Surviving and Thriving When the Work World Overstimulates You – Part II

Public Image Courtesy of Pixabay

“Sydney” works as a telephonic advice nurse, providing medical advice to a large group of employees that work for a nationwide company. Although she enjoys helping those she advises in becoming healthier, she finds working in a cubical office with other advice nurses to be overstimulating. It is difficult for her to concentrate when she overhears her colleagues nearby. In addition, the fluorescent lighting overhead has led to ongoing headaches. These situations ultimately resulted in her inability to function at her optimal level on a regular basis.

In my previous post “Surviving and Thriving When the Work World Overstimulates You – Part I”, I described some traits of the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). I discussed ways that HSPs can work to lessen environmental stimuli which occur when working in an office setting. In this post, you will learn more about the HSP personality and further discover whether your specific traits may be best accommodated in pursuing a position that is more HSP friendly than your current occupation. In addition, a few sample occupational areas well suited for HSPs are given.

If you are a highly sensitive person like Sydney, you may find it challenging to discover a career that enables you to utilize your strengths, yet also does not cause overstimulation on a regular basis. Many HSPs are intelligent, creative, and introverted people who have a hard time fitting in to the mainstream corporate world. And yet we have to make a living too. Finding a comfortable balance between supporting yourself financially and spiritually comes down to understanding and valuing your unique traits and creating the work that’s right for you.

Anyone will tell you that being in the wrong job will sap your energy, drain your motivation and leave you feeling unfulfilled and stressed which in turn can affect your personal life and even your health. For the HSP, however, the wrong job can be difficult to sustain. Highly sensitive people often cannot tolerate much stimulation in their environment, which includes the typical working life of multi-tasking, strict deadlines, drama, high pressure, unreasonable demands and noisy work settings.

While HSPs are usually hard-working, diligent employees, they are often overlooked for promotion and recognition as they slowly sink beneath the pressure of a job that is not the right fit. Fortunately, Sydney decided to leave her advice nurse position and opted for a home health role which allows her to work one on one with homebound individuals. The cubicle environment was not conducive to her success so she sought out a nursing role that does not involve working in an office with others. She now does the administrative work from the comfort of her home.

One key to a happy work life is finding a position that suits your temperament. The more you know about yourself, the easier it will be to find the right job and/or career to suit you. For instance, are you an extrovert or introvert? Do you prefer to communicate by talking or through writing? Are you more attuned to your external environment or drawn to your inner world? Finding a career that will allow you to work with these and other preferences, rather than fighting against them, is crucial.

I recommend assessing your personality by completing The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), an inventory created by Katherine Myers and Isabel Briggs that measures individual differences based on the book Psychological Types by Carl Jung. You can take the MBTI through a career counselor who is either in private practice or located at a college/university. I also recommend the book Please Understand Me II, by David Keirsey, for further understanding of each personality type, including insights into individual career preferences.

Free Image Courtesy of Pixabay

For example, many HSPs are sensitive to the feelings of others. This is often a detriment in some office environments where you may end up absorbing other’s work stress. But there are jobs where your empathy and sensitivity would be a great asset, such as counseling, teaching, allied health roles, and environmental professions. Are you creative? Perhaps you love gardening? Do you enjoy writing? Inspired to help others? You could be a part-time art therapist for children suffering from trauma issues and write a healing book for children with the other half of your time, as an example.

Don’t try to squeeze yourself into a work role. If needed, carve out a role that fits you, based on your own unique talents, values, interests, and temperament and you’ll not only be making a living, but also thriving in doing work that leaves you feeling refreshed and accomplished. In Part III, I will discuss careers HSPs should consider avoiding as well as careers to consider pursuing.


Andrea Killion, MS, LPC, NCC
Careerful Counseling Services
503-997-9506 | |

Andrea assists clients in successfully achieving rewarding employment. She works with a diverse array of adults from all industries, backgrounds and stages. Whether you are searching for a meaningful career, trying to gain job offers in a shorter period of time, or unsure whether to stay in your current position, contact Andrea for assistance with these issues and more.

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