What does it mean to be a Highly Sensitive Person (short HSP) living in one of China’s biggest cities?
It means that there’s a lot of external stress. Maybe much more external stress than you’d have to cope with back at home. Millions of people, hundred thousands of vehicles, ten thousands of sounds, thousands of smells – this might be hard to bear for a not so sensitive person already, but what it means for a highly sensitive person is that your system will be overloaded even more by the density of people, feelings, smells, sounds and colors.
What can you do about it?
- Find your oasis in the concrete desert. Your oasis might be a nearby park, the sea, a café, or simply your home. For me, my apartment is particularly important. Before moving in, I looked for an apartment with an extra bedroom. The bedroom is just for sleeping – my computer, the television, etc. stay in the living room. This way, I can really focus on resting in the evening.
- Make time for spending time with just yourself. You might easily get exhausted just by going shopping or going to work – meeting up with friends can be fun but sometimes it’s also really important to just relax on your own and give your brain a rest.
- Get out of the city whenever you have time for it. Go to the countryside, climb a mountain or just relax in a place with fresh air, nature and not too many other people.
- Get creative. Read a book, write something, make a painting, cook something, make music, grow a plant. Find activities that you find fulfilling and relaxing.
Although being in such a huge city does have its negative sides, it can also be very inspiring for a highly sensitive person: The markets, the colors, the stories people tell you. Traveling through China’s vast countryside is something I wouldn’t want to miss. The people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made. Ever since starting to study Chinese, I somehow felt that my creativity had been lost in the process. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved studying Chinese. But I needed to go to China to get back my creativity. Once in China, I started to take pictures, make collages by hand, I got into design again and last but not least started making illustrations. After moving to Shenzhen, I started writing this blog. I feel like China has given me back my creativity, and for all the pressure living in a mega city like Shenzhen puts on my system, I’m still very grateful for the inspiration I can draw from everyday life here.
On a side note: If you’re not familiar with what a Highly Sensitive Person (or short HSP) is, here is a good overview on Wikipedia.
P.S.: I saw this came up in a google search, so I’m adding the Chinese translation which I found for highly sensitive person: 高度敏感者 gāodù mǐngǎnzhě or 高度敏感的人 gāodù mǐngǎn de rén, with 高度 meaning to a high degree, 敏感 being the translation for sensitive and 者 or 人 (latter with a 的 in front) describing that this is a person – a person who is sensitive to a high degree. 高度敏感者 is what you’d find in writing, while 高度敏感的人 would be what you’d say in a conversation.
Are you a highly sensitive person and does living in China put a lot of external stress on your system? I’d love to read your stories.