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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

#straightfromsarah: Can High Sensitivity Decrease as We Heal from Burnout?

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Highly sensitive people often assume they are simply wired that way from birth and that there is nothing that can be done to change their sensitivity. In this week’s #straightfromsarah episode, FRIED Burnout Coach Sarah Vosen discusses changes in her sensitivity levels that she has experienced since recovering from burnout and the potential for negative effects of high sensitivity to lessen as the nervous system heals.

Chronic stress can cause our nervous system to get stuck in a feedback loop of more and more stress that ultimately leads to burnout. If you already have a higher level of sensitivity, burnout is going to be an even more likely result of chronic stress and troubling experiences. Sarah explains the six defining characteristics of highly sensitive people and how these characteristics have diminished throughout her healing journey. These characteristics are needing more time and space for processing experiences, differential susceptibility, overstimulation, empathy, emotional responsiveness, and awareness of subtle stimuli.

Although some aspects of high sensitivity may not entirely go away upon healing from burnout, there is strong evidence to suggest that as healing occurs, certain characteristics decrease. Tune into this week’s #straightfromsarah episode to learn more about each of the six characteristics of highly sensitive people and to discover how they relate to your own journey as you are healing from burnout.


If we have had troubled lives, we are more susceptible to feeling the things we deem negative stronger and are prone to more anxiety and depression than others. But if we've had an easier life, we are more susceptible to feeling the things we've labeled as positive like joy and happiness more strongly.” (7:43-8:00 | Sarah)

“When you step back and look at your life, has the course of it had an overall ongoing positive trend or continuously negative one? Since we're all here and fried, perhaps the latter resonates most which would qualify us as an example of differential susceptibility.” (8:28-8:44 | Sarah)

“There's a part of our brain that determines whether our nervous system responds sympathetically or parasympathetically due to our present circumstances. It's called the reticular activating system and it's a part of the brainstem.” (9:48-10:00 | Sarah)

“When we're chronically stressed, this part of our brainstem gets stuck firing the sympathetic pathways, keeping us in the stress loop, which fries our nervous system and leads to the burnout we have all experienced. In order to stop this cycle, we need to give our brain location info about our body and space.” (10:15-10:31 | Sarah)

“In my recovery process, it's now easier to discern what I can control and what I am responsible for taking care of. I still can't witness a struggling human or plant right in front of me and not want to help. The difference is that I have awareness of my savior tendencies and I know how to ask people if they want my help instead of offering unsolicited advice.” (13:07-13:29 | Sarah)

“I've realized that as much as I used to feel validated by the idea that my high sensitivity was just how I was wired and wasn't something that I needed to fix, I am currently pleasantly surprised and quite relieved that the hardest parts of being highly sensitive have minimized.” (18:36-18:51 | Sarah)


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If you know that it’s time to actually DO something about the burnout cycle you’ve been in for too long - book your free consult today:


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