The high frequency nervous system of multitalented people is the engine for great creative work, but can also be a major factor in stress.
Intensity and sensitivity – a couple of the hallmarks of people with exceptional intellectual and creative potential – can encourage anxiety.
Henry Rollins has often impressed me with his energy and passion.
Excitabilites / Overexcitabilities
In a 1988 interview, Rollins said, “Yes, I’m a very excitable person. I was on Ritalin for like 8 years. I was a wild young man. That’s why I was sent to discipline school for 7 years.
“Yeah, that’s the way I feel music.. I freak out because the music just drives me crazy. I go nuts and if I wasn’t in shape I would just rip myself apart. I love physical exertion.”
That may also be a good description of Overexcitabilities – “inborn intensities indicating a heightened ability to respond to stimuli.
“Found to a greater degree in creative and gifted individuals, overexcitabilities are expressed in increased sensitivity, awareness, and intensity, and represent a real difference in the fabric of life and quality of experience.”
The Psychomotor form of excitability or intensity includes a “capacity for being active and energetic, love of movement for its own sake, surplus of energy demonstrated by rapid speech, zealous enthusiasm, intense physical activity, and a need for action..”
[From article Overexcitability and the gifted, by Sharon Lind.]
Our high speed life
An interesting UK site Pace of Life reports on an international study to measure the speed of life in various cities.
A quiz on the site includes these items: Do people tell you that you talk too quickly? When someone takes too long to get to the point, do you feel like hurrying them along?
These questions supposedly indicate living a fast-paced life, but maybe they equally characterize being gifted.
Traits and characteristics
My site page on Self-tests : giftedness / high ability includes these Sample Questions from the book “The Gifted Adult”:
I have always had an insatiable curiosity.
I am able to run my mind on multiple tracks at the same time.
I am often considered a “driven” person.
I can and do work myself to exhaustion.
Hyped up life can be draining
Frenetic, over-scheduled lifestyles affect many or most residents of major cities around the world, especially when there is so much pressure to multitask.
See my article Multitasking – or optimal performance.
Not only inefficient, multitasking can be energy depleting.
It can be helpful to concentrate on doing less at a time, more effectively. I am finding it helps to cut down on watching TV while working on the computer, for example.
More alive – more stress, anxiety
Dancer Martha Graham declared, “No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
Yes, more alive – but also more vulnerable to stress.
Psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski found that the most gifted and creative individuals he worked with, during times of crisis “exhibited so-called neurotic symptoms – intense inner conflict, feelings of inferiority toward their own ideals, feelings of inadequacy, shame and guilt, and existential anxiety and despair.”
From my article Gifted and Stressed.
So what to do about anxiety, stress, overload?
Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy
From the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966) by Simon & Garfunkel — quoted in the post Slow down, you move too fast on the site Coaching Wizardry – Living Life On Purpose.
Regaining emotional balance
Mindfulness and meditation are effective strategies for slowing down and regaining more equilibrium.
In Ten Zen Seconds for Purpose, Power and Calm, my interview with therapist and creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD about his book (the image is from the cover) on the topics of breath awareness and centering as a strategy to feel less scattered, distracted, chaotic, anxious, and nervous,
I asked him about an enduring mythology about creative inspiration and performing as an actor, for example – that it benefits from an “edge” of nervous tension or even anxiety.
Dr. Maisel replied, “It isn’t at all clear that tension or anxiety is what’s needed for peak performance and lifelong creativity. They may be unavoidable by-products of the difficulties that we face as we try to do large things and connected to our fear of failing, fear of making messes and mistakes, and so on, but they are not beneficial per se.”
He details in his book Ten Zen Seconds: Twelve Incantations for Purpose, Power and Calm a practice combining deep breathing with “incantations” (phrases to focus thinking), designed to facilitate greater awareness, resolve and other benefits including stress management.
Energy psychiatrist Judith Orloff, MD works with many actors, directors and others, and affirms, “Creative people are extremely sensitive. Their neurologic systems are very finely tuned, and open to all kinds of energies from the outside.
“So it’s important that they protect their energies and nurture them, and not be overwhelmed. And to learn strategies that center themselves, and not absorb everything around them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to really create and manifest all their fantastic talent.”
She includes in the book a three-minute meditation to control social anxiety, stage fright, and other varieties of anxiety.
A much more in-depth approach to meditation is available with Holosync programs from Centerpointe Research Institute.
See multiple articles by Bill Harris in which he explains the research behind this binaural beat sound technology that fairly quickly facilitates the brain slowing and synchronization found after years of traditional meditation.
Stress and anxiety relief articles, products: