Overstimulation: How to Stop & Prevent It

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:15
The best ways to stop being overstimulatedOverstimulation is a state caused by too much sensory input. Everything around you triggers one or more of your senses, and when too much information is being processed at once, you can quickly...
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Overstimulation is a state caused by too much sensory input. Everything around you triggers one or more of your senses, and when too much information is being processed at once, you can quickly become overwhelmed. Sensory overload is no joke and can leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and uneasy. So, how do you stop it? In this article, we’ll teach you some easy ways to handle sensory overload and prevent overstimulation no matter where you are.

Things You Should Know

  • Combat overstimulation by replacing overstimulating activities with calm ones, such as reading a book, cuddling a pet, or coloring.
  • Take breaks between meetings, tasks, and activities to ensure you have enough time to decompress and relax.
  • Limit your screen time to avoid visual overstimulation by cutting back on how much you use social media and watch TV.
Method 1
Method 1 of 3:

Stopping Overstimulation

  1. Step 1 Do a calming activity to help yourself relax.
    Certain activities can help you relax when you’re overstimulated. Plus, they can even help prevent overstimulation before it starts! For example, try one of these activities when you start to feel overwhelmed by your environment:[1]
    • Read a book
    • Listen to calming music
    • Give yourself a massage
    • Cuddle with a pet
    • Color
    • Soak in a warm bath
    • Journal
  2. Step 2 Use mindfulness...
    Use mindfulness to ground yourself in the moment. Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment, which can help you avoid getting anxious. Be more mindful by engaging your 5 senses by:[2]
    • Focusing on what you can see. Describe it to yourself, or look for a color
    • Listening to what you can hear. Try to pick out the individual sounds you hear, like the rustling of leaves.
    • Sniffing the air to see what you can smell. For instance, maybe you smell oncoming rain or freshly baked cookies.
    • Concentrating on your sense of touch to see what you can feel around you. For instance, feel the textures of items around you or notice how the wind feels against your skin.
    • Sipping on a cup of tea or eating a hard candy to stimulate your sense of taste.
  3. Step 3 Practice deep breathing...
    Practice deep breathing exercises to relax your body and mind. Overstimulation can make it difficult to breathe. Combat this feeling by inhaling slowly for a count of 5, then holding your breath for a count of 5. Next, exhale slowly to a count of 5, emptying your lungs. Continue to breathe to a 5 until you feel relaxed and less anxious.[3]
    • As another option, inhale deeply to fill your lungs with air, then put your finger over 1 nostril. Slowly exhale through your uncovered nostril. Switch sides and repeat.
  4. Step 4 Meditate...
    Meditate when you feel overwhelmed to calm your mind. Overstimulation can make you feel anxious, stressed, and nervous. Push these feelings and any other worries aside by stepping into your own personal little love cave—you can protect yourself. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. If your mind wanders away from your breath, gently bring your attention back to it. Sit for at least 10 minutes.[4]
    • If you struggle to focus on your breath, try counting your breaths with each inhale.
    • Use a meditation app, like Insight Timer, Headspace, and Calm, to help guide you through a peaceful and uplifting practice anywhere.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 3:

Removing Stimulations

  1. Step 1 Change your environment and move to a relaxing location.
    Sometimes, all you need to feel better is a quiet place to close your eyes and breathe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself a break from stimulations by finding a secluded room or area where you can be with your thoughts and reset.[5]
    • For example, sit outside in nature, relax in your favorite chair, or go to a room with peaceful decor.
    • Say you’re overstimulated at work. When your meeting is over, excuse yourself to your office to destress and relax in a familiar and relaxing environment.
    • This technique works wonderfully for children as well. If a child is overstimulated by their environment, bring them to a quiet, peaceful area where they can regain their energy at their own pace.
  2. Step 2 Quiet background noise.
    Noises are every day stimulates that can make you feel overwhelmed. Televisions, radios, or anything else making noise can create uneasiness and stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, silence any unnecessary background noise to help calm your surroundings and mind.[6]
    • If people or pets are making noise, try to quiet them down or move to another room.
    • If you can't reduce the noise, use earplugs or headphones to drown out the noise.
    • As another option, try listening to calming music or nature sounds to create a more relaxing, peaceful, and desensitizing environment.
  3. Step 3 Dim the lights to cut down visual stimuli.
    Sometimes, you just need to give your eyes a break! Turn off the lights or close the drapes in your quiet, relaxing location (if you can). This way, you can give your wandering mind a break as there’s not much to look at.[7]
    • Similarly, pick a quiet location to reset that doesn’t have many pictures on the walls or things you can read. Words and images can be stimulating.
    • Try covering your eyes with an eye mask if you can’t remove all visual stimuli from a space.
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Method 3
Method 3 of 3:

Making Lifestyle Changes

  1. Step 1 Build breaks into your schedule to give yourself time to rest.
    Doing too much can overstimulate you, so try to rest daily. Scheduling breaks to unwind and take it easy throughout the day can help you recharge between activities and avoid overstimulation.[8]
    • For example, you might build rest into your schedule by taking a coffee break in the morning, relaxing for 10 minutes on your lunch break, taking an afternoon break, and doing a hobby for 30 minutes in the evening.
    • If you get overstimulated often, review your schedule to ensure you’re not pushing yourself to do too much. Try incorporating at least 1 break between each meeting, task, or activity.
  2. Step 2 Limit time spent on your phone, especially social media.
    Scrolling on your phone may be a fun way to pass the time, but it can also stress your mind with flashing visuals and rapid information. Set a timer for 30 minutes or an hour when you’re dilly-dallying on your phone to limit your media consumption. When the timer goes off, turn off your phone and try a different time-passing activity (like reading, exercising, or playing with a pet).[9]
    • When you feel overwhelmed, try putting your phone in another room so you’re less tempted to check it.
    • Apps like Offtime and Forest are great ways to reduce screen time, as they give you incentives for stepping away from your phone.
  3. Step 3 Watch no more than 2 hours of TV each day.
    TV is a visual stimulant that can overwhelm you if you watch too much. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to watch less TV. Set time limits for yourself, or only plan to watch 2 episodes of a show after work. Studies have shown that watching more than 2 hours of TV at a time can cause overstimulation.[10]
    • Although binge-watching TV can be fun, it’s not a great idea if you frequently deal with feeling visually overstimulated, which can result in headaches, eye strain, and spiraling thoughts.
  4. Step 4 Limit your caffeine...
    Limit your caffeine intake. Most adults can safely drink up to 4 cups of coffee a day; however, some are especially sensitive to caffeine. If you’ve been feeling extra jittery or anxious lately, consider cutting back on how much coffee, soda, and energy drinks you drink. Do this gradually to avoid any withdrawal symptoms and get your body back on track.[11]
    • For instance, drink smaller cups of coffee or cut down to 1 caffeinated drink a day. Then, give yourself a week to adjust to the lower level of caffeine before you make another cut.
    • If you feel jittery after drinking a small amount of caffeine, you may want to completely cut it out of your diet.
    • If you like the taste of coffee, switch to decaf to still enjoy your morning brew.
  5. Step 5 Avoid large crowds if you get overwhelmed around people.
    Being in a large crowd exposes you to noise, visual, and touch stimuli. If packs of people trigger your anxiety or make you feel stressed, do your best to avoid crowds whenever possible. This way, you can have more control over how much stimulation you experience in public.[12]
    • For example, go to the grocery store at non-peak hours when everyone’s at school or order curbside service (if your grocery store offers it). Similarly, purchase items online rather than going to a packed mall.
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