Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Respond to Overstimulation

I recently spent the weekend in NYC, attending a conference on voice therapy and visiting my Speechie Friend Erika. Erika and I met in 2008 when I completed my clinical fellowship year in Detroit and she has been a valuable friend and colleague since the get-go. It was her dream to move to New York, and she loves that city! I grew up in the distant suburbs of New York and I visited a lot in my youth, so the city has a special place in my heart too. But I haven't been back to visit in years. I was really struck by how BUSY it is there! After all, it is "the city that never sleeps"

SLPs (speech language pathologists) and other clinicians often think about how overstimulation and extra sensory information affect our patients with autism, learning differences, and brain injury. We know that it can lead to agitation or anxiety. We understand that it negatively affects new learning, performance, and accuracy. We even create goals for people to try to improve their performance in the presence of extra sensory input like background noise or distractions. But we don't always think about how typically developing or non brain injured individuals respond to these same situations and environments. 

My NYC weekend helped me become acutely aware of how I respond to them! My work with yoga and other spiritual practices has made me more aware of the energy of different people and places. And my intentional lifestyle, which includes early bedtime, lots of fresh clean food, and rest was definitely in contrast to my weekend on the go. I ate out almost every meal, I stayed up late to reconnect with my friend (and to match that notoriously night owl-y NYC clock), and I did a lot of hurrying around to arrive on time to busses, my course, social dates, etc. On monday, by the time I boarded the T at South Station for the last leg of my journey home, I was SPENT! I wouldn't have changed a thing. I had a blast and learned so much but I could tell the weekend had taken a toll. I was extremely fatigued and I felt like every nerve in my body was about to short circuit. I hobbled down my street suitcases in tow and got to work on damage control.

Here's how I took care of my body and mind after all that overstimulation:

1. I drank a tall glass of water. Not coffee. Not juice. Just water, to hydrate and start my intentional mini-cleanse. 
2. I played some soothing music. My favorite is the Putumayo "Yoga" album. 
3. I ate a home cooked meal. Luckily my partner had cooked the day before and there were delicious leftovers for the win!
4. I took a cool shower, with lavender essential oils sprinkled in the tub at my feet for calming.
5. I dried off and applied a soothing face mask. 
6. I finished off with the neti pot to clean out germs that had hitched a ride on my travels. 
7. The rest of the evening was all about resting and connecting. No work, no electronics. I needed to hit the reset button to be ready for the next day!

Post your comments below! What are some ways you have found to reset after being overstimulated?

1 comment:

  1. Just today I asked the powers that be to please turn off the music in the hallway. When combined with the noise of the thearpy gym, it's over-stim city. Looking forward to yoga tonight to decompress!