I knew it was bad when I got bored in line at the supermarket and was desperately looking for something to distract me. I’d rather go through social media than stand in line quietly for two minutes. I mean such a mundane action should not require so much stimulation right? Right? But here I am always looking for a distraction. Even as I write this, I so badly want to turn on some music. I want to write and also listen to ‘Midnight Train’ but that’s just another reason to run away from sitting alone in the silence of the world. Is this overstimulation and am I using my gadgets to hide from myself?
The Science of Overstimulation
As per the example above, I only have 2 choices. I could choose to sit with myself and listen to the sound of my voice in my head. In fact, it would be better as I would be able to concentrate on my thoughts and ideas going into this piece. However, I’d rather put on my headphones and listen to music and simultaneously turn on the tv for extra stimulation.
For some reason, I always want to overstimulate myself with sounds and sights. If you’re like me, join me in understanding why that is.
What is Overstimulation?
Overstimulation happens when you are swamped by more experiences, sensations, noise and activity than you can cope with. You may be constantly overstimulating yourself and you don’t even realise it.
Tell me if you relate. Do you also have to watch something when you sit down to eat? Do you have to watch YouTube whilst working? Do you have to listen to music when you go for a run or take a walk?
See? It happens every day right under our noses. Many people like to water it down by calling it multi-tasking when sometimes we’re just doing everything humanely possible to run away from being with ourselves.
Hiding Behind Our Gadgets
Now here’s where our gadgets come into play. We use them as tools to keep us distracted. For example, turning on the Tv as background noise, scrolling through social media on any given break during a task or even listening to music when washing dishes.
It’s okay to do multiple tasks at once but it starts to become a problem when you are using it as a way to constantly distract yourself. Now the world is no easy place to always be a part of but the best way to understand the world is to first understand yourself.
I Just Want To Work and Listen To Music. Is That Wrong?
Now I’m not saying this is wrong and or harmful to your health. Some people even work or perform better when there is overstimulation at play. However my main question is, when you really think about it, do you have to? What would go wrong if you didn’t go to the loo with your phone? Would the world burn if you didn’t listen to music whilst washing the dishes?
It may not be harmful now but in the long run, you may end up losing yourself to the distractions of the world. In as much as running while listening to music is motivational, it is equally important to take these moments and be with and listen to yourself. We need some time alone, in our private spaces, to recharge, process, and collect ourselves after a stressful period, or after overstimulation.
What Can We Do To Reduce Overstimulation?
I’m doing a small challenge this week, and you can join me too. This is a week long challenge where I’m taking the first day to note down these different habits that I have grown so fond of and then abstaining from them for the rest of the week. I’m going to
- Depend less on my gadgets for distractions – No phones while in the washroom or line at the bank.
- Focus on one task at a time without mixing in too many stimulators
- Touch grass – I’m going to go into the world with no gadgets and listen to the cars on the road and the people on the streets and see what this world has in store for me.
- Engage in positive stimulation – Instead of watching a funny YouTube video whilst eating I may just sit and enjoy the flavours as they did in Ratatouille
Understanding gadgets and overstimulation is no easy feat and borders around mental disorders, ADHD, and many other issues we could be facing. This is not a piece to condemn or abolish overstimulation. It’s more of a space to understand what you may be going through and giving solutions if you deem it an issue. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below and let me know what you think.