Nov 1, 2023 | Neurodiversity

Overstimulation

Mental and Physical Aspects of Overstimulation and its Impact

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Last week, we discussed how individuals with ADHD experience overstimulation, and offered some basic tips to help. This week we want to dig deeper into this topic, and highlight our own practical, real-life tools to help regulate sensory overstimulation, and the importance of recognizing your triggers. 

Indicators of overstimulation 

Depending on your unique experience, the mental and physical aspects of overstimulation and its impact may vary. The way in which symptoms appear can also be quite different from person to person. However, here are some common indicators of overstimulation: 

  • trouble focusing 
  • restlessness 
  • anxiousness 
  • extreme irritability 
  • agitation 
  • panic attacks 
  • difficulty sleeping 
  • avoidance of specific places, such as the kitchen or bathroom 

You may also experience: 

  • change in internal dialogue 
  • sweating 
  • increased heart rate 
  • headache or light-headedness 

Paying close attention to your environment, and how you feel in certain places or situations will help you to recognize when you start feeling overstimulated. In doing so, you can employ tools that help you ground yourself. The key is to understand your body and mind, and what triggers overstimulation before you are pushed off the edge of the cliff.  

Tools to help 

The following are some useful tools that we have found helpful. Again, as mentioned above, every person’s needs will be different, and you will likely need to forge your own path to find what works for you. 

Carry an emergency kit 

Consider the items that are key to helping you ground yourself when overstimulation occurs. Always carry these things with you so that they are easily accessible, while offering a sense of control knowing you are armed with your stimulus arsenal. Your emergency kit could include earplugs, a fidget device that you find helpful, or even prescribed medication. When you know your triggers, and start to feel your symptoms brewing, you will have the tools you need to help ground yourself in those intense moments. 

Consider earplugs 

We have tried and tested many kinds of earplugs and our favourite are Loop Earplugs. Offering a few variations of earplugs, we have found these to be effective, comfortable, and discreet. Let’s briefly discuss the different options we have tried: 

Quiet: with a variety of colours to choose from, these earplugs are made of silicone and are noise cancelling. Their small, and soft design sit comfortably in your ear. They don’t crinkle or cause ear pain or discomfort. This is our favourite pair to use when sleeping! 

Experience: also available in many colours, these earplugs are silicone with a hard, plastic loop on the outside to help them stay put no matter how much you move. Reducing the noise, but keeping the quality, these will help tone down excess or triggering noise, allowing you to still hear what is happening around you. These are ideal for public outings to the mall, grocery store, festivals, or your local farmer’s market. 

Engage: pick your favourite colour and engage in conversation with the help of these earplugs. This pair mutes the sharpness of sounds, and minimizes the sounds of your body, which are often amplified when using earplugs. 

Loop earplugs also offer options for children, and recently introduced a new pair, Switch, which combines all the features of the three we mentioned above. We haven’t had the chance to try these ones out yet, but they are on our wish list! Because we love these earplugs so much, we encourage you to use our code, and get 15% off your purchase.

Grounding devices 

A quick Google search will uncover the plethora of fidget toys available. Again, this will be a process of trial and error to discover which ones are beneficial to you. We find Calm Strips to be a good choice for our own needs, but that might not necessarily be the case for you. With a variety of textures, depending on your personal preference, they can be kept in your emergency kit. We have found them to be an excellent option to help combat overstimulation. Others you might want to check out include: Stimara, Fidget Cube (antsylabs.com), and Magnetic Fidget Rings – BunMo.com

We know firsthand, that the needs of one person will be different from another. However, we hope that you might find some of these tips helpful and recognize that you aren’t alone.  

Stay tuned for next week’s blog, when we will discuss tools to help when you are experiencing a meltdown. 

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