Tag Archives: anxiety

Are you a sensitive person?

Are you a sensitive person? Then you are not alone. Many people are sensitive, and I don’t mean in an emotional sense(although they sometimes go together), or sensitive to chemicals, I mean when it comes to outside stimuli.

For a lot of people, noise is the bane of their existence It is almost like torture to them, or at least very distracting. Others don’t like to be touched. Numerous people have a very sensitive sense of smell, to the point that they can’t stand perfume. People who have very sensitive taste-buds tend to avoid spicy, bitter or sour foods. At least a few have sensitive eyes, and avoid sunlight unless they wear very dark sunglasses. It’s rare, but some people may be universally sensitive to the point they wish they could live in a protective bubble.

In the very least, very sensitive people do need a lot more time to be alone and unwind. While it’s not the same thing as pain sensitivity, the two are probably linked.

But what does this even mean? This is an under-explored area of psychology, in part because it isn’t necessarily a condition or something that can be diagnosed. But it is one of those things that you know if you have it or not, especially when you realize most people don’t react the way you do to certain things. It may or may not be linked with certain disorders, but it is not, in and of itself, a disorder.

Due to noise sensitivity, I for one find it impossible to go to nightclubs. The music is way too loud to the point that I can’t function in such an environment. I similarly can’t go to most sporting events or concerts. I sleep with ear-muffs. I don’t necessarily see this as a limitation since I don’t care for these kinds of things anyway.

Being sensitive to noise may help me appreciate music and may have even helped me develop the rhythm necessary for joggling long distances. It may even be useful for creativity. It’s not well understood what ultimately causes some people to be more sensitive than others, but it is definitely at least partly genetic in origin. Some “normal” people may not understand that not everyone is wired the same way, and can’t understand why us sensitives don’t enjoy the same things they enjoy.

If you are extremely sensitive and wish you weren’t, there isn’t a whole lot to help you unless your sensitivity is linked with some kind of anxiety or medical disorder, or you alter your life to avoid certain triggers. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “switch” that we can turn down to make us less sensitive, except perhaps through drugs which I do not recommend.

If you are sensitive, how do you deal with it? What are its main drawbacks for you? And what are its advantages, if any?

Can you relieve stress with juggling?

For me, the answer is definitely yes, but this isn’t evidence that it can help others deal with stress. Few things are like juggling 3 or 4 balls, and doing tricks to forget about certain stressful problems or to gain a different perspective on them. It puts me into a different brain zone where it seems problems are both smaller and more manageable. Indeed, effectively dealing with various responsibilities and stressful problems is not unlike a juggling act.

What does science have to say about this? We are very fortunate that some scientists did put the title question of this post to the test and did some good, though preliminary research: Effect of juggling therapy on anxiety disorders in female patients published in Biopsychosoc Med. 2007; 1: 10:

After 6 months, an analysis of variance revealed that scores on the state anxiety, trait anxiety subscales of STAI and tension-anxiety (T-A) score of POMS were significantly lower in the juggling group than in the non-juggling group (p < 0.01). Depression, anger-hostility scores of POMS were improved more than non-jugglers. In the juggling group, activity scores on the vigor subscale of POMS and FAI score were significantly higher than those in the non juggling group (p < 0.01). Other mood scores of POMS did not differ between the two groups.

These findings suggest that juggling therapy may be effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

This sounds promising, but this study did have many limitations. For one thing, it involved only 17 people, all of them female. Also, the effect from the juggling may be due to the juggling helping the test subjects relax; any other relaxation therapy may have achieved the same results. Similarly, juggling is a form of light exercise, which can also help relieve anxiety. Unlike yoga or meditation, juggling does increase gray matter in the brain, possibly in a manner that may make it more resistant to stress or depression, although this is speculation on my part. After all, a person whose brain is more “adaptive” is probably better able to adapt to stressful conditions. I think the control/non juggling group in this study should have done light aerobic exercise, to see how juggling compares to exercise in general.

There is also the issue of EMDR therapy that was covered in the study:

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been consistently evaluated as effective for treating several anxiety disorders, inclucing PTSD [6], panic disorders [7], and phobias [8]. Although conflicting data has been reported for the efficacy of EMDR [9], this therapy is considered to be of low to moderate level of efficacy [10]. Originally, research on this therapy found that moving the eyes rapidly in a side-to-side motion reduced disturbing thoughts and related anxiety [11].

So rapidly moving the eyes side-to-side, all by all by itself can help relieve anxiety? That is intriguing. I suggest reading the full study since there is a lot of interesting information in there. This research is promising, but a lot more needs to be done.