10 Simple Ways To Combat Sensory Overload In Adults
Regardless of the reason, or if it happens every day or only once in a blue moon, experiencing sensory overload is no fun. You feel your mind and body go from 0 to 100, and every sensory thing can feel insanely overwhelming. Finding ways to cope with this unpleasant experience can make a world of difference, especially if you’re wanting to avoid meltdowns, panic attacks, or other negative directions sensory overload can roll down. Though, if you’re an adult who experiences sensory overload, you’ve probably noticed that most of the tips out there are directed toward parents trying to help their children with sensory issues. Though for those of us adults with sensory issues, it can seem like resources and tips for us are few and far between. So, here are 10 ways you can combat sensory overload in adults, because let’s face it, it’s just not the same as when you’re a kid with sensory issues.
Evaluate and address your triggers
For some people, certain sensations like sound, light, or touch can send you spiraling toward sensory overload. For others, any sensation can set them off toward sensory overload. A good first step to handling when it comes is to understand what you tend to react to and respond to. Taking a breath and trying to understand exactly how you are feeling and why can not only help you deal with the issues at hand, but it can also help you from preventing sensory overload in the first place. This step looks different for everyone, but evaluation is always handy – understanding ourselves and how our brains work better can do so much good in all kinds of ways, it’s unsurprising it’d also help out here.
You’ve probably heard of this tried and true calm-down technique, and no, I’m not saying some deep breathing alone will always be enough to de-escalate a sensory overload situation. However, your breath is SO important in terms of regulating the vibe of your whole body. Since doing yoga regularly, I really learned the extent of how crucial your breath is. Naturally, shorter, more staccato breaths can make the situation worse. On that same note, deep breathing definitely wouldn’t hurt, and has a potential to help chill out your body.
Active Brain Break
Sometimes breaking out of whatever situation you were in, and putting yourself in a different situation can be helpful when experiencing sensory overload. I know that a lot of the time when my touch and sound sensations are overwhelmed, oftentimes getting a good burst of activity is enough to give my body the reset it needs to let my brain chill out. My personal options are going for a brisk walk, going for a skate, or even just getting out a good number of jumping jacks. I like cardio activities because they kind of let me “shake it off.”
Change the Sensory Experience
Speaking of switching things up, if we know that the loud television and bright lighting at home is what’s causing a sensory overload, we can switch the TV off and opt for some more softer lighting options. When we’re able to go right to the source and control the situation ourselves, why not? If the texture of your sweater is letting a sensory overload situation build up, we can change or even take a bath or do something that is far more soothing anyway.
Deploy the Shades
Even if the sensation that is overwhelming you isn’t light, it can help to dial it back with your other senses when one (or multiple) are feeling overloaded. One easy way to do this is to deploy your shades! Whether in your house, or in the form of sunglasses, your darker version of reality might be way more comforting when your senses are wigging out. So, take it easy, and chill out with your shades.
We all remember when fidget spinners became all the rage and for good reason! Now, there are so many different kinds of fidgets available that can help with all sorts of things, especially anxiety that might come from feeling your senses overload. If you’re able to focus on the sensation of something else, and something small and non-overwhelming, that can help drown out the rest of the world’s sensory invasions. Not all fidgets might work for you, but one that makes you feel calm is a great go-to.
Communicate Before Reacting
Ok, well what about a situation when you can’t really control the environment you’re in? In these kinds of scenarios, we can often get overwhelmed more intensely or quickly. Though, even though it seems like you’re optionless, you can work toward communicating before reacting. A lot of the time, when we’re experiencing sensory overload, we’re insanely overwhelmed and can often react in outbursts, meltdowns, panic attacks, anger, etc. These aren’t really our true feelings shining through. In actuality, we’re just overwhelmed and overstimulated. While it is hard, working to communicate with others before getting to that reaction can be awesome. It allows you to maturely communicate what your triggers are, how you’re starting to feel overloaded, and even what might end up helping you out. Communicate with others about how they can help you out, and chances are, they might be able to!
Go Somewhere Else
Though, if you’re not in control of the environment and not able to communicate before reacting, a great go-to option is to just leave. Whether you just have to exit the situation for a little bit before calming down or if you have to leave and not come back, you are taking control of the situation and your body when you choose to get up and go. This can sometimes be disappointing, especially if we’re missing out on something we were looking forward to, but understanding how to prevent meltdowns, anxiety attacks, etc. for yourself and then going ahead and preventing that from happening is a pretty powerful form of self care. You got this, take care of you.
How do you combat sensory overload in adults? Do you have any go to methods? Let us know in the comment sections below!