How to Be Less Emotionally Sensitive (20 Mindful Tips + Expert Insights)

Do you sometimes feel like your emotions are in control instead of you? Being very sensitive can make you feel a lot from small things — a harsh word, a strange look, or even a loud noise. This might make day-to-day life harder and more tiring.

Learning to manage how we react to these feelings isn’t about ignoring them. It’s about understanding them better so they don’t overwhelm us. What if you could go through your day feeling calmer and more in control?

Let’s explore some easy steps to help make this possible. Stay with me, and you’ll find out ways to ease the emotional load and enjoy your day more.

Accept Your Sensitive Nature

Embracing your sensitiveness isn’t just about making peace with it—it’s also about recognizing the strengths it brings. We often see sensitivity as a drawback, but it can actually enrich our lives, enabling deeper relationships and a greater appreciation for the subtleties around us. 

My personal favorite aspect of being sensitive is the ability to pick up on the needs of others, adding depth to friendships and family bonds. However, accepting this part of yourself can sometimes feel like you’re admitting a flaw, which is far from the truth.

Understand it’s part of who you are, not a fault.

By recognizing these traits as strengths, we can turn what seems like a vulnerability into a valuable asset. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be the person everyone turns to when they need a deep conversation or genuine understanding?

"Stop fighting against your sensitive nature and radically accept your deep feelings and sensitivity. You may even come to relish your sensitivity as a superpower! Trying to push your feelings away often has the opposite effect than helping you toughen up. Denying or disowning your emotions can create a lot of problems in your life."

Christine Scott-Hudson | Licensed Psychotherapist | Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Create Your Life Studio

Don’t Invalidate Yourself

Have you ever told yourself, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way,” or perhaps, “I’m too emotional“? This is what invalidating your feelings looks like. It’s so easy to fall into this trap, especially when you’re a highly sensitive person.

When emotions run high, instead of pushing them away, acknowledge them. This step is crucial because it’s not just about dealing with the emotions; it’s about accepting that your feelings are valid—no matter what they are.

This approach doesn’t just reduce stress; it builds emotional resilience. By validating your feelings, you’re essentially telling yourself that it’s okay to feel, which is a cornerstone of mental health. I think it’s about giving yourself the compassion you often reserve for others.

Educate Yourself About Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a game-changer, especially if you’re sensitive. It involves understanding your emotions and the emotions of others. Learning about EI can immensely help manage your sensitivity and turn it into a superpower in both personal and professional settings.

A simple way to enhance your EI is through books, workshops, or online courses, focusing on topics like managing anxiety or improving communication. Imagine you’re in a heated discussion.

With good EI, you can keep cool, understanding not just your feelings but also the emotional state of others, keeping the interaction constructive. This is what managing sensitivity with EI looks like in real life.

Identify Your Emotional Triggers

You know those moments when something small seems to set off a big wave of feelings? These are your emotional triggers, and they are as unique to you as your fingerprint. It’s important to pinpoint what sets off your emotions.

It could be certain words, a particular tone of voice, or even a type of situation. Once you know what these triggers are, you can prepare for them or even avoid situations that might set them off. It’s a bit like learning the areas in town where traffic is worst so you can take a different route.

Practice Mindful Breathing Techniques

Next is something I consider a secret weapon—mindful breathing. Don’t underestimate the power of taking a moment to breathe deeply. It’s not just about catching your breath but about centering yourself amidst a swirl of emotions. It can offer an immediate calming effect and help reset your emotional state.

Here’s how to incorporate mindful breathing:

  • Find a quiet spot.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, counting to four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of four.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to six.

Imagine you’re in a tense situation. By consciously taking a few deep breaths, you can step back from the emotional edge, giving your mind a moment to process your feelings more clearly.

This tiny pause can make a big difference in how you respond.

Set Healthy Emotional Boundaries

Boundaries are like invisible fences for your feelings; they protect you from getting too affected by others or situations. Maybe you’re someone who always says “yes” to helping others, even when it leaves you exhausted.

It’s time to say “no” sometimes. Saying “no” allows you to conserve your emotional energy and spend it on things that are important to you. If social media often makes you feel anxious or upset, maybe limit the time you spend on it.

Think of setting boundaries as a way of keeping your emotional garden healthy – you decide what gets in and what doesn’t.

