Experience suggests that stress in HSPs may be different than for non-HSPs.
What is the definition of stress? Believe it or not there is no widely accepted definition of stress. Why? Because it is a subjective sensation and not easily defined by the scientific community.
It is, therefore, hard to quantify stress since what is stress for one person is not stress for another.
Some dictionaries define stress as “physical, mental , or emotional strain or tension” or “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize” according to the American Institute of Stress. When people say stress they usually mean an unpleasant sensation, a cause for concern, an experience of not being able to meet a threat or challenge.
Sometimes people use the phrase positive stress, which is shorthand for a challenge that stretches us but one that we know we can meet. It is probably more useful to separate challenges and stress in one’s mind since stress implies the idea of depleting resources whereas, challenge suggests a building up of resources.
Stress From A Different Point of View
The American lifestyle is a stress-creating lifestyle. Americans work too many hours, often do not have enough sleep to sustain themselves, eat too much and often the wrong foods, spend too many hours on visual entertainment, and exercise little. It is very difficult to manage stress of the American lifestyle because there are so many stressors and so many different types of stress. Since most people are very busy, they often default to dealing with stress issues when the consequences of too much stress becomes urgent. Frequently much damage to the body has been done before the crisis emerges.
Approaching stress from a holistic perspective creates the opportunity to view stress from multiple, different perspectives, from the specific to the general.
There are three major reasons to look at stress from a holistic perspective:
- The signs of stress once they are apparent can be hard to reverse. Many chronic illnesses can be thought of as the consequence of a form of unaddressed stress over a long period of time.
- When an individual has a complete picture of their stress needs, that individual is more empowered and more likely to be effective in minimizing stress. It is possible to identify the areas of stress that are most problematic and as a result set priorities in tackling stress issues.
- Lower stress means lower medical needs and lower medical costs, which can only improve quality of life.
HSPs need to ask themselves the question: “What is stress for me?”
With some insight it is possible to then think holistically about stress by taking a step back in order to move forward in a better, more effective way.