Is Sensory Overload Real?

Sensory overload is when your senses take in more information that your brain can process...

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I have a child, who is now an adult with epilepsy.

A quick recap for those of you that are new to me, our daughter Gabby, was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 13, approximately seven years ago. 

Many of her struggles, I honestly put down to her epilepsy.  She experienced high anxiety, meltdowns and obviously seizures. 

Recently though, we have learned that she also has autism, which by the way is actually very common for kids with epilepsy. 

I learned that it comes from the same part of the brain…

Whilst, at first it was really hard for her to learn about another diagnosis and challenging for me as her mum. 

Another thing that I had not picked up on for my child, enter mummy guilt.  A lot of healing has been needed for me, especially around this, honestly, I’m so thankful that I have EFT tapping in my life.

The second diagnosis has actually armed her and I with so much information and clarity.

Giving her the opportunity to really get to know herself, and finally understand why she feels and reacts the way she does in certain circumstances. 

Bringing me to the topic of sensory overload, which was causing her emotional meltdowns… 

Now we know what her triggers are and what she needs in certain circumstances…

For example:

  • Doctor visits
  • Ambulance rides
  • Going to hospitals
  • Medical treatments such as her EEG traces and blood tests

 

I know what to do now to help her, and she also knows what she needs to do, to remain calm in those times. 

So we have the strategies in place for her now that are going to allow her to stay calm, and allow her to be able to cope with these things that are quite challenging.

Her seizures also have a trigger from stressful events, as you can imagine, all these things can be highly stressful. 

With all of those things combined, it was really important that we found the strategies that worked for her, and we have those in place now. 

Now, this brings me to you. Sensory overload is a real thing, and especially for you as a highly sensitive soul…

There are going to be certain things that are like an assault on your senses, but it is going to be different for each of you. 

Your sensitive nervous system will most likely cause you to experience sensory overload. 

You may be thinking, actually no I haven’t, but I can pretty much guarantee you probably have, experiencing symptoms that may not have had a name.

It is called sensory overload…

I experienced the same thing, not knowing it actually had a name, a cause and a solution…

For me, the one thing that really affects my sensitivity and causes sensory overload is loud noise. Unfortunately I have very loud and disrespectful neighbours, and just recently they played their loud, pounding music for 12 hours straight. 

Honestly, it has taken me quite a few days to move through my sensory overload, and for my energy to really start to feel like mine again.

If you think about that for yourself…

What are your triggers? 

What do you feel are the things that cause your sensory overload?

What causes you to feel quite overwhelmed?  

What diminishes your capacity?  

Causing you to carry a lot of tension throughout your body, leading to exhaustion and feeling like you have nothing left to give…

My experience exactly after the overwhelming event with my neighbors. I had to say to my kids, I don’t have anything left to give, because I was essentially in sensory overload. 

Now when it comes to sensory overload, I have a two-pronged approach…

The first is really about getting to know yourself, and understanding yourself enough to recognize the build…

This was something that I needed to speak to my daughter about as well. It was starting to understand her build, what were the signals and signs that she was experiencing an emotional build?

I encourage you to start to recognize that within yourself as well…

Starting to notice those signs and signals, that you are experiencing something that could potentially bring you to sensory overload.

It doesn’t have to be anything big, if there is something in your life that triggers you, there will be signals and signs for you, that are quite small at first, so small in fact that you may not notice them.

You may just let them go and think,  it’s no big deal. But the problem with that is, if you don’t catch it right there and then, it is going to build and build and build until you experience an emotional meltdown. 

That’s where your sensory overload is going to come in, it’s important to start to notice those signals and signs.

Giving you the opportunity to do the things that you need to, so you don’t get to the peak of that mountain.

Cutting off the flow that will lead you to sensory overload

 

sensory overload

So I’ll use myself as an example. When the neighbors first start playing their music, we have lived here for four years, and this happens quite often. 

It wasn’t a one-off occurrence, and I’ve been dealing with this for a long time. Not being my first rodeo, I had the things that I knew I needed to do.

When they first start playing their music, I feel this angst in my stomach, located in my solar plexus. It’s an anxiety, tightness and tension that starts to happen, that is my sign that this could potentially build to a level of sensory overload, if I don’t do something about it. 

It’s very easy to say to yourself, ‘here we go again, but it’s okay you’ve survived all the previous times’.

 A lot of the time it is okay, but this time it wasn’t because it was such a long time…

12 hours from midday through to midnight, music blasting with the heavy bass sound. Termed ‘doof doof’ here in Australia describing ‘loud electronic music centred on a heavy bass drum kick’.

I am sure you can imagine what that feels like for a person with high sensitivity…

I feel every part of that heavy bass sound in my body, and if I don’t do anything in the moment to help to release the energy, it can build to sensory overload.

It was important for me to pull out all the tools out of my self-care toolbox…

If you don’t have a self-care toolbox, I suggest you get one. Because as a highly sensitive soul, you need a self-care tool box. 

 

self-care

Let me just share with you a few of the things that I do to help me, when I notice those signals and signs.

