Temperature Changes and an HSP by Shannon Garza

Temperature Changes and An HSP

It’s cold in here. That bothers me like nothing other.

I can’t function when it’s cold, a challenge this gift of sensitivity has ever so thoughtfully bestowed upon me.

Everywhere I go it’s cold — the restaurant down the road, your Aunt’s house, your home where the roommate runs the thermostat. I can’t win anywhere I go, even in the dead of summer. It’s cold in here and that bothers me.

I’m the only one cold in here. Everyone else is sitting perfectly fine in their nice blouse or cute tee and I’m here putting on my third sweater. So now I’m annoyed because the cute shirt I chose to wear can no longer be seen, it’s covered with sweaters.

If I weren’t so cold then I could look cute like the rest of the women around here but instead…. It’s cold in here and that bothers me.

Do you get cold easily? Do you know what it’s like to carry several sweaters along with you during the summer. No? That’s not a surprise. Everywhere I look everyone else is perfectly fine, the temperature isn’t phasing them one bit.

So then I start in on the “what’s wrong with me?” bit.

Why am I this way? Why can’t I be like the others? Comfortable in the clothes they’re wearing — content, not bothered, not bothered at all. Is it just me? Anyone else out there?

Surely I’m not the only one who goes through this. There must be others who are affected by temperature changes as much as I am. I’m sure if I took a poll I would find quite a few others who suffer as I do with the temperature.

I wonder… what do we have in common? What is it with our sensitivity that causes us to become cold in situations where it is not? Or to become overly cold in an otherwise comfortable space.

Is there something in the blood? Something in the genes that creates this sensitivity? Or is something missing for that matter?

I’ve often sat there and wondered why our bodies react differently than the majority. Are we doing something significantly different from the others?

I’ve read that the perception of cold begins when nerves in the skin send impulses to the brain about skin temperature. These impulses respond not only to the temperature of the skin but also to the rate of change in skin temperature.

I’ve also read some of us also may feel cold simply because of how others close to us look, a phenomenon called “cold contagion”. That’s right up there with the HSP Trait.

It’s as if we are having a sympathetic reaction to what we perceive to be cold. When in fact those we perceive to be cold may be perfectly fine but due to our perception of what we feel cold and warm should be we then react to our own understanding.

Whatever the cause may be it has got in the way of my everyday life quite significantly.

It’s summer, I go into a building, it has air-conditioning on. Instantly I have to take out one of my sweaters and put it on.

You see, what most don’t understand is, with this sensitivity, the drastic temperature changes from outside to inside, from warm to cold, are painful to me. It may sound odd to you but that is my life. This is why I must carry sweaters in the summer, so I don’t have to be in pain all the time.

When I go from cold to warm/hot, I get nauseous. But when I go from hot to cold, it’s painful. My body will start to cramp up. I clench my teeth and hold my breath. The cramping is so intense it takes my breath away. Sometimes my back will cramp up so badly that I can’t move for a moment or two. It’s very painful. Nothing I do helps except for getting as warm as possible.

If I’m at home, I’ll grab a heating pad and put it on my back. But most the time I don’t have that option. So there’s not much I can do about it except rub my arms and hope to warm up.

Most of the time I just end up suffering until I leave, or until I’m in a position to get warm. It’s a very unpleasant experience and one that’s felt each time I go from hot to cold. It can make everyday life challenging.

One of the worst parts is when you want to go outside and enjoy nature, as Sensitives like to do, but you’ve been inside all day, inside with the AC, so you have pants and a long sleeve shirt on.

So you debate whether you should change into shorts or just suffer the heat. That depends on how long I’m going to be out there. Will I stay for a while? If yes then I probably would change. Am I just going to sit there a minute to feel the wind, hear the birds then go back in? If yes,  then I could probably suffer it.

Either way you have to decide something. So then that makes it a choice of comfort. Whatever makes me more comfortable then I do that. Do I expend the energy to change or do I sit there hot? Yup, choices.

So the pain, discomfort, and inconvenience makes this sensitivity one that’s challenging to bear. It almost feels like I don’t have any control and to make it worse the sensation is a painful one. There’s not much of anything I can do.

In these cases I simply breathe deeply and try to get through it. By the time it’s over and I’m home safe and warm I’m completely exhausted. And this is just everyday life for this Sensitive.

How about you my fellow Sensitives, do you have a sensitivity that causes disruption in your life like this? Having to alter or fight through circumstances on a daily basis? Something that’s part of your life? If so, how have you adapted?


Pic credit via rihaij

Shannon is a Highly Sensitive Person and an Introvert. She is a coach for Highly Sensitive People. She is an advocate for breaking the stigma on mental health. She loves laughter, kittens and helping people live their best lives.


  • Laura

    For me being to warm, hot or sweating or humidity. Humidity even if it’s cooler out bothers me. Being uncomfortable overtakes me and I cannot function except maybe to mow lawn !

    • Shannon Garza

      Yes! Exactly, the discomfort over takes me and I can’t do much of anything, and when I try to do something I always struggle until the discomfort subsides. I know exactly what you mean 🙂

  • Lisa

    This is similar to me. I always need my arms to be covered in order to feel warm, as any air flow makes me feel chilly and I do not enjoy it. I hate cold weather because it makes me feel so cold. I wear cardigans and long pants to work year round even in 30 celsius temperature, and people often ask if I’m cold. I don’t feel cold when I have my arms covered, but as soon as I take my cardigan off I start feeling chilly and I much prefer to be warm anyway.

