Are you the kind of person who likes to spend time alone?
Or do you crave to be around people for the most part of your day?
We all have different sensory thresholds – some high, some low. This means that we can take more, or less sensory input before becoming drained, irritable or feeling stressed. We are bombarded by sensory input wherever we go – especially visual and auditory input. So how do we cope?
Our bodies elicit a stress response when the brain has reached its limit of processing sensory input. We go into fight, fright or flight mode and we lose contentment, peace of mind, the ability to focus, digestive comfort and our mood changes too. This is no fun place to be, and so most of us would prefer to avoid a situation that might set this reaction and change in behaviour off.
For many people, being in a crowded place – be it a shopping mall, an expo, a music concert or a festival – is a daunting thought. For many people this is possibly the most stressful scenario to be in. Almost every sense is used, overused and exhausted in these kinds of places. Imagine it:
- people wearing colourful clothes, posters with images, movies and text (visual);
- people talking amongst themselves, music blaring, different sounds coming from all corners (auditory);
- the many different smells of people’s shampoo’s, perfumes and body odour, as well as, of the different food or drink in the vicinity (smell/taste);
- the invasion of personal space, people brushing passed or bumping into you, or feeling others breathing over you (tactile).
There are people who would manage just fine in this scenario – those with high thresholds in these areas. They would enjoy the mania of sensory input and be energised by it. Then there are others with high thresholds who don’t necessarily even notice that so much is going on. Their brains manage to filter out most of the information and they just carry on as though they’re anywhere else.
But, there are those who do not cope and leave crowded places feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Their brain is in high alert and they are likely quite defensive, argumentative or just plain tired after such an event. These are people with low thresholds who have a sensitive response to this type of input. The brain quickly learns that crowded places are dangerous; a threat to our happiness and contentment.
When you discover that this could be the reasons behind your behaviour and your preference to avoid crowds, you no longer judge yourself as “strange” or “anti-social”. Increasing self-awareness on this level, with an understanding of the biology behind your preferences and learning new strategies for managing your responses, is truly freeing. It brings perspective to your life; the choices you have made and will make and how you have become who you are.
Isn’t it time you find out what your senses are trying to tell you?
- If you would like to learn more about your own sensory profile, do our short FREE Sensory Quiz.
- For a comprehensive 25-page report with tips and strategies on how to reduce stress and live a productive, healthy and happy life visit Sensory Matrix or contact us to make use of our special “Buy 1, get 1 FREE” offer at only R550 (incl VAT).
- Once you’ve done the e-profile and would like a one-on-one coaching session, we can put you in touch with one of our licensed practitioners.
- For team building with a difference, get your whole team to do the e-profile – you can contact us here.
Written by Tanya Muir, Occupational Therapist and Specialist Facilitator for Sensory Intelligence Consulting.