Year end functions Budgeting Christmas shopping EXAMS
Work deadlines Holiday planning Christmas lunch Parenthood
Family visiting for the holidays School concerts Socials WhatsApp’s
Relationships Elderly parents To-Do-Lists Household duties
Some people call it “burnout”, others refer to it as “having had enough”. For me personally the best description is “end-of-the-year-syndrome”. Regardless of your word choice, it all boils down to the same state of mind:
- Being easily overwhelmed
- Feeling disconnected
- Having a low tolerance for social interaction
- Overreacting to little things
- Seeking social isolation and alone-time
- Experiencing an inability to cope with everyday stressors
We’ve all been there.
That stage in your day, your week, your year or your life when all you want to do is shout out to the world:
“Over & Out!!!”
The urge to press life’s pause button
From a sensory processing perspective, someone with a low sensory threshold will often experience this need to withdraw and hide from everyday life. At Sensory Intelligence® Consulting we refer to individuals with low sensory thresholds as the roots of the Sensory Tree™. They are the people whose nervous systems struggle to filter, organize and respond appropriately to the various sensory input bombarding their sensory systems from one minute to the next. Their brains receive too much sensory input and simply cannot continue processing all the information in a conventional, organized manner. It is usually at this stage where their nervous system feels like shutting down, resulting in sensory overload… and if not addressed… sensory meltdown. Too many bright lights, crowds, noise, strong smells & tastes and irregular movement will undoubtedly steer them in the direction of isolation as a result of an overactive fight-flight-freeze response.
Having said that, it’s not only our roots who experience the need to isolate themselves, avoiding interaction. People with high thresholds, the leaves of the Sensory Tree™, who tend to crave sensory input and thrive on extra stimulation from their environment, also get bombarded with boundless social demands. Nowadays it is much harder to take a break from social interaction when you need to: if a person cannot reach you by phone, there’s e-mail. And if you’re not replying to e-mails, there’s WhatsApp. And, heaven forbid if you don’t respond to a WhatsApp, where the sender can see that it’s been read due to those horrific 2 blue ticks…
Unfortunately, responding with “Over and Out” when you desperately need that break to avoid a fight-flight-freeze response, would just not be acceptable in our fast-paced world.
Truth be told, we all need to opt out from human contact at times and call for an “Over & Out” break. Where we are allowed to just “be” and giving our nervous systems time to recuperate… Without having to explain ourselves … without worrying about hurting people’s feelings … without feeling guilty about looking after our own well-being …
Maybe, if we manage to be somewhat kinder to ourselves and allowing our bodies time to relax, we’ll be able to achieve this much needed balance. The best ways I can think of is by revisiting our reactions when children are on the brink of a sensory meltdown and applying the same rules and suggestions:
- GO PLAY OUTSIDE
And while you’re out there, appreciate the beauty of nature by observing plants, flowers, animals, butterflies, etc. Smell the roses… and jasmine… and lavender. Swing in a hammock. Walk barefoot, allowing the grass to tickle your feet.
- TIME OUT
Allow yourself time in a calm space with no human or electronic interference.
- KEEP QUIET
Listen… to the sound of the ocean, your favourite music, or to absolutely nothing.
- GO TO BED
Allow your body and nervous system enough time to rest during the night. If you’re lucky enough, take that afternoon nap!
- HAVE A CUP OF TEA
Soothe your body from the inside out.
- GET SOME EXERCISE OR GO FOR A MASSAGE
Movement is a number one self-regulating strategy. Also, the effects of deep pressure have been researched for many years – it is a wonderful tool to help calm your nervous system in stressful times.
- PUT YOUR PHONE OR TABLET DOWN
Take a proper social interaction break. This will free up your senses to experience the magnificent world around you.
Sometimes you have to take a break and breathe before you can keep moving forward – Kayla Panchisin
Over & Out!!!
To find out what your sensory thresholds are, do our quick Sensory Quiz. For a personalised, 25-page guide on how your senses affect the way you live, learn, work and play, visit http://sensoryintelligence.net/sensory-matrix/
Written by Marieta du Toit, a qualified Occupational Therapist with an interest in sensory integration, neurology and human behaviour in the modern world. She is based in St Francis Bay, where she manages her school-based practice dealing with children, parents, teachers, principals and health profession colleagues. Marieta is a regular blogger and is our Eastern Cape Events Co-ordinator.