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Written by Sarah Kirton | Updated On April 01, 2023

Julie Staub on HSP

Julie Staub on HSP

Julie Staub is an HSP Lifestyle Coach and Certified Holistic Wellness Coach. She describes her journey as an HSP herself, and how she was able to turn this trait into a powerful tool to help others heal and grow.

What is Integrative Nutrition?

Integrative Nutrition or The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, is the Holistic Health Coach certification program I started in 2005, and completed in 2006, when living in New York City. I was actually fortunate enough to be a part of the in-person certification program before the school grew so large they switched to all online/digital classes for the certification. That experience really grounded me in holistic health and how our healing and growth is influenced by primary foods and secondary foods. Primary foods being our Relationships, Spirituality and Career choices and our secondary foods are the foods we eat (nutrition) and the kind of movement or exercise we incorporate into our lives. When you look at all of these parts, we can approach our health and wellbeing from a holistic perspective. 

Could you tell us a little about your background and how it has influenced your life?

My background is very colorful! I’ve always gone my own way and my path always looked a lot different from others. I moved to NYC in 2002, 9 months after 9/11. I was at a crossroads in my life after a sudden romantic relationship breakup, and knew I wanted to make a big shift in my life and move from the Midwest. I chose to make the move from Iowa to NYC because I knew everything is possible in New York City. After another intense breakup in NYC, I started to work with an energy healer for 6 months to mend that part of me that had been so victimized by that damaging experience. I learned about the chakras, meditation, intuitives, healers and alternative health practices. It was through meditation with this group of like minds that led me to researching holistic health and signing up for Integrative Nutrition. Oddly enough, when I attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), I was given the book, The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron as part of our curriculum. 

Each weekend we attended school, we were given a huge bag of books to use as resources for our learning but also to build our resource library for future clients once we began our health coaching practice. However, I never read that book and it continued to sit on my bookshelf for years to come. At the time, I did not know I was an HSP and when I reflect back on that period of my life, I did not like being associated with the word “sensitive” because it had such a negative connotation in our society and culture. Not knowing what the term Highly Sensitive Person meant, I even associated it with being weak, fragile and overly emotional. 

I was in my late 20s at the time, and considered myself more of an extrovert. In reality, I was just a good chameleon, which is common for HSPs; having to adapt to a world that does not work for us. It wasn’t until 2018 after working with a friend and client to restart my coaching practice that I learned about this trait through the movie, Sensitive, which explained me to a tee! That’s when I started my deep dive on the trait and knew I needed to serve and support Highly Sensitive People as a Holistic Wellness Coach and HSP Lifestyle Coach. HSPs have some unique challenges mentally, emotionally and physically. I wanted to educate, advocate and raise awareness about this trait to let the world know we existed and to let other HSPs (who didn’t know they were an HSP or who had never heard of this trait) that there was nothing wrong with us – we are just wired differently! And it’s important for us to lean into those biological differences to live our best authentic lives versus denying that part of our biology to fit in with others and our cultural and societal norms.

Why did you decide to focus on HSPs?

Well, for starters, I am an HSP. 🙂 I learned about this innate biological trait in 2018 after watching the movie, Sensitive. Once I discovered that this was a real thing; a fully researched trait based on science, and biological differences, I knew I needed to learn as much about this trait as I could so I could let other HSPs (who didn’t know they were HSPs) know who they really are! I knew how much knowing about this trait impacted my life and made all the difference in the world for me personally, and I wanted that awareness and validation for other HSPs who hadn’t heard of the trait and didn’t know they were an HSP. And as a Holistic Wellness Coach and HSP Lifestyle Coach, I knew how important it was for HSPs to take care of ourselves to really BE in this world. When we don’t take care of ourselves, HSPs are more prone to mental, emotional, and physical dysregulation that creates all sorts of problems if not addressed, such as anxiety, depression, chronic health conditions, mystery physical symptoms, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, sleep issues, overwhelm, overstimulation, chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases, etc…

Tell us about your HSP Community on Clubhouse.

