If you’re urgently wondering how to stop overstimulation and the anxiety that comes with it, let me comfort you.
You’re not alone!
In fact, this was me circa 2013:
“Can’t… stop… googling….” I numbly said to my Brooklyn roommates as they laughed out loud.
Despite the levity in the air, make no mistake. My words were a cry for help.
I knew I had a problem.
My acupuncturists knew I had a problem too. One had handed me a printout of my diagnosis the year before: Kidney Yin Deficiency.
This is an imbalance that includes adrenal depletion resulting from overstimulation…
“No coffee. Reduