Written by Marisa Harczuk

How to counteract overstimulation

For many of us, our devices are the first thing we pick up in the morning and the last thing we put down before heading to sleep. This always on culture has created a dependence on devices and made it increasingly difficult to unplug and step back.

We have become accustomed to a constant entertainment stream available through our devices, but it doesn’t hold true for just social media and streaming applications: email and work messaging platforms contribute to the problem as well. There is nothing wrong with wanting to connect with others, but the non-stop refresh of our feeds and inboxes has resulted in overstimulation.

Learn how to identify overstimulation, improve your nightly routine to lessen its impact, and create the time and space for you to reflect more thoughtfully and deeply on your life and goals.

Identifying overstimulation

Overstimulation can come from many different aspects of life, but our reliance on technology, coupled with a persistent remote work focus, has intensified the problem. Feelings of overstimulation can be identified as excessive mental or psychological stimulation that leaves you feeling tired or overwhelmed. It can manifest itself in the form of stress, tension, or restlessness, and can heavily disrupt your daily routine.

You may not even realize that overstimulation is creeping in. During the height of the pandemic when most work was done remotely, technology became an increasing presence in our daily lives. You may have done meetings over Zoom, collaborated on projects through Microsoft suites, or researched a topic online. The only way to work was on a computer, and then you relaxed by using your phone and checking social media or watching television. There was no escaping technology, especially when at home all day.

This results in overstimulation, which can cause a multitude of symptoms. Typically, it stems from a feeling of being overwhelmed, which many then attribute to stress. But, overstimulation can also lead to restlessness and physical, mental, and emotional tension. It can feel like you have been running on overdrive and are plagued by exhaustion.

These feelings are normal, and there are many ways to combat overstimulation from technology.

Take technology breaks

Taking a break from technology will do wonders to alleviate overstimulation. When you step away from a task at work, skip picking up your phone or turning to the TV and try to find something truly quiet and relaxing. As the weather gets nicer, spend more time outside, go for a walk, and soak up some sun. Read a book, find a fun recipe, or pickup a new hobby: anything that isn’t centered around a screen will improve your symptoms of overstimulation greatly.

And luckily, our devices can help us use our devices less. For iPhone users, a weekly screen time report is sent every Sunday, and countless similar apps and reports exist to track device time. If the number on your weekly report scares you, you can set up time limits on your most used (or abused) apps. This will help reign in the time spent on your phone and help you get more of your life back. 

Change your scenery

Our homes weren’t designed to become our main workspace. If you’re feeling consistently fatigued, tried changing up your environment: move your desk to a new room, shift your furniture to catch some more sun, or invest in a standing desk. Blue light glasses are also a worthwhile investment as they can help reduce eye strain from prolonged screen time. 

Getting away from technology and the constant screen time is the true remedy for overstimulation, but technology can’t always be avoided. Instead, try to find ways to improve your relationship with your work and your work space so you can feel fresh and confident when approaching the work day. 

Take time to reduce your stress levels

There are many easy ways to reduce stress. Make sure to take time away from your work to do the things you love. Or, practice mindfulness and holistic methods to be more in touch with your mind and body. Improving your mental health can greatly improve your work environment and your work product as a result.

Overstimulation is completely normal and can manifest itself in many ways. By following these practices and making yourself more aware of it, you can combat the exhaustion and restlessness and create a better work environment. Not only that, but you can have a happier, more fulfilling day when you make an effort to step away from technology and take care of your mind and body.

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