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Sensory Overload in the Workplace: 6 Tips to Help You Cope

21 Apr. 2022
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Do you feel like your work environment can be too overwhelming for you sometimes? Does it ever feel like the surrounding sounds are going to explode your head? Or the light from your computer screen is piercing through your eyes? Chances are you are experiencing sensory overload. Simply explained, sensory overload occurs when your brain receives more sensory input than it can process at one time. When it occurs your attention gets distorted, and you become unable to focus on anything except the things that keep bothering you. Coping with sensory overload can be tough. Especially when other people don’t seem to understand your situation.

Sensory overload can happen to anyone. But, it is more common among individuals who suffer from ADHD, autism, and other mental health disorders like anxiety disorder or PTSD. People who are fighting chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or stroke survivors are more likely to be affected by sensory overload than the general population.

Signs to Look Out For

Signs and symptoms of sensory overload may not be consistent with every person. But the general symptoms include:

●Not being able to ignore the sounds in the background.
●Inability to focus on the task at hand.
●Becoming sensitive to textures, fabrics, and clothing tags.
●Feeling the urge of covering your eyes and ears.
●Being annoyed, irritable, and restless.

How to Deal With Sensory Overload?

The best way to deal with this is to prevent your mind from getting flooded with sensory information. Secondly, you can establish a coping mechanism. Since the symptoms of sensory overload differ from person to person, there is no generalized way to deal with it when it does occur. So, the ideal way to deal with this is to develop coping strategies that work for you.

Here are a few tips that will help you deal with sensory overload:

1.Pinpoint Your Triggers And Identify Early Symptoms

All types of sensory stimuli don’t cause mental overload. Every person affected by it has different triggers. For instance, you may find crowded places and parties overwhelming but for someone else, just flashing lights are enough to send them into mental overdrive. The point is everyone has different triggers. And the best way to cope with sensory overload is to identify your triggers so you can avoid them later on.

2.Be Prepared

When you have to attend a party or a gathering which you know will be over-stimulating for you, then you should prepare for it beforehand. And once you’re there, allow yourself to escape any situation that might be triggering for you.

3.Schedule Some Me Time

Take time out of your schedule just for yourself. When you’re in the office, it can be hard to escape an over-stimulating situation. So, allow your mind to relax and unwind whenever you get breaks. This will reduce the pressure on your mind so less likely to get over-stimulated in the later day.

4.Keep Your Schedule Simple And Straightforward



Having a routine can lay off the pressure of deciding what to do next. Although the next day may not go exactly as you scheduled it. But it’ll give you more control over your time. Also, when making a schedule keep a little time for yourself in between tasks and appointments. Having a proper routine is a great way to avoid unnecessary sensory load.

5.Meditate And Practice Mindfulness

Do you have a quiet room in your office? If you do use it to practice meditation and mindfulness. Such activities calm your mind and body. To practice mindfulness, you don’t even have to move from your desk. Taking small breaks here and there to be mindful can work wonders.

6.Reduce Stress Levels

Remove unnecessary stress from your life. Whether it is related to your personal life or work, unwanted stress wears you down. Look around your home, whatever stresses you out, get rid of it. Even if the lighting bothers you, have it changed. Remove clutter from your home and go for a more minimalistic approach. Keep everything you own properly organized.

Take up relaxing activities like reading, journal keeping, warm baths, and adult coloring books.

Final Word

Sensory overload can be an overwhelming experience. Especially when you don’t understand what’s happening to you. It is a situation that is hard to explain to your boss. But, is better if you come clean with him/her. This way you can ask for favours that help you get more work done. For example, you can ask your boss to move your desk to a quieter corner.

Make resting your priority. Sensory overload maybe your brain’s way of telling you to take a break. Get an adequate amount of sleep. Chill and relax whenever you can. You may not have control over all the sensory information that surrounds you but by mastering the above-discussed strategies, you’ll be able to avoid much of it.

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