Thoughts on Sensory Overload

I haven’t been really thinking about this particular post all that long (maybe a couple of hours really).  I have been thinking about the topic broadly for a good while.  So some of this will be “well thought,” while other bits are about some specific things which came up just earlier today.

Today’s reasons for thinking about this

I am on my “regular work day” which means that I had scheduled to do work (this is work, which is really cool) for today, and I had been really looking forward to doing my work today, and starting to think of what to do.

Last week, I had ended up starting more or less when I planned to.  But, that was kind of messed up with a few things that happened sort of half way through my day, so I ended up stopping and not getting back to any of the work I had been working on until today (this afternoon).

I hadn’t really thought a whole lot until I started my work today (much later than planned) and was talking online with a friend about how I wasn’t working, and that I was “hiding from work.”  And I was listening with headphones because I do that when I am working (and apparently when I am “hiding from work”) and didn’t really think much about it until I was talking about some stuff with him about that.

I had noticed in past times that while working (with headphones) that they are really good at reducing my distractibility, and irritability (mostly related to sensory overload).  I had not really “clicked” on the fact that this is a good thing.

I had various people talk to me about getting “noise cancelling headphones” (which these honestly are not, there is no active noise cancelling, only the design has attenuation of “external sound” perhaps very much by design) and I really felt that was a really bad idea.

Why?  Because I “experience the world through my ears” on such a real regular basis, that I felt that I would feel “isolated” and “closed in” to such a great extent that it would be really hard to be able to enjoy it.

The reality of wearing headphones

Yes, I can say quite clearly that I do experience the problems which I feared would happen.  Though I have found that mostly it is not as much of a big issue as I expected it to be.  I think a big part of that is, especially how I have been using them, the fact that (as just happened) I am feeling unable to engage in the “regular world” and when that is “an issue” what it really happening, is I notice it, but because I also have isolated myself and turned myself into “work mode” it allows those normally “I’m just being aware” things lead to my just being slightly distracted, and mostly not engaged in that outside stuff.

This has been really unexpected.  I felt that this was not going to be the case.  I would have thought that those events would have been pretty annoying.  I still feel that it is not as “enjoyable” as being able to engaged in that, but another observation where things are a huge improvement makes it far better.

A number of times I end up with a situation where there is “just too much noise” (grain grinding, vacuuming, etcetera) that I really can’t deal with, and I try to run away from that, and I have found (especially earlier today) that the headphones drop that to “I can do stuff, and focus on stuff” that I was just not able to at all…

So, in part, this is probably in part a little bit of a “my fear of headphones” was largely unwarranted type post.  It really has been nice to start to think of the “preventing/reducing” sensory overload as something that actually has been something that this is a thing that actually can work.  Even for someone who really enjoys being out and experiencing the sound space of the world.

I have not actually tested to see how being out where I most feared they would be a problem, if they actually ended up being more of a benefit, or a detriment.

Just some quick thoughts.

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