Press Release: Navigating sensory overload: The ‘Over & Out’ strategy

Estimated read time 4 min read

By Marieta du Toit, Director, Sensory Coach, Workshop Facilitator at Sensory Intelligence Consulting

In the whirlwind of modern life, with work deadlines, relentless digital communication, and now year-end functions, many experience what I call the ‘end-of-the-year syndrome’. This state of mind, often manifested as sensory overload, leads to feelings of being overwhelmed, disconnected, and intolerant of social interactions. It’s a common experience across different sensory thresholds, affecting those who struggle with too much sensory input and those who seek extra stimulation alike.

At Sensory Intelligence, we use the analogy of a tree to explain sensory thresholds and how they impact your needs and behaviour. Individuals with low sensory thresholds are the roots of the Sensory Tree. They find themselves distracted and overwhelmed by too much sensory stimuli, leading to potential shutdown or burnout. Bright lights, crowds, and noise can trigger a fight-flight-freeze response, driving a need for isolation. Conversely, people with high sensory thresholds, represented by the tree’s leaves, also face overwhelming social demands in today’s interconnected world but are more comfortable with sensory stimuli. The individuals with medium sensory thresholds, the trunks of the tree, experience overload as they are natural mediators, often not taking their own needs into account.

In response to these challenges, we propose the ‘Over & Out’ break. This concept is about pressing life’s pause button, allowing our nervous system to recuperate without the need to explain or feel guilty about prioritising well-being.

Here are some ways to embrace the ‘Over & Out’ approach:

  • Spend time outside: And while you are out there, appreciate the beauty of nature by observing plants, flowers, animals, butterflies, etc. Smell the roses, and jasmine, and lavender. Swing in a hammock. Walk barefoot, allowing the grass to tickle your feet.
  • Time out: Allow yourself time in a calm space with no human or electronic interference.
  • Keep quiet: Listen to the sound of the ocean, your favourite music, or absolutely nothing.
  • Go to bed: Allow your body and nervous system enough time to rest during the night. If you are lucky enough, take that afternoon nap!
  • Have a cup of tea: Soothe your body from the inside out.
  • Get some exercise: Movement is our number one self-regulating strategy.
  • Go for a massage: The effects of deep pressure have been researched for many years – it is a wonderful tool to help calm your nervous system in stressful times.
  • Put your phone or tablet down: Take a proper social interaction break. This will free up your senses to experience the magnificent world around you.

Remember, it is important to occasionally call for an ‘Over & Out’ break. By allowing yourself these moments, you not only avoid sensory overload but also nurture your overall well-being in a demanding world.

About Sensory Intelligence®

Founded in 2003 by registered Occupational Therapist Dr Annemarie Lombard and headquartered in Cape Town, Sensory Intelligence® Consulting consists of a niche group of passionate healthcare professionals experienced in neuroscience.

Sensory Intelligence® Consulting is committed to helping people be healthy, happy, and productive through the 7 senses.

Lombard, who has more than 30 years’ experience and is the author of ‘Sensory Intelligence® – why it matters more than IQ and EQ’, pioneered the Sensory Matrix, a tool that has been designed to assist people understand and manage their 7 senses.

Through the use of revolutionary, innovative, yet simple frameworks of sensory assessments, workshops, and coaching, its clients learn how to engage their 7 senses for improved wellness, relationships, and productivity.

Sensory Intelligence® Consulting won the BPeSA contact centre industry organisations’ “Best Non-Technical Innovation – External Award” in 2010 for their Senses on Call e-assessment tool.

Company Contact:

Dr. Annemarie Lombard

+27 84 661 1010

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