As a sensitive soul, it's easy to get overstimulated.
With stimulation all around, it's not surprising. Our urgency-addicted culture and mainstream work ethic is overstimulating. Sound bites, billboards, spam, and constant advertisements surround us. Other people's energy and emotions affect us. Too much light, noise, color, texture, or odor will quickly send us into overdrive. Sometimes we can get overstimulated from sugary foods, alcohol, or caffeine. On top of all of this, our own negative internal dialogues can overstimulate as well.
On the other hand, positive excitement can also be overstimulating. Getting engaged was a huge reminder of this for me. The night after the proposal, I simply could not get to sleep with all the excitement. My mind was spinning. So, overstimulation can also come from good things, too -- like interests, passions, or excitement.
Every person has a threshold when it comes to stimulation. Even non-HSPs get overstimulated. Sensitive souls simply have a lower threshold for stimulation, taking us into overwhelm more quickly than others. The downside to overstimulation is that when it is a constant way of life, it takes a toll on our health and wellbeing. I believe that many sensitive souls are anxious and depressed as a result of chronic overstimulation and resulting exhaustion.
Being under-stimulated is no piece of cake either. The discomfort of boredom is particularly familiar to sensation-seeking sensitive souls. Ultimately, we each need to find our own optimal level of stimulation.
Here's what I'm doing and what I teach my clients to manage stimulation:
* Pay attention to your very FIRST clues when you get overstimulated. Early detection is the key.
* Learn to monitor your stimulation level on a regular basis, so you can make course corrections as needed. I like to use a 0 to 10 scale, where my ideal level of stimulation is a 4 or 5.
* Make course corrections. Throttle-back, slow down, and take breaks to stop the madness. Do something for yourself to bring you back to center. I like to paint my toenails or clean my kitchen sink. Taking three deep breaths with my eyes closed also helps tremendously. My other favorite: hopping in bed in the middle of the day for a few minutes.
* Use your imagination and intuition to envision your day, your week, and your month. Your inner guidance will let you know what's too much. Then, adjust as needed. When I see too many items on my calendar for the week, I cancel plans or invite the Universe to help "dematerialize" a few things for me.
* Leave. Sometimes the most powerful solution is to walk away. If you're in an overstimulating situation, leaving may be the most effective way to take care of yourself in the moment, even if you come back later. Many sensitives can attest to the power of a brief restroom break when attending a social event. Perhaps that's why it's called a rest room.
* Use energy skills, meditation, and exercise to discharge excess energy. Simple ways to clear away what's too much can offer quick relief.
* Build your energy reserves through self-care, so you are more resilient when the unexpected comes up. Eat well, exercise, sleep well, and drink water. These are the basics. Then, when overstimulating situations come up, you'll be better prepared.
* Create a tool kit to help manage overstimulation. Try Rescue Remedy, Rescue Sleep, Calms Forte, still-point inducers, lavender essential oil, Epsom salts, meditation or visualization CDs, and soothing music. These are the things you might consider stocking up on. I have a set for both home and travel.
* Clear your mind. Learn techniques to quiet your mind, especially when your inner dialogue starts spinning out of control. Do stream-of-consciousness writing about what's troubling you, and then burn it to let it go. Ring bells or singing bowls to invoke the element of air to clear your mind. Flower essences can help, too.
* Use consciousness as a resource. Be mindful about working at a proper pace, slowing down when you eat, remembering to breathe, and not rushing through your life. The time to live is now.
Copyright November 2006, Jennifer K. Avery
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Jenna Avery, the Life Coach for Sensitive Souls, offers an original coaching program designed to guide highly sensitive souls to a deep sense of inner rightness, so they are inspired to step forward and shine. You're invited to visit her website at www.highlysensitivesouls.com to take her free online assessment, "Is Your Sensitivity Working For You?"