Sensory overload is a state of excessive or overwhelming sensory stimulation. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as loud noises, bright lights, crowds, or strong smells. People who experience sensory overload may feel anxious, irritable, overwhelmed, and even have meltdowns.
There are a number of things you can do to cope with sensory overload. Here are some tips:
Identify your triggers
What are the things that typically cause you to feel overwhelmed? Once you know your triggers, you can develop strategies for avoiding them or coping with them in a healthy way. For example, if you are sensitive to noise, you may want to avoid crowded places or wear noise-canceling headphones. If you are sensitive to light, you may want to wear sunglasses or use a dim light in your bedroom.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break from the stimulating environment. Go for a walk, listen to calming music, or do some deep breathing exercises. Even a few minutes of break time can help you to reset and feel better.
Use grounding techniques
Grounding techniques can help you to connect with your body and the present moment. This can be helpful when you are feeling overwhelmed. Some examples of grounding techniques include:
- Focusing on your breath
- Wiggling your toes
- Feeling your feet on the ground
- Naming the objects you see around you
Use sensory tools
There are a variety of sensory tools that can help to reduce sensory overload. These tools can help to block out noise, reduce glare, or provide other sensory input. Some examples of sensory tools include:
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Fidget toys
- Weighted blankets
Talk to someone you trust
Talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or other trusted person can help you to process your emotions and develop coping strategies. They can also offer support and encouragement.
It is also important to remember that sensory overload is a spectrum. Some people are more sensitive to sensory stimuli than others. And, what triggers one person may not trigger another. It is important to listen to your body and identify what works best for you.
How to handle sensory overload in specific situations:
At a crowded event
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the noise and crowds, try to find a quiet place to take a break. You can also try wearing noise-canceling headphones or sunglasses.
At the grocery store
The bright lights and strong smells at the grocery store can be overwhelming for people with sensory overload. Try to go shopping during off-peak hours when the store is less crowded. You can also try wearing sunglasses and a mask to reduce stimulation.
At work or school
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the noise and activity in your work or school environment, try to find a quiet place to take a break. You can also try using noise-canceling headphones or fidget toys to help reduce stimulation.
If you or anyone you know is struggling to cope with sensory overload, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can teach you additional coping skills and help you to develop a plan for managing your sensory needs. At Salt River Therapy, our experienced professionals can support you in learning about Sensory overload and how to keep it under control. Start now — click the button below to schedule a free phone consultation.