Every afternoon, I become irritable and anxious. It always happens. It doesn’t matter if my day has been excellent. I become overwhelmed and claustrophobic by the chaos of the day. It hits me like a wall of bricks, an instant urge to cry. I don’t know how to handle the mess. Where do I start cleaning? Why am I cleaning again? There is so much outside noise hurled my direction, and it makes me want to scream. I just want to get away and have everything around, stop.
I still have a hard time processing why this happens, even though it’s always coming. But, the truth is I know what causes it. Anxiety. Sensory overload. My mind is saying that it’s time to calm down and breathe. There are times that I ignore what my body is telling me to do. Instead of centering my emotions, they become erratic, and I begin to lash out due to irritability.
What is Sensory Anxiety Overload? It’s when all of the senses are overwhelmed, and the brain cannot process. This response is alerting you to step away because your mind feels trapped. Any person can have sensory overload, but there are several health conditions that specific triggers can attribute to it. Do you ever feel overwhelmed when your surroundings are chaotic?
The symptoms are Sensory Overload is:
- difficulty focusing due to sensory input
- extreme irritability
- Restlessness and discomfort
- urge to cover your ears or shield your eyes from the sensory input
- feeling overly excited or “wound up.”
- stress, fear, or anxiety about your surroundings
- higher levels than usual of textures, fabrics, clothing tags, or other things that may rub against your skin
So, what do I do to center myself? First, I take medication. Yes, that’s right, I take an anti-anxiety pill. Second, I drink a glass of water, and while I’m drinking my water, I’ll make a list of things I need to do. To not overwhelm myself, my tasks start in one section of a room. I have to tell myself to start somewhere if not; all I see is the clutter.
It’s important to know that you can overcome Sensory Overload. How?
- Identify the triggers. Some people are more sensitive to a lot of noises, and others are more sensitive to crowds. It’s okay to take yourself out of situations that will trigger this.
- Plan for the triggers. If you are in an atmosphere that you cannot control sensory input, like your home, have a plan in place. For example, if you are going grocery shopping on a hot day, write out your grocery list. This will help maintain focus.
- Ask for the sensory input trigger to be removed or reduced.
- Remove yourself from the situation. It’s okay to step away and say this is too much for my brain to handle.
Life is overwhelming and chaotic. And, sometimes, it can be hard to function. But, remember, you’re doing a good job. Even when you have to step away and deal with everything later. Listen to what your mind is saying. You’re strong. You’re powerful. And you’re incredible.
If you are struggling with coping with Sensory Overload, reach out to a medical profession.