The pandemic has fundamentally altered how we perceive and interact with the world, causing what is being referred to as a "sensory revolution" and further altering the way we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell in a constantly changing environment. Overstimulation, also known as sensory overload, has always been "a thing."
According to Mary Hoang, founder and primary psychologist of online counselling service, "overstimulation, or sensory overload, occurs when your five senses are absorbing more input than they can essentially digest." All sounds, from the hum of the air conditioner to the nearby small conversation, affect you when you're overstimulated.
Highly sensitive people react to external stimuli more intensely. Everybody has a different level of arousal or stimulation, according to Dr. Elaine Aron's book “The Highly Sensitive Person”. This includes their responses to several senses, including, but not limited to, sight, sound, smell, touch, pain, and taste.
Causes for overstimulation could range from chronic stress, over-consumption of social media and news, or even caffeine intake. It is often recommended to always be in touch with your feelings and satiate accordingly. Limiting or creating healthy boundaries could help combat the issue of overstimulation.
1. You stay away from social events.
If you discover that you avoid parties and other large gatherings because you get overwhelmed, which is common among HSPs, this could be a sure sign of overstimulation. You have no control over any of the awkward social circumstances, including the loud voices, laughing, and hugging. If you do attend such parties, you typically leave early or are visible by yourself in a quiet area.
2. Multitasking is challenging
You find it difficult to listen to multiple things at once, much as attempting to talk to someone while watching TV. You simply can't, and even attempting is frustrating. The same holds true for simultaneous speaking by several people. It becomes too much for you to concentrate.
3. Extreme sensitivity to materials
Do you frequently switch out your clothes in the morning because certain fabrics itch or are uncomfortable? You know you'll have a bad day if you don't. With such extreme sensitivity you stick with one particular fabric for all your wardrobe. This could be a tell tale sign of overstimulation.
4. White noise is necessary to aid with sleep
In order to sleep, you probably want white noise to drown out all other sounds so you can just drift off. Additionally, due to the constant worn-out, and overstimulated senses, sleep is extremely crucial.
5. You are greatly impacted by temperature
You are also more sensitive to temperature than others. The fluctuations in temperature affect you more than others. This is yet another sign of overstimulation.
8. You stay away from stores with overpowering scents
You steer clear of stores with overpowering fragrances, such as the department store fragrance counter, bath and body shops, and candle stores. This kind of odor sensitivity may indicate chemical sensitivity.
Overstimulation could definitely make you feel very annoyed and frustrated. Always make sure to identify your triggers and create a quiet, compassionate space for yourselves as much as possible.