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RHS ECHO: Online student news

RHS ECHO: Online student news

Overstimulation, a sign of sensory overload

Lillian Webb

“Overstimulated.” We’ve all heard the word before. What does overstimulation really mean?  

According to Medical News Today, “Sensory overload happens when one or more of the body’s five senses become overwhelmed…In these situations, the brain receives too much information to be able to process it properly. Sensory overload leads to feelings of discomfort that range from mild to intense.”

There are many different circumstances that can lead to overstimulation. It’s important to keep in mind that everybody will respond differently to excessive sensory input. Some people might not be bothered by bright lights, whereas others may not be able to focus on anything other than how bright a room is. 

According to Heal Your Nervous System, “Some of the most common symptoms include: difficulties focusing, restlessness and agitation, excessive irritability, mental fatigue or “brain fog,” an aversion to sensory input, the feeling of discomfort in environments with many people or bright lights, heightened sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights, and textures and fabrics that are uncomfortable to touch.”

Have you ever watched your computer screen function normally and suddenly leave you with a buffering sign in your face? Then, you look up to your tab bar, realize that you’ve accidentally left 24 tabs open? Once you close some of the tabs, the buffering stops for a second, but restarts in just a few moments. Finally, you decide to close out any tabs you’re not using and the buffering circle disappears for good. The computer was experiencing too much stimuli, but once it was removed, it could focus on the necessary task of loading the screen you were using. If a computer can experience overstimulation, of course your human brain can too. Overstimulation can happen similarly for a human brain. Once you remove some of the stimuli, you begin to feel better. When you remove all unnecessary stimuli, the overstimulation stops. 

It’s important to understand why so many “tabs” are open in the first place and what to do about it.  “Sensory overload occurs when the brain struggles to interpret, prioritize, or otherwise process sensory inputs. It then communicates to the body that it is time to escape these sensory inputs. This message causes feelings of discomfort and panic…In some people who experience sensory overload regularly, such as those with a sensory processing disorder, there may be a biological basis for these processing problems,” explains Medical News Today.

Sensory overload happens because of a multitude of different reasons, however, there are things you can do during a period of sensory overload that can help ease or stop the chaos. 

According to Heal Your Nervous System, “In the short term, here are some other simple practices that may help you: unplug from your devices,…take deep breaths,…ground yourself in the present moment,… get physical movement,… connect with nature,… [and] talk to someone.”

People experience overstimulation diversely. Some people may never be overstimulated and others might be overstimulated seven times a week.When there is too much sensory stimuli for the brain to process, it can leave a person feeling a variety of emotions. Some people are more prone to sensory overload than others. Though it is perfectly normal to experience overstimulation, adopting some grounding practices will help quiet your mental buffering.

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About the Contributor
Lillian Webb
Lillian Webb, Webmaster
Hello, my name is Lillian and I am a junior this year. It is my second year on the staff, and my first year as the Webmaster. I’m in band, German club, and Speech & Debate. If I’m not babysitting or doing homework, you can find me eating my favorite candy and snacks and watching The Flash.