Keep a Journal for Emotional Expression

Carrying emotions around all the time can be heavy. Think of journaling as setting down that weight on paper. When you capture your thoughts and feelings in writing, it’s not just about venting.

This activity helps you understand your emotions, spot patterns, and figure out what makes you tick. You don’t need a fancy notebook or the perfect pen—just grab something to write on and let your thoughts out.

Sometimes, seeing your feelings on paper can make them seem more manageable, giving you a clearer mind to tackle them.

Challenge Negative Thought Patterns

Our brains can be busy places with lots of thoughts zooming around, and not all of them are encouraging.

When you find yourself thinking things like “I can’t do this” or “I always mess up,” it’s like a signal that’s time for a mental cleanup. Start by noticing these negative thoughts. Then, gently question them. Are they really true? Would you say these things to a friend?

By challenging these thoughts, you’re polishing your mind, making it a shinier, more positive place to be. It might take practice, but over time, you’ll likely find it easier to spot these thoughts and switch them for more helpful ones.

Understand Sensitivity as a Signal

Understanding sensitivity as a signal rather than a setback can dramatically change how you interact with the world. High sensitivity can alert you to when you’re overstimulated or emotionally overwhelmed, serving as a built-in mechanism to prompt self-care.

  • Listen to your body and emotions: They often tell you when you need to slow down or step back.
  • Adjust accordingly: Use this awareness to take proactive steps like a short break or a longer period of solitude to recover.

Here’s what this looks like in action: You’re at a bustling party, and suddenly you find the noise and crowd overbearing. Instead of ignoring these feelings, recognizing them as signals helps you decide to step outside for a few minutes and get some fresh air. This isn’t running away—it’s smart emotional management.

Apply Cognitive Defusion Techniques

Cognitive defusion is a fancy term for a simple concept: distancing yourself from your thoughts to see them as merely words or pictures rather than truths you must react to. This method is especially helpful for emotionally sensitive people who often find themselves swept away by their thoughts.

Notice when you’re fusing with your thoughts (i.e., taking them as literal truths). Practice saying, “I’m having the thought that…” before your usual thoughts. This helps you see them as just thoughts, not realities.

For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I can’t handle this,” transform it into, “I’m having the thought that I can’t handle this.” It’s a small shift, but it can significantly change how you react emotionally.

I mean, it’s like stepping back and realizing that just because you think it doesn’t make it true.

"I like to use this simple tool during my moments of high-sensitivity. This is a way of viewing you, the thinker, as separate from your thoughts. To practice this, when you experience sensitivity, first notice the negative thought attached to it, such as, 'They don’t like me.' Then, figuratively step back and state to yourself, 'I am having the thought that they don’t like me.' This simple technique allows you the space to pause and detach a bit from the thought rather than immediately spiraling into the negativity."

Josie Munroe | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Practice Gratitude Daily

Gratitude is like a muscle—the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Every day, take a few seconds to think of one or two things you’re thankful for. It could be as small as a delicious cup of coffee or as big as the love of your family.

This isn’t just a feel-good exercise; it can change the way you see your world, helping to shift the spotlight from stress and worry to appreciation and joy. It’s a simple practice that can have a big impact on how sensitive you feel to the ups and downs of life.

Engage in Regular Physical Activity

Getting your body moving isn’t just great for your muscles; it’s also a powerful way to balance your emotions. When we talk about physical activity, it doesn’t mean you have to become a gym hero.

Even a brisk walk, stretching, or dancing in your living room can get the job done. Moving your body can help to clear your head, make you feel more energized, and reduce the intensity of your emotions.

Make physical activity a regular part of your routine, and you might just find that your sensitivity to life’s stresses gets dialed down a notch.

Prioritize Adequate Sleep

Getting enough sleep is like hitting the reset button for your emotional world, especially if you’re highly sensitive. Lack of sleep can amplify emotional reactions and make it more challenging to handle everyday stresses.

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to help signal your body that it’s time to wind down.

Consider how you feel after a poor night’s sleep—irritable, quick to react, and generally off your game, right? Now, think about the clarity and calm that follow a good night’s sleep.

It’s not just about feeling rested; it’s about giving your brain the time it needs to process emotions efficiently. I mean, there’s the reason why they call it “beauty sleep”!

Learn and Practice Assertiveness

Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive. It’s about saying what you need and how you feel in a clear, direct way that doesn’t step on anyone else’s toes.

