Overstimulation – overstraining of soul and body
Many newlywed parents know the challenging moments when their baby cries in the evenings seemingly groundless and difficult to calm down. The evening screaming usually disappears after the first three months of life. For a long time, the so-called “three-month colic” was suspected as the cause, today it is known that this phenomenon is based on an emotional overload of the infant, which is accompanied by enormous stress.
If the senses of a sensitive person are continuously affected by visual and auditory impressions during the day, the brain can no longer process them. Not only young babies but also many children and adults then suffer from overstimulation, because due to the intense impressions and stimuli brain and nerve cells are simply overwhelmed.
In extreme cases and under certain circumstances, overstimulation may even result in mental and physical symptoms or serious behavioral problems. Therefore, it is important to take targeted measures at the first signs of excessive demands of the perception, to reduce in the negative sense overwhelming sensory impressions, to relieve the psyche and to integrate moments of balancing rest in everyday life.
Triggering factors and causes of overstimulation
Whether or not the brain can process daily sensory impressions depends largely on the individual lifestyle, the immediate environment and the mental and physical constitution of a person. Those who live in a big city, work a lot with modern media or maintain a hectic lifestyle usually know the problem of not being able to switch off in the evening. If the brain is constantly confronted with intense stimuli of various kinds during the day, it can no longer process them at some point.
People perceive innumerable sensory impressions during the day, without the need for sensory overload. Sounds and images that affect the brain in everyday life, in interpersonal encounters or in leisure time are not automatically perceived as tedious or even overwhelming but are generally perceived as positive or neutral. Even a temporary sensory overload, such as by a loud action movie, a nocturnal, with the constant alternation of light and darkness connected car drive or an unexpectedly intense tasting food, the brain can usually handle well.
However, the influence of various stimuli becomes problematic if there is no time for recovery between the flood of impressions or if a person is fundamentally exposed to a high level of stress for professional or social reasons.
Modern media, the constant noise of traffic, aggressive advertising and moving images can lead to sensitive people under such circumstances, that at some point this information is no longer considered useful and classified and manifests the resulting excessive demands in the form of physical or psychological reactions , In this context, however, it must be mentioned that the tolerance limit varies considerably from person to person.
While many a grown-up after a hectic day’s work in the evening without internet, loud TV or music does not get along, another already feels the colorful moving images in the cinema as stressful or even painful. Even with babies and children, the reactions to intense sensory impressions are very different. Some infants have no problems falling asleep in the evenings after a busy day, others have to be carried or breastfed for hours after a visit to their grandparents to settle down.
Possible effects and symptoms of overstimulation
As much as the tolerance limit varies from person to person, the physical and psychological reactions to intense or lasting sensations are so different. In some children, who are confronted with a constant flow of information in their everyday lives, they often show behavioral problems such as ADHD, difficulty concentrating or learning disabilities. Other children lose their sense of reality to some degree and thus have problems participating in social life at home or school.
Even adults who suffer from permanent overstimulation often develop concentration disorders, are conspicuously forgetful and thus can not provide the expected benefits to one hundred percent. Other sensitive people, who in everyday life are excessively confronted with colorful pictures and loud or intense background noise, show aggressive, nervous or hyperactive behavior and suffer from sleep disorders or insomnia.
Particularly problematic is an overstraining of the senses, if as a result of too intensive an effect of stimuli different clinical pictures arise. Chronic fatigue states such as burn-out syndrome are particularly common. Psychosomatic illnesses such as chronic pain states without organic causes, migraine or tinnitus can occur as a result of a strong sensory overload and the consequent overloading of nerve cells. In the case of particularly sensitive people, who also suffer from a considerable stress burden at the same time, psychosis or severe depression can subsequently develop.
Measures against overstimulation
How and to what extent stimuli affect one’s psyche can affect people to a certain extent themselves. Of course, everyday noises such as traffic and the confusion of voices, or images and other stimuli that affect professional everyday life can hardly be avoided. Especially city dwellers hardly escape the flood of impressions in hectic everyday life. In the leisure time, however, very effective measures to relieve the psyche and the body can be set against the sensory overload. Anyone who feels noticeably under a sensory overload should make some changes in lifestyle.
Often, mental disorders or psychosomatic illnesses, which arise as a result of an overload of the nervous system by stimuli, are medically treated. However, this is rarely necessary or even harmful in the case of child behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. Much more efficient are targeted measures to drastically reduce the overwhelming sensory impressions. This begins with the consistent avoidance of evening television or surfing the Internet, to avoid the flood of moving images and influencing advertising at least before sleep and promote restful sleep.
To counteract sensory overload in children and thus to treat behavioral problems naturally, it has proven particularly successful to integrate creative activities into everyday life. Even with children, too much television and constant surfing on the Internet usually lead to damaging overstimulation of the senses. Parents who consistently reduce their time on the computer or in front of the TV, and instead lovingly instruct their children to draw and craft, promote the child’s ability to concentrate and at the same time integrate moments of calm and reflection into the little ones’ everyday lives.
Even adults overwhelmed by sensory impressions benefit from creative activities such as manual labor or writing down their thoughts to focus on the inner feelings and to leave everyday life behind in a calm atmosphere. In case of overstimulation and its consequences, it is also important to spend a lot of time outdoors, because the rich colors and gentle sounds have a balancing effect on the mind and neutralize disturbing sensory impressions sustainably.
Walks in the woods, quiet sporting activities such as hiking and biking or a family holiday on a farm often cause miracles when over-stimulated. Yoga is also a highly effective measure against overstraining the senses and can help adults and children to strengthen their relationship with their own body through calm and deliberate movements, thereby gently controlling their concentration or hyperactivity.
People who suffer from sensory overload and its consequences should also integrate relaxation techniques into their daily lives or meditate regularly. Especially Zen meditation and oriental martial arts with a philosophical background have proven to be successful when overstrained by negative sensory impressions. In an everyday life characterized by constant and partially superfluous information, they bring those moments of peace and reflection that will give even stressed and stressed people the strength and joy of life.