Monday, April 10, 2023

Take Control of Sensory Overload: Free Printable Guides for Understanding Signs and Calming Techniques

Sensory overload is a condition that occurs when the sensory input received by our body exceeds our capacity to process it. This can happen to anyone, regardless of age or health status. Sensory overload can occur when our senses are bombarded with too much information, such as loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, or crowded spaces. We will discuss the signs of sensory overload, how it affects children and adults, what causes it, who experiences it, and methods to calm down and why they help.

Signs of Sensory Overload

Sensory overload can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the individual and the specific sensory input. Some common signs of sensory overload include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability or anger
  • Hyperactivity or restlessness
  • Feeling exhausted or drained
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Avoiding certain situations or environments
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Stomachaches or nausea
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch, taste, or smell

How it Affects Children and Adults

Children and adults can both experience sensory overload, but the way it affects them can differ. Children may have difficulty expressing their feelings or understanding what is happening to them, which can lead to tantrums or meltdowns. They may also become hyperactive or restless, or withdraw from social situations altogether. Adults may experience similar symptoms, but they may be better able to verbalize their feelings or cope with the overload.

  • Loud noises or sudden sounds
  • Bright lights or flashing lights
  • Strong smells or odors
  • Crowded spaces or environments
  • Intense or prolonged physical sensations (e.g. heat, cold, pain)
  • Emotional stress or anxiety
  • Medical conditions such as autism, ADHD, or sensory processing disorder

Who Experiences Sensory Overload?

Anyone can experience sensory overload, but it is more common in individuals with certain medical conditions, such as autism, ADHD, or sensory processing disorder. It can also be more common in individuals who are highly sensitive or have a lower threshold for sensory input.

Methods to Calm Down and Why They Help

There are several methods to help calm down when experiencing sensory overload. Here are some examples:

  • Remove yourself from the environment: If you are experiencing sensory overload in a particular environment, remove yourself from that environment if possible. Go to a quiet and calming space to relax.
  • Use calming techniques: Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga to help calm your mind and body.
  • Wear earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones: These can help reduce the impact of loud or sudden noises.
  • Wear sunglasses or a hat: This can help reduce the impact of bright or flashing lights.
  • Use sensory toys or tools: Sensory toys such as stress balls, fidget spinners, or weighted blankets can provide a calming and comforting sensation to those experiencing sensory overload.
  • Seek professional help: If you or your child are experiencing sensory overload on a regular basis and it is impacting daily life, consider seeking the help of a professional such as a therapist or occupational therapist.

Sensory overload is a common condition that can impact anyone, regardless of age or health status. It can be caused by a variety of factors and can manifest in a variety of ways. However, there are several methods to help calm down when experiencing sensory overload. By understanding the signs and causes of sensory overload, individuals can take steps to manage their symptoms and live a more comfortable life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with sensory overload, we have created two free printables to help you better understand the signs of sensory overload and the methods to calm down and self-regulate. These printables are a helpful tool to have on hand and can be posted in a visible place for quick reference. Simply click the link below to download your free printables and take a step towards managing sensory overload.

Click here to download your free PDF printable on Signs of Sensory Overload and Methods to Calm Down and Self-Regulate or right click on each image below and save to your computer.

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