  • Shannon

    Omgoodness! I’m the same way about my arms. I mean I’m still cold but not as cold as if it didn’t have my arms covered ya know. 😊 I don’t like the cold weather either. It literally hurts to be as cold as I get. Does it hurt you physically when it’s too cold like me? 😊

  • Robert Christopher

    I can totally relate to this! I have thought about it a lot too, in the same ways you have, is it something genetic, is it because of my body type, etc. I now realize it’s definitely my sensitivity, at work only in the colder months people gauge how cold it really is by seeing if I walk in with my thick scarf wrapped around my neck 3 times! Our building is very modern with lots of concrete and glass so as I walk through the building I can see myself in the walls of glass, as though I have this huge neck brace on lol. I sometimes keep it on until lunch time depending on how cold it is outside, as I just cannot warm up!

    The same goes with water, I have to take a hot shower and I dread the thought of having to turn off the water knowing that for 1-2 minutes I am going to freeze and tremble before I dry myself off. In Summer if I have my AC on I just want it to be comfortable, I don’t want to be in a refrigerator or feel cold at all, and I rarely turn the AC on in my car, I roll the windows down and would much rather have the outside air blowing on me. Only if the humidity is unbearable I turn on the AC and very low!

    In Winter I cannot bear the biting winds or being outside too long, I’m not a fan of snow at all, besides appreciating the beauty of the storm and how it leaves everything looking so pristine. I am a warm weather and heat loving person, but the humidity does really bother me too. These days I keep my Pellet stove fully loaded and when it’s really cold, the Wood stove in my basement! If I have one allergy, I could honestly say it’s to the Cold!

  • jean

    Cold – YES! It’s difficult working in an office where non HSPs turn on the air conditioning, and it’s only about 75 degrees in the office. I have a small space heater, and turn it on, in order to survive. All winter, all summer – that space heater protects me against the zealous awareness i seem to experience. Right now, it’s September in PA. I have on layers and layers. People wonder what’s “wrong” and say, “You don’t have any fat on you.” Fine. Whatever.

    • Shannon

      Oh man yup, I can relate completely. In the summer I have to wear pants when going out and take a sweater. It’s always so cold inside stores or houses but so hot out. Now with winter I’m the same as you haha. I layer up as much as I can. 2 pair of pants on, like 4 shirts and a sweater and then jacket. I totally feel you. I too have a little space heater for my room cuz my roommate likes it cold haha. Gggrr People used to say the same thing to me. I was 110lbs so I was tiny but now I got fat 😉 so they can’t say that anymore haha. But yes I totally feel you. 😊💕

  • Cerisa Dayringer

    Oh I am the exact same way. To me it seems to have to do with how much moisture is in the air, or if I get sweaty. Either way that seems to make me more sensitive to the A/C indoors or light breezes outdoors if the wind is from the north. It makes my muscles tighten up too. Now I will say I know some of us are…shall we say Intuitive to our environment? So SOMETIMES I’ve found visualization helpful. Like I’ll imagine myself covered in fire. I know it sounds weird but sometimes it’s helped to warm me up. I’ve also heard of other sensitives that for them hot or cold sensations is actually a highly intuitive answer to almost a form of a yes/no question. I have noticed I sometimes do that. Like my body will get hot if there’s something I enjoy, & cold if it’s something I don’t enjoy or wouldn’t enjoy. Also someone taught me a method of “feeling my own energy” which seemed hokey at first, but has been helpful. But it’s definitely confusing at times for sure.

    • Shannon

      Ok know what you mean. I’m very intuitive with the weather or atmospheric changes. It affects me significantly. The cold is the worst for me but the heat isn’t much better. Needles to say I stay inside most the time where I can regulate the temp. It’s hard cuz I love being outside but can only do it in fall and early spring.

      That’s very interesting abt the temp changes in your body. I’m guna have to pay attention and see if it does it to me. 🙂 Thank you so much for the comment. 🙂 🙂

  • Cerisa

    Absolutely. I’ve been studying this hsp stuff for a while & it’s fascinating.

    And samesies here. I love the outdoors but I typically do best indoors. And frequently have to layer clothes when I’m out. But I do love the Springtime. That seems best for me. I like the fall too but I think my body gets scared cuz then it knows winter is coming 🥶😅

    • Shannon

      It really is fascinating. What I love is that it has given me the tools I need to live life more comfortably rather than stressed haha.

      I know what you mean abt being scared that the cold is coming. It’s weird for me cuz I start getting cold the second the temp starts to change. It’s crazy how sensitive we are to that right 😁

      This Spring has been really nice so far. I’m in Texas so I’m surprised our temps aren’t higher haha.

      Anyway it feels nice to know there are others who can understand. Thank you so much for the comment 😊💗

  • Kevin

    Hi Shannon,

    It’s nice to see your article.
    I’m on the very end spectrum of HSP
    so noise, light, and temperature really really bother me.

    I really like summer but every time I got some cold air I dissociate, it is painful. And if I stay for too long I become sick and I have a fever (even with jackets and beanie). It’s been like that the past 3 decades of my life.
    If I can be angry, people are too spoilt, what is so wrong with being sweaty? Unless they’re an elderly or having some certain condition.

    It is summer now and sometimes I feel suicidal when I can’t control the AC at work or in public spaces and people always made fun of me.

    I wish i could live in the countryside without noise from cars, artificial lights (neon lights), and of course no aircon. But then people in the countryside can be very close minded with me being queer 🙁

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