How I navigated my high sensitivity in a fast-paced workspace

Hi there! My name is Manuèle and I am currently doing an internship in strategic content and communication at Walking Men.

When I started a couple of months ago, I knew I would be entering one of the top-notch Brussels agencies where the workflow and rhythm is pretty intense just as ideas and innovation flourish. Starting out in the professional world as an intern is always both stressful and challenging. It comes with its share of learning, stimulation and thrills — which can sometimes feel overwhelming for most people, and even more if you are a highly sensitive person (HSP) like me. But my experience taught me that my sensitivity can, if well managed, serve and support my professional goals instead of hindering them. Here are a few techniques that help me fortify myself and manage my trait during my time at Walking Men to make the most of this incredible adventure.

Tip n°1: Rest like a pro

My first tip can seem pretty basic but is nonetheless important: sleep well. Joining a new work environment is always energy-intensive and tiring. There are a lot of things to learn, discover, and master. And a lack of sleep can complicate this process. In fact, not sleeping enough can leave everyone — but especially highly sensitive people — feeling grumpy and overwhelmed. Sleep can help you counteract the activation of your nervous system, thus enabling you to be calmer, at ease and relaxed during the day.

Tip n°2 : Hop on the creativity train

One of the best things I discovered about agency life when working at Walking Men is the profusion of creativity and ideas that flows through our daily work. From content to development via strategy and design, every step of the way requires innovative thinking. I am convinced that this whirlwind of energy is an opportunity for the HSP, as most of us are natural creatives, experiencing the world through wider lenses. Indeed, being attuned to all kinds of stimuli also means a lot of them are uplifting. Try to focus your energy on good stimuli rather than those that make you feel uncomfortable! Knowing that my brain has a tendency to be overflowing with ideas, inspirations and stimuli helps me to make the most of it.

Tip n°3 : Enjoy some “me” time

Another trick that helps me is to take mindful breaks when needed. If I feel like the day is a bit more mind-boggling than usual, I try to use my lunch break as a reset time. As tempting as it is to use it as a period to do everything you don’t have time for during the day, you shouldn’t. Taking time to calm down, rest and enjoy something you genuinely love will once again help you feel more at ease and thus decrease your sensitive arousal, allowing you to avoid your feelings and thoughts getting in the way later on. Try to disconnect and enjoy an unplugged moment. Listen to music, read a book, catch up with a friend or spend time alone, do a quick meditation, etc.. You do you! For me, nothing works better than listening to a podcast while walking in the streets of Sainte-Catherine.

Tip n°4 : Choose the right environment

Your choice of work environment should be based both on the work and the structure. I realized soon enough that given my trait, I needed to choose a structure allowing me to feel at ease. And this is one of the many reasons why I chose Walking Men. I knew that the work environment I would evolve in was caring, tolerant and united, where everyone is encouraged to express their personality and uniqueness. Everyone here at Walking Men is working hand in hand throughout the whole web process, which really made me feel part of a team.

Socializing with the team wasn’t hard as everyone here welcomed me with open arms, but I am convinced that the “socializing with your colleagues” part is really important for the HSP. These positive social interactions uplift you while helping you feel more relaxed and comfortable in your work environment, hence reducing anxiety. It will also encourage you to ask for help when the responsibilities you are given feel overwhelming. Remember you are here to learn and no one is born an expert. Enjoy this learning process and be gentle with yourself.

Tip n°5 : It’s okay not to be okay

Some days, despite my best efforts, managing my sensitivity is still hard. When it happens, I try not to take it as a failure, because it is not. And you shouldn’t either. Not every day can be a good day. There will be deadlines to meet as well as stresses, pressure and obligations. There will be days where you will pick up on everyone’s mood, stress and emotions more than usual. In these moments, it is important to calm down and realise you are doing the best you can. Applying some of these tips on a daily basis can help you counteract your trait to some extent, but at the end of the day it is still part of you. Your job now is to unapologetically accept it and to learn to handle it.

In conclusion, my internship at Walking Men has given me the opportunity to challenge myself on the professional but also personal side. The dynamism and energy that goes into the agency’s daily work, combined with its unique team, has provided me with the perfect environment in which to learn more about how to manage my sensitivity and how to nourish it to get the best out of it. While this trait can be a bit tricky to live with on a daily basis, it can be navigated with perseverance, time and a bit of patience. Remember the enormous strengths that come with your trait and use them to support your professional growth and goals. Train your super active brain to its fullest potential and own this trait that makes you you!

Resources I recommend:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_deal_with_sensory_overload_as_a_sensitive_person

https://www.proactivemindfulness.com/highly-sensitive-people/

https://medium.com/s/story/the-secret-life-of-a-highly-sensitive-person-e5e49ab4918b

https://medium.com/s/story/how-to-thrive-as-a-highly-sensitive-person-7e2201b7919d

https://www.passporthealthusa.com/employer-solutions/blog/2019-5-help-highly-sensitive-persons-in-the-workplace/

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