Managing Sensory Processing Issues: Navigating A World Of Heightened Senses

Posted on December 19, 2023

If you or a loved one is grappling with sensory processing issues following a brain injury, you know that the world can sometimes feel overwhelmingly intense. Sounds might be too loud, lights too bright, or textures uncomfortably harsh. It's like living in a world where the volume is turned up too high. But there's comfort in knowing that there are ways to navigate this heightened sensory landscape. Let's explore some gentle, effective techniques to manage these altered sensory experiences together.

Understanding Sensory Processing Issues

Sensory processing issues occur when the brain has difficulty interpreting and responding to sensory information. This can lead to feelings of discomfort, anxiety, or being overwhelmed. Recognizing what triggers these feelings is the first step in managing them.

Creating a Sensory-Friendly Environment

  1. Soft Lighting: If bright lights are a problem, use dimmer switches or soft-colored lampshades. Natural light can also be less harsh than artificial lighting.
  2. Controlled Soundscapes: For those sensitive to noise, noise-canceling headphones can be a sanctuary. Alternatively, playing soft, soothing background music can help drown out jarring external noises.
  3. Comforting Textures: Surround yourself with textures that feel good. This could mean wearing clothing made of soft fabrics or having a favorite blanket or cushion nearby.
  4. Calm and Organized Spaces: A cluttered environment can be overstimulating. Keeping your living space tidy and organized can help reduce sensory overload.

Personal Techniques for Managing Sensory Overload

  1. Mindfulness and Breathing Exercises: Practicing mindfulness can help ground you when you're feeling overwhelmed. Deep breathing exercises can also be a quick way to center yourself.
  2. Sensory Diet: This involves incorporating activities into your daily routine that help you manage your sensory experiences. It could include specific physical activities, tactile experiences, or relaxation techniques.
  3. Gradual Exposure: Slowly and gently exposing yourself to sensory experiences can help desensitize your reactions over time. This should be done carefully and at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Seeking Professional Guidance

  1. Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapists specialize in helping individuals with sensory processing issues. They can provide personalized strategies and exercises tailored to your specific needs.
  2. Counseling and Support: Sometimes, talking about your experiences with a counselor or in a support group can provide relief and new coping strategies.

Living with heightened or altered sensory experiences can be challenging, but with the right strategies and support, it can become more manageable. Remember, it's about finding what works for you, creating a space that feels safe and comfortable, and taking things one step at a time. You're not alone in this journey, and with patience and self-compassion, you can navigate this world in a way that feels right for you. Let's embrace these challenges with a spirit of exploration and hope, knowing that every small step is a move towards a more comfortable and enjoyable life.