MAKE THE WORLD GO AWAY
Have you ever felt like you just wanted the world to go away? The real name for this feeling is sensory overload and this can hit any one, at any time, and at any age. Nothing is majorly wrong with us if we ever feel this way. We all have these moments of anxiousness, some more than others. Really, it is my belief that some of us are better at knowing what strategies to use to help in overcoming sensory overload. These are the strategies that work for me and in today's times, I just thought it might be a good idea to share some of them.
Some of the things that can take my senses to an overload status can be a tv or music that is just way too loud for me to enjoy, or being at a public pool where the noise level is way out of control. When I was working at a school, walking into the school cafeteria where 350 children were all eating or in line getting ready to eat or in line to throw their trash away and all speaking loudly to be heard over the other 349 children yelling -- this was most definitely a BIG sensory overload for me.
Then throw in the smells of the food and the lighting, not to mention the smell of the mop water cleaning up the messes made. I had trouble walking in the cafeteria and then one day the administrative team, of which I was a part of, came up with the wonderful (not) idea of helping the teacher assistants out so they could do their jobs of tutoring the kindergarten students. This was a good thing. The Superintendent and his Board took away more than half of the assistants we had. So who lost out? The children. There was no one to tutor them during the three hours that it took to have lunches going on in our large school. We, as the admin. team each had a 30 minute duty. It was just about all I could do to help out in this way. There were some parents and teachers who told us that we should have a silent lunch. We decided as a team that it just was not quite fair to do that. They needed a time to talk with one another after being quiet in their classroom environment. All we could do was to walk up and down and try to stop the ones who were yelling or getting up out of their seats or God forbid throwing food across the room. Sound easy? Go volunteer for a day and find out for yourself. I quickly learned some strategies that helped me deal with this overload just to make it through the 30 minutes.
I could not wear headphones.
Inappropriate! Also, a weighted vest was just too hot to wear. I did put on a apron to help protect my clothes from food on little ones hands or milk that was knocked over just as I walked by. So I just thought of it as my weighted vest using my imagination.
I chewed gum to help get my mind where it needed to be. I thought about that bubble bath when I was able to go home to get all of the gunge off of me.
Plus, I used my journal to validate my feelings; that it was ok to feel this way. I had to make a sense of some kind of control over what seemed to be uncontrollable things. That helped to soothe my soul.
Thinking of what dinner my husband and I would put together and then what movie we would watch together. He really did know that I could not take some loud and crazy action movie. Actually, even though retired for a few years now, I still can't take loud music or movies. Guns going off and yelling in a movie just make me more anxious. I need movies like When Harry Met Sally, Love Actually, Steel Magnolias, etc. He watches the loud movies with headphones while I write, paint or read. What a saint he is!
A great strategy that works for me now is to talk it out with my dogs. They always listen and never judge me or talk back.