Don’t you just want to be able to skip a day – just sometimes? I know I do…
Life can be so incredibly overwhelming and overstimulating.
It can even be overstimulating during these Corona-times, can’t it?
Do you have kids, ? ‘Coz if you do, I can only imagine that it can be challenging for an introvert to be in lockdown 24/7 with your whole family.
No time to yourself, whatsoever.
Same as working at home together with your partner.
In the Netherlands, we are in almost complete lockdown for weeks now, so Mark and I had to work from home a LOT.
He can’t go to the office. And – luckily – I get to go out to my personal office 2-3 days a week still. As I’m a psychologist (a lot of my clients don’t like doing Zoom-sessions with me, which I completely understand).
But those two days a week that we work together? Honestly? They can be a tiny bit draining for me as an introverted HSP with chronic pain! He’s more of an extrovert than me. While I do often need some time alone to recharge.
And I promise you – when you’re easily overstimulated, it’s important to set healthy boundaries when it comes to self care and recharge time. Else, you’ll end up feeling drained constantly. Not being able to finish tasks, do household chores, or do the fun stuff that you love doing (if only you weren’t so exhausted)!
Us introverts tend to be more easily overstimulated than extroverts.
That’s because of our brain that’s simply wired differently: it takes more time to process (external and internal) stimuli and information in our brain.
Therefore, the amount of stimuli add up to a grand total of WAY TOO MUCH. And you need some time off, to recharge.
Now, there’s a difference between sensory overload and introvert overwhelm.
Sensory overload = one or more (physical) senses over overloaded with information; and that particular sense doesn’t function properly anymore for a bit. E.g. bright light really hurts your eyes more, or you temporarily can’t stand loud noises or physical touch.
Introvert overwhelm = the total of stimuli (external AND internal) becomes too much, causing a ‘brain error’; not being able to speak decent sentences in the worst case, not being able to find words, or make sense of or function good in a (social) situation. This usually happens in overstimulating places, where there’s also a lot of people. You can get ‘peopled-out’. Feeling depleted and at complete loss of energy.
Sensory overload often comes combined with introvert overwhelm. Not always though.
Anyways, over time, the stimuli usually add up. Until your brain can’t process it anymore. It’s just too much and you start feeling really miserable. Do you recognise this, ?
So what can you DO to OVERCOME these two things, then?
Or even PREVENT it from happening?
Just a few short tips here, to get you started (and you might’ve figured these out yourself already, too – but it’s still a decent reminder to keep doing them):
- Journaling – try to write in your journal each day, to keep track of your mental and physical state; perhaps even assign numbers to how you’re feeling? E.g.: If you’re feeling good mentally, and OK-ish physically, then give yourself a 7/10 mentally and 5.5/10 physically. Then, after a week or two you can draw graphs combining these numbers. See if you can find patterns and insights! (Maybe add a few notes too while you’re at it, to make the whole process a bit easier for yourself!)
- Figure out which sense is usually more easily stimulated for you; for me for example, that’s my sight. I need to rest my eyes more often than my other senses. This way, you can focus on the things that DO work for you specifically.
- Use self care methods that stimulate your other senses; such as taking a hot shower or bath, smelling lovely bodylotion, using a warm blankey or eating something spicy / eating or drinking something you love.
- Wanna prevent overload or overwhelm in the future? Planning enough me-time on your calendar in advance is REALLY important when it comes to prevention. Know when you have events planned (social stuff) that might drain the heck out of you, and create a ‘self care buffer’ around this event. (What I like to do is plan a powernap before the event, or a hot bath after.) Know your body and brain!
Want more tips on overcoming overload and overwhelm?
Watch my Facebook Live Mini-Workshops on this topic in our free online community @ Yay for Introverts!
Hope to meet you there. Until then, take good care of yourself!
With love, xo,
Jamila – Psychologist & Mindfulness-trainer.