To prevent me from getting to the place where I am in jeopardy of an emotional meltdown.

  1. EFT Tapping
  2. Journaling
  3. Essential Oils
  4. Meditation

The first one is EFT tapping, as I talked about before, I am so grateful to have EFT tapping in my life. 

It absolutely has helped me to heal some difficult experiences that I’ve had to go through, in my life personally, and as a mum to a child with special needs.

Tapping helps me to reduce what’s happening within my body.  Calming my nervous system and signaling that it’s okay, we’ve been through this before and we are safe…

Learn more about EFT Tapping…

The second one that I find is helpful is journaling, and what journaling is going to do is help you to clear and cleanse your thoughts. 

A strategy that allows you to clear and cleanse your thoughts, that would potentially cause you to spiral.

When there are things happening that are outside of your control, external forces that can cause you to feel helpless. 

It is important to have an avenue, to express and release unhelpful and unsupportive thoughts and thought patterns.

The third one is essential oils, there are so many different oils, each helping different areas of your life.  Diffusing your favourite essential oil can do wonders in calming your nervous system.

My favourites are lavender, citrus bliss and balance from DoTerra.

The last one is meditation, extremely helpful in calming the stress hormone cortisol.  As when we are experiencing high stress, the stress hormone cortisol can be heightened.

It also provides a time-out for your mind and body, allowing you to start to recover from the sensory overload.

That’s the first prong starting to get to know yourself, understanding yourself enough to recognize the symptoms of sensory overload. 

The second prong is about what you do when you reach the peak and are experiencing overload, because there are going to be times where that happens.

As a sensitive soul, you are most likely going to experience sensory overload at one time or another.

It is very similar to the strategies I shared out of my self-care box, however you are going to have to double down.

Because if you are already in sensory overload, you are at the peak already. 

So what do you do? 

We are going to use the same strategies, but as I mentioned, you are going to have to double down.  When you are already heightened, it is going to take a little more work and attention, to calm your nervous system.

Essentially, when you are already at the peak, your senses have been assaulted, they are going to need rest, repair and recovery.

You are going to have to allow yourself to do those three Rs and it may take time. Like I said, it took me a few days to work through my sensory overload, to where I started to feel more like myself again, that my energy was, was mine again.

It’s important to understand and remember those three Rs, rest, repair, and recovery. 

Rest:

Meditation
Ground your energy
Spend time in nature

Repair: 

EFT Tapping
Journaling

Recovery:

Essential Oils
Journaling
Meditation

 

sensory overload

Now something that I want to share with you about sensory overload that I think is important, and it isn’t something that gets talked about all that much, and that is the difference between the physical thing that has caused it for you and the energy that is attached to it.

This is something that I needed to learn, obviously with my circumstance and what I deal with on a regular basis. So in my circumstance, loud music whilst annoying to my physical body. 

My ears can handle it, they can handle the noise, but it is the onslaught of the energy from the loud music that affects me on a very deep level.

Moving into each of my cells and causing me to feel like I can’t handle the onslaught.

Does that sound familiar to you with your trigger?

That you get to a place where you’re like, I can’t handle this anymore, and that is the energy…

In my circumstance, it’s loud music, the energy that is coming from that music is what is affecting me. 

It’s not the physical sound so much that is coming in through my physical ears, my physical ears can handle that. 

It is the energy that is wrapped up within that music, and if you think about it with music for an example…

All the different avenues and people it has passed through to get to a place where my neighbors are playing that music…

There’s all of this energy wrapped up within that, and as a sensitive person, no wonder that it was affecting me on such a deep level. 

As you start to understand the energetic connection to all events and experiences in your life, you are going to be able to support yourself on a much deeper level. 

Working on an energetic level, you are going to notice that your physical system handles it a lot easier and also shifts in your external world will start to happen. 

“My body is very wise, it knows how to heal itself”

Essentially what this quote is saying is that working in the energetic field on the things that are triggering your sensory overload. 

Is you getting out of the way and allowing your body to heal itself, which I think brings you out of a place of disempowerment and brings you into a place of empowerment.

My intention for you is to feel empowered!

Even when there are things going on within your life, circumstances, and your environment that make you feel like you don’t have the power. 

Making you feel like you’re out of control or you have no control or lack of choices, then understanding working on an energetic level brings your power back, reminds you of the power that you have.

How you can work with me privately:

I offer 1-1 private Holistic Counselling that is provided online from the comfort of your home.  Giving you the space you need to uncover what is causing your emotional turmoil.

As a highly sensitive woman and/or empath it is important for you to feel supported and learn more and understand more about your unique gift.

I am passionate about supporting you to move through empathy burnout and thrive as the deeply empathic woman you are.

Book your free virtual coffee chat.

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Your guide: Nicole Ivens

Hi! I'm Nicole.

I am a Holistic Counsellor & Certified Clinical EFT Practitioner.  I share articles to support you in Mind, Body & Soul.  Covering topics such as: Spirituality, Healing & Empowerment.

I also work with clients privately on the Gold Coast, Queensland Australia and online utilising EFT Tapping to support them on their healing journey.

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