This can be tricky when you’re worried about keeping everyone happy, but it’s important for your emotional well-being. The next time you find yourself agreeing to something you don’t really want, pause.

Then, with respect, say what you prefer. It’s like being the driver of your car rather than the passenger; you get to steer your life in the direction you want it to go.

Use Humor to Lighten Emotional Loads

Laughter has been called the best medicine, and there’s some truth to that. When you’re feeling weighed down by emotions, finding a bit of humor in the situation can be like opening a window in a stuffy room.

It creates a little space between you and your worries. You don’t need to be a comedian—just look for the lighter side in everyday moments or share a laugh with a friend. Taking things less seriously can sometimes make them feel less heavy.

Embrace a Hobby or Creative Outlet

Finding a hobby or creative outlet is essential for anyone, but it’s particularly beneficial for those who are emotionally sensitive. Engaging in activities that you love can provide a therapeutic escape from the stress of daily life.

  • Choose activities that resonate with you, whether it’s painting, gardening, or playing music.
  • Allocate regular time to engage in these activities, ensuring they’re a consistent part of your routine.

Here’s what this looks like: imagine it’s been a stressful week. You decide to spend a few hours on Saturday morning in your garden or sketching in your studio. This isn’t just about passing time; it’s about creating a space where you can lose yourself in something you love, helping to soothe your emotions and recharge your mental batteries.

Develop a Strong Support System

A strong network of friends, family, or even community groups isn’t just for good times. These connections act as a safety net when you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed. It’s about having people to talk to who understand and validate your feelings.

This support can help put things in perspective, making your problems seem less daunting. Remember, seeking support is not a weakness; it’s a smart way to handle life’s challenges, giving you a variety of insights and strengths to draw from.

Limit Exposure to Stressful Media Content

The constant stream of news and social media can feel like a barrage of noise, often heightening feelings of sensitivity. Be mindful of your media consumption. If the news is a source of stress, give yourself permission to take a break from it.

It’s like choosing a quieter, less crowded path to walk on. Without the incessant background hum of stressful information, you may find it easier to stay centered and emotionally balanced.

Value Predictable and Safe Routines

Consistency can be a comfort, especially when you’re sensitive to life’s unpredictability. Creating a routine gives you a sense of stability.

This routine doesn’t need to be intricate; it could be something as simple as a morning stretch, a regular mealtime, or setting aside time each evening to unwind with a book.

With a routine in place, you have an island of calm in your day, giving you a dependable structure that helps tame the tidal waves of emotions.

"Highly sensitive people do well with predictable and safe routines. Allow yourself to get 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. Eat regular meals, stay hydrated, and practice good, essential self-care. This will go a long way in keeping your body calm and regulated."

Christine Scott-Hudson | Licensed Psychotherapist | Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Create Your Life Studio

Seek Professional Therapy or Counseling

Sometimes, managing emotional sensitivity requires more support than friends and self-care can provide. Seeking professional therapy or counseling is not a sign of weakness but a proactive step towards understanding and managing your emotions more effectively.

  • Find a therapist who specializes in sensitivity or related areas, like anxiety or depression.
  • Consider different types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), to see what best suits your needs.

If you imagine therapy as a journey, think of a therapist as a guide who helps you navigate the complex terrain of your emotions.

It’s not about someone fixing you because you’re not broken. It’s about gaining tools and insights to manage your sensitivity better, making the journey of life smoother and more enjoyable.

"Working with a therapist can help you identify, challenge, and re-write some of your negative stories. In turn, you learn how to recognize what emotional baggage is yours and what is someone else’s and respond in a healthy, empowering manner."

Josie Munroe | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

More Insights From the Experts

“Sensitive people should cultivate their sensitivity in safe 1-on-1 relationships because it will make them stronger. They will be bolstered by stronger emotional anchors, which will allow them to invest less emotional energy in more superficial relationships.

It will make them seem less sensitive to the outside world because they will not be as hurt by small insults and emotional injuries from people they are not as close to. They will also be able to deal with emotional pain that does occur more quickly because they can share it with someone who will hold space for them.”