Ever since I got on the Clubhouse app, January 1, 2021, my focus has been to create visibility and community for HSPs in Clubhouse. I founded The Highly Sensitive People Club in Clubhouse at the beginning of March 2021. I knew it was important for HSPs to build community and connect with other HSPs to feel seen, heard and validated as a part of our survival. It was important for me to create a welcoming, safe and sacred space for HSPs to connect, have fun, learn, heal, grow and expand through our HSP Superpowers. Being involved in HSPs lives like this has been so rewarding! I have been able to make connections with other HSPs (and supporters of HSPs) from all over the world that I would never have met if it wasn’t for this all-audio real time app. As a deep processor and feeler, I felt more comfortable engaging in this arena, not only because it was less overwhelming to my senses, but I was able to connect with voices (versus written word or social media posts) to build authentic and genuine connections. 

Do you think the emergence of more HSPs can be put down to this manic world we are born into?

This trait has been studied for some time but it was not given a name until Elaine Aron’s research emerged in the mid-90s. She coined the term, Highly Sensitive People, based on her Sensory Processing Sensitivity scale and part of her motivation came from her interaction with her own therapist as she talked through her own awareness of her sensitivities. Even though Elaine Aron’s research brought this into the mainstream in the mid-90s, it is still not widely recognized or known through psychotherapists. 

This is why I am so passionate about educating and advocating for this trait. We may only make up 20% of the population, but I think those numbers may be even higher as HSPs start to learn there is no need to mask our sensitive nature to blend in. I have even heard more recent research suggesting that it’s more like 30% of the population now versus when Elaine Aron first presented her research. I think there are more HSPs with the younger generations and we will start to see more and more sensitive and empathetic people emerging, to support our growth and awareness so ultimately we can live in a way that supports a greater collective consciousness. We are the healers, teachers, peace makers, ministers, coaches, therapists, creatives, advocates, activists, and outside-the-box thinkers that deeply care about our environment and the world around us so we can all live in peace and harmony on this planet. 

Do you see this evolving over the next few decades?

Yes! I see more and more HSPs are being born with the younger generations. Elaine Aron refers to HSPs as the “Royal Advisors” because we have the ability to deeply process information and make decisions from a bird’s eye view, consider so many viewpoints and consider decision making that prioritizes the greater good. If we want to have a safe and healthy planet to live on in ten years, we NEED more HSPs to help us grow and evolve as humans. 

What role does spirituality play in your healing process?

Spirituality has always been a part of my life, but has shown up differently over the decades. My healing journey has also evolved over the years and even at 45, I know there is always something inside of me that needs healing. Healing is a process and practice, not a destination. We are human after all and no one has it all figured out. Spirituality, for me, is deepening that connection and bond with myself (trusting myself), my spirit guides and my ancestors who have come before me. It’s about getting comfortable with what brings us discomfort and using spiritual tools and practices to nurture our faith and trust our own inner guidance system. I believe we are all one, and through our own healing work, we create space for others to heal and get in touch with their own healing journey. This is why I have always been interested in being a guide, teacher and coach, so others have the opportunity to heal, grow and evolve as well. 

Can people ever become non-HSPs ?

No, I don’t believe HSPs can become non-HSPs. This is an innate, biological trait based on scientific research which means we were born this way. There is nothing wrong with us and there is nothing broken that we need to fix. And to be clear, HSPs and Empaths are not the same thing which has been a common misconception, and is often brought up in the HSP rooms I host in Clubhouse. 

Even though some people can be both an HSP and Empath, an HSP is not always an Empath and an Empath is not always an HSP. HSPs sense the world through their sensitive nervous system and Empaths sense the world through their feelings and emotions. HSPs are more empathetic due to their biology versus their feelings and emotions. Based on research, there are parts of their brain that are more active such as the insula, amygdala and mirror neurons which make them more emotionally responsive and empathetic to others.

About the author
Sarah is a keen and passionate advocate of the spiritual and healing components within the mystical realm of the world we live in. She resides in Cape Town, South Africa, where she enjoys spending time in the outdoors, kite surfing, and playing guitar.