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Overstimulation. Noise, chaos, bright lights, smells, crowds. These are the highly sensitive person’s kryptonite.
I’ve brainstormed a list of what I think are the worst places on earth for HSPs.
[See the blog post version of this episode]
This episode is a little different than most—this isn’t advice, or a serious topic. It is sort of tongue-in-cheek, a little sarcastic, and even a bit silly. It’s more about pondering all the things that set off HSPs and then thinking which places have a lot of those things. So, disclaimer: don’t take this too seriously. Not everyone will agree with this list.
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Podcast music attribution: Bust This Bust That (Professor Kliq) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
[Just posted this comment on the homepage – it should have gone here – feel free to delete it off the homepage.]
I’ve just listened to the very latest podcast: The Worst Places on Earth for HSPs. Great episode and I’d like to add my personal HSP hell – Ikea at the weekend. Not just bright lights and too much choice, but you’re forced to take the longest way around and the place is full of people and kids running around and shouting.
And how about music festivals? I used to go when I was young, but that did involve ‘self medicating’ with a certain substance which relaxed me. And fun fairs – not fun, and almost certainly not fair either.
And on a different note conferences and weddings with the pressure to make small talk with a succession of strangers in a crowded, noisy, strange setting…
Keep up the good work!
omg Ikea!!!! How did I not think of that!! Also music festivals! (I actually dislike most concerts!) Gosh these are both so good!
I Agree! Any kind of festival I avoid now.
Very interesting that you mentioned those, because IKEA and concerts are some of the very few crowded places that do not make me feel like I’m dying (but there are requirements for that), and I have been discussing these with my husband recently.
IKEA: Why does it attract me over other options (other than affordability and suiting my interest of building smt with my hands)?
1) I already know the options (every information is online). Hardly any surprises / pressure of many choices at the spot.
2) If I am not happy with the product later at home, I could give it back hassle-fee within a certain amount of time, with minimum personal interaction or justification.
3) There is no staff around that keeps following me and asks me repeatedly if I need help or not; I could very well be left alone.
4) Everything is categorized and placed as such, so you can run and skip a whole bunch of the store light-speed,
5) The path inside is one-dimensional, so less pressure of going around in different directions with the stress of not missing out. (This could be a problem though, if you find yourself trying to walk in the opposite direction of the people-flow!).
1) I go there alone (no fuss about trying to please your companion),
2) I choose a kid-free date if I can (little kids shouting and running around is one of the hardest things to handle for me),
3) I go with a prepared list, already knowing what I will buy, and usually go straight to the point,
4) I go with an HSP tool-kit for shopping (bottled water and little snacks for a hunger / thirst emergency, layered clothing for constantly changing body temperature, wet wipes and tissues in case I need to use the toilet and they are not provided, even maybe music and earphones if it’s going to be a long run) ,
5) I try to use my time wisely and be sure to give little breaks if it’s going to be a long run (still working on that; very much used to pushing myself to burn-out; ouch!).
And the others;
Weddings and big parties are a nightmare unless I have a specific job to do (such as being a bride’s maid, the wedding photographer, etc.) or I feel joyful enough to throw myself to the dance floor (yes, dancing is one of my few escapes, because I sense the music deep enough to overtake any other emotion as long as it’s the type of music I like).
Conferences: Very hard; I do well in following the talks, with a pre-made schedule of what I’m going to follow, which speaker I’m willing to discuss a specific question, etc. But then the whole thing gets so overwhelming that I have to shut down everything else, have no social fun, no sight-seeing (I used to travel for conferences as part of my job), no relaxation- just pure and consuming nerdness.
Other horrible places for me to be: Exhibition openings (especially art)! So many works to look at at once, with so many people doing small talk, food going in and out, people drinking, hence eventually some glass breaking somewhere and me still seeing that piece of glass not swept away after they clean up, some people try to negotiate the smoking ban….)