Dave Wolovsky | Positive Psychology-based Coach, Effortwise

“Emotional sensitivity turns into reactivity (yelling, overthinking, reacting harshly, shutting down) when a parent doesn’t tell a child that their feelings are ok and make sense. When parents focus only on the behavior, saying things like ‘don’t worry,’ ‘it’s ok,’ ‘it’s not that big of a deal,’ ‘don’t be shy,’ etc., the child hears ‘I don’t understand you.'”

Megghan Thompson | Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor | Owner, Megghan Thompson Coaching

“An important thing to remember is that feelings aren’t always true. Emotional experiences are authentic, in that the impact they have on you is valid, but just because you’re feeling one way doesn’t mean that it points to anything based in reality.

Our emotions come as responses to our perceptions, which are often skewed. To be less reactive to your changing emotional states, it’s essential to slow down and try to understand why you’re feeling the way you are.

See if there’s a reason in reality that has caused you to feel this way, or if your perception of the moment might be a bit skewed. Feelings offer a lot of advice to our minds, but it’s not all good advice. Make sure you’re checking your facts before you act.”

Lily Ewing | Licensed Mental Health Counseling Associate

“Feel your feelings. Emotional sensitivity often stems from the fact that you’re not processing your emotions properly. Everything becomes a big deal when you haven’t dealt with the root of your stress, sadness, anxiety, or any other issue.

By allowing yourself time to feel your emotions, acknowledging them, and then moving forward, you become less emotionally sensitive to more trivial situations. Dismissing feelings doesn’t reduce emotional sensitivity; it merely spreads it over every situation rather than the moment that you’re feeling it in. Own your emotions and then move on in an attempt to be less emotionally sensitive.”

Adina Mahalli | Certified Mental Health Consultant | Founder, Enlightened Reality

“On some level, we have all been wronged before. It leaves you emotionally sensitive – what if I get undermined again? If I get ridiculed when I gather enough strength to open up? Not only do these painful memories that make you feel vulnerable and exposed, but they also undermine your self-esteem and what you set out to achieve.

You can turn it around by preparing yourself for the best. What if you went into every critical situation with a mindset that expects only good things to come to you?

Ask yourself- what if things turn out better than I could ever imagine? What if they love me at the job interview? What if my date turns out to be the one? What if this time, my partner will genuinely listen to what I have to say? Sure, not everything is going to turn out perfectly, but when you expect the best, you set yourself up to win.

The best is yet to come, my friend!”

Joe Bakhmoutski | Author, Simplify Cancer: Man’s Guide to Navigating the Everyday Reality of Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

What is emotional sensitivity?

Emotional sensitivity refers to the ability to perceive, understand, and respond to emotions in oneself and others.

Emotionally sensitive individuals tend to be highly aware of their own feelings and the feelings of others, and they often react deeply to emotional stimuli.

Emotional sensitivity can manifest in many ways, including empathy, compassion, and a heightened sense of intuition.

What are the causes of emotional sensitivity?

There are many factors that can contribute to emotional sensitivity, including:

• Genetics: Genetic factors can pass emotional sensitivity down from generation to generation.

• Childhood experiences: Childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or trauma, can increase the likelihood of developing emotional sensitivity.

• Personality traits: Some personality traits, such as introversion or high sensitivity, can increase the likelihood of being emotionally sensitive.

• Cultural or social factors: Being raised in a culture or social group that values emotional expression and awareness can also contribute to emotional sensitivity.

• Environmental factors: Exposure to stressful or traumatic life events can lead to increased emotional sensitivity.

How can I recognize if I am emotionally sensitive?

Here are some signs that you may be emotionally sensitive:

• You are highly attuned to the emotions of others and feel a strong connection to their feelings.
• You often feel overwhelmed by intense emotions, both your own and others.
• You are easily moved by art, music, or other forms of emotional expression.
• You have a deep sense of empathy and compassion for others.
• You are highly intuitive and have a strong sense of what people are feeling without them telling you.
• You tend to feel things deeply and are profoundly affected by emotional stimuli.

Final Thoughts

As you give these ideas a try, be patient with yourself. Change takes time. Some days will be better than others, and that’s perfectly fine. Think of it as an adventure, one where you get to know yourself a bit more every day.

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Jahrine is a seeker of knowledge and personal growth. When not exploring the worlds of self-help books and spirituality, she enjoys reading dark fiction and spending time with her beloved dogs. With diverse interests, including career development, travel, and poetry, Jahrine is constantly expanding her horizons and seeking new experiences.