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HSPs suffer from typical everyday stresses and some types of stress unique to them due to their different biological makeup. There are many causes of stress and factors that contribute to HSP stress.

The most common types of stress include: physical stress, emotional stress, mental stress, social stress, process and time stress, cultural, systemic and value stress.

Causes of Stress

Physical stress factors are poor food, unsuitable diet, too little sleep, poor hygiene, excessive noise, bright lights, strong scents, all kinds of chemicals in household products, paints, and clothes, overly strenuous physical labor, heavy lifting, heavy labor inappropriate for one’s age, multitasking, too many hours of work, too much sun, extreme and sudden changes in weather, excessive speed or changes in speed, all forms of environmental pollution.

Mental stress factors include worry, anxiety, fear, impossible expectations or demands, unreasonable expectations or demands, inappropriate expectations or demands, inflexible thinking, resistance to necessary change, powerlessness.

Emotional stress factors can be feelings of fear and dread, rejection, abandonment, anger as well as guilt, shame, embarrassment and humiliation. Emotional stress can result from extreme situations like bullying.

Cultural stress is created when there is a poor fit between the person and their societal structures. It can include competitive culture, activities and rituals, expectations of conformity around marriage, parenting, and life purpose.

Stresses related to change are common and varied. Some more common ones are moving, adding to the family, marriage, divorce, family members having difficulties, and unexpected social demands and expectations.

Time stress is so much a part of our daily lives in the form of aggressive deadlines, too much work in a short period of time, too many claims on one’s attention.

Process stress: any situation which is poorly managed resulting in lots of crises and unnecessary problems. Often process stress comes from our relationship with institutions but it can occur in any area of our lives. Many people experience process stress in working with our healthcare system.

Big Picture Stress

It is ironic that we can become glued to the television to be aware of potential stressful emerging conditions in the world and at the same time, use television to escape those stresses.

The sheer volume of details and issues in front of the average person at any given point of time, can be daunting. As the world grows in complexity and knowledge we are still limited by the fact that we can give our attention to one thing at a time. No matter how good you become at juggling, you still have that limitation and how you choose to handle it is very important to your well being.

When stress prevents the molecules of emotion from flowing freely where needed, the largely autonomic processes that are regulated by peptide flow such as breathing, blood flow, digestion and elimination, collapse down to a few feedback loops and upset the normal healing response.

Candace B. Pert, Ph.D., Molecules of Emotion, Scribner, New York, 1997, p.
242-243.

Highly sensitive people have to be particularly careful about information and media related stress. It is one of the types of stress that can be difficult for the naturally investigative HSPs to manage well. Choosing to work with time limitations in the most constructive way possible, can help reduce the signs of stress caused by information overload and excessive time pressure.

Cumulative Types of Stress

Accumulated stress can be thought of as another type of stress. When stress is unrelenting it will accumulate since we are not able to take the time, for whatever reason, to restore our bodies and psyches. If the stresses come from many directions, work, home etc., then we may not notice the stress accumulation taking place.