Other crowded places I don’t mind that much being in: Concert of a musician I like. Why go there? Because music always lifts me up and it’s one of the few ways for me to shut down other sensory inputs. Requirement? Preferably I go there alone so that I am completely free of escaping if I want / changing my spot to a more convenient one / avoiding small talk, etc. And it should NOT be a music festival (done that as well, not anymore): just a crowd of people looking at the same stage, there only for one artist, no ongoing food-drink session, no background noise, you know when it starts and ends, no need to fill in breaks with other activities, etc.
Great podcast, Kelly. When I saw the title, I thought: Las Vegas! Actually, the whole place is like one big casino, which you nailed!
Another one on my list, sadly: many doctors’ offices. They so often have uncomfortable seats, of course most people there are unhappy, ill, scared, etc., and then — they have TVs blaring with terrible programming, either news or horrible daytime TV programming. I always protest and ask to have them turned off, but often I am refused.
How about a courtroom? I was almost on a jury in a sexual abuse case – multiple charges, victim under 14. Before I realized it, I had absorbed the tension of others in the jury pool and probably some from the folks on the other side of the room too. It was heartening to see the respect and willingness to do justice shown by the judge, attorneys, and potential jurors … But still hard for an HSP/empath to take.
Oh! That’s a good one, too. Emotions are so extremely high in a tense situation like that.
Just listened to this podcast this morning and I think you nailed it! I was talking out loud each time you mentioned a place, saying “so true!” It’s a great comfort to know I’m not the only one who has these feelings. Thanks, Kelly!
Thank you for the nice comment! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the show.
Good episode! I had the misfortune of going to the Herald Square Macy’s in NYC on a Thanksgiving weekend one year. It was so crowded it was hard to even walk around!
I’ve never been to Benihana, but it doesn’t sound like a good time. I consider myself warned to stay away.
I’ve also found casinos to be overly noisy and yes, depressing. Several months ago I was on a cruise with a group of my relatives and we tended to do everything together. Every night after dinner, I would be dragged off by them to the casino, which many of my relatives absolutely love. I had no desire to be among all the noise, the flashing lights, and people
slumped sadly in front of slot machines so I would excuse myself and turn in early.
Here’s another one: the national political conventions! Constant noise, crowds, flashing lights, pounding music…..
I tried to listen to last night’s coverage on public radio, and had to turn it off, because it was so tiring to listen to the hosts and speakers talking over the background roar of the crowd. Sometimes the commenters would be speaking over both speakers and the crowd. And why do all the speakers shout as though they have no microphones?
And this is all without even talking about the political atmosphere of hatred and conflict!
I can’t imagine being there in person; I don’t think I’d stick it out for 15 minutes!
Oh wow, that’s a good one!!! I totally agree.
Great podcast! I would add schools, where I have worked for the last 25 years without knowing that I was a HSP… Thanks for your sharings and your channel on YouTube, I’m going to watch them all!
Add this to the list:
The State Fair of Texas. On Red River Rivalry weekend in October when the Texas – Oklahoma football game pulls in an ADDITIONAL 95,000 people to the fairgrounds.
good ones!! thanks!
You are right about the Fair! I find the best day to go to the State Fair of Texas is opening day. It is clean, visitors and employees are pleasant, and it’s not too crowded yet. Of course, the line to Fletcher’s corny dogs is always long! I also leave before the evening crowd arrives.
I haven’t read all the comments but a casino must be up there. I am a croupier and have been in the business for almost 10 years now, lol. I desperately want to get out of it now, especially since discovering that I am an HSP. To be fair I can only reinforce that trueness of the “It depends…” statement mentioned in another episode when looking at suitable jobs for HSPs. I am an introverted HSP but I don’t hate going to work, although I work only part-time now. I can get overwhelmed at times, but the casino is not too busy mot of the time and not too stressful and the management trust me to do a good job so I am not closely monitored. Still, it’s far from ideal, just want to say that I think one of the challenges for an HSP is to flex his/her ‘tolerance muscle’ and using the trait as an excuse and flee is a very convenient path to take. We can take more than what we think! 🙂
Ok, you just mentioned casinos, I should listen to the full podcast first instead of going through the comment section and comment, ha-ha. Nice episode anyway!