is important because to someone who is not an HSP, they won’t have a concept of what you require to be your best self.


Eat meals in a slow relaxed fashion, and avoid rushing. Avoid restaurants that are noisy and loud, otherwise you are likely to feel buzzed and overstimulated. Watch your caffeine and sugar intake, as HSPs are more sensitive to blood sugar spikes and caffeine stimulation.


The best way to stabilize your blood sugar is a fibre rich diet and adequate protein. I recommend that adults aim for a minimum of 30 grams per day, and ideally 45 grams per day. This helps slow the uptake of sugar into your blood stream, which balances your blood sugar, and also leaves you satiated for longer.


An average adult should aim for 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you are physically active and strength training, aiming for a minimum of 1.2 grams is best. Protein is composed of amino acids which are necessary building blocks of neurotransmitters and hormones, which can foster feelings of well-being and calm.

Make a plan for your body and your mind

HSPs thrive on structure and predictable outcomes, so set yourself up for success by sticking to a fitness routine you enjoy on a weekly basis, and remember that mental fitness is a part of whole body health!

This can include: affirmations, meditation, yoga, calling a friend, or having tea with someone who is in your support system, immersing yourself in nature, and the often hard to achieve for HSPs: alone time!

Since HSPs process deeply, become more aware of what environments suit your personality and which ones deplete your energy.

While the environment may seem obvious for feeling good as an HSP, be aware of triggers that can alter how your vitality feels including the people you spend time with, loud/different music, lighting (too bright/too dim), crowds versus smaller group settings, and temperature (environment and body temperature).

Getting to know the kinds of people who appreciate your sensitivity and making an effort to meet your tribe will enhance your vitality.

Working on confidently saying “no” to people and events that do not support  your health will benefit you in the long run.

Remember too, people are more understanding than you might think, and you will be respected for doing what feels right for you. —LP

Dr. Bryn Hyndman, MD
You can find Dr. Bryn’s passion project on YouTube @DrBrynMD