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How to regulate yourself when you’re overstimulated

In Features, Mind Health, Motherhood, Stories by Nicole Fuge

Navigating sensory chaos? Discover how to regulate yourself when you’re overstimulated with easy strategies to reclaim your calm and refocus your energy.

By Harper Steele

Ever found yourself in a situation where your senses are on overdrive, your brain feels like it’s sprinting a marathon, and you just can’t seem to quieten the noise inside your head (or the noise coming from your children)? Welcome to the club.

Overstimulation is not a rare phenomenon, especially in our bustling, notification-filled lives. And let’s face it, a chaotic mind isn’t helping anyone, least of all you.

So how can you regain your sense of calm when everything feels too much? I’ve got you. Here’s a rundown of some effective ways to pull yourself back to centre.


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1. Hit the Wall (No, not literally!)

Sometimes, grounding yourself is as simple as putting your back against the wall. Yes, you heard me right. Stand with your back pressed firmly against a wall. Let the sensation of stability seep into you, from your heels to the back of your head. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. You’re a modern-day superhero, and this wall is your cape.

2. The Magic of Crunchy Food

Ever noticed how satisfying it is to crunch into a crisp apple or munch on some celery sticks? There’s a method to the madness. Crunchy food can help you ground yourself when your nerves are all aflutter. The act of crunching reverberates in your skull, effectively giving you something tangible to focus on. Plus, let’s not forget, it’s a tasty way to find your zen.

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3. The Good Old 5-4-3-2-1 Method

This tried-and-true technique is a lifesaver. Identify five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This practice not only diverts your mind but also brings you back to the present moment. It’s a double win!

4. A Shower of Relief

If you’ve ever felt like a different person after a shower, you’re not alone. A shower can literally wash away the mental grime. When feeling overstimulated, hop in for a quick rinse. Let the water flow over your body and focus on the sensation. Bonus points if you imagine your worries going down the drain.

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5. Shake It Off

Yeah, I said it. Shake it off, shake it off! Engaging in quick, abrupt movements like shaking your arms or hopping on the spot can jolt your system and snap you out of your sensory overload. It sounds a bit bonkers, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

6. Write It Down, Tear It Up

There’s something therapeutic about letting your thoughts spill onto paper. Scribble down whatever is buzzing around your head. The act of writing can feel like you’re transferring your burdens onto the page. And for the pièce de résistance, tear that paper up. It’s surprisingly cathartic.

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7. Phone a Friend

Sometimes, all you need is someone to hear you out. A quick chat can do wonders. Just ensure you choose someone who’s good at listening, rather than piling on more stress. Even a simple text exchange can help you feel heard and less alone in your whirlpool of thoughts.

8. Play It Backwards

Try recalling a favourite song or a familiar jingle, and play it back in your mind in reverse. This requires a certain level of focus and mental gymnastics, providing an ideal distraction from your emotional chaos.

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9. Unplug and Plug In

If you find the world is too much to take, it’s okay to unplug. Retreat to a quiet space, put on some calming tunes, and plug into your inner world. Sometimes, silence is the best antidote to overstimulation.

So there you have it, some straightforward yet effective ways to regain your calm when you’re running on sensory overload. The key is to find what works best for you. No one knows your inner landscape better than you do. The next time you find yourself spiralling, remember you have the tools to bring yourself back to solid ground. You’ve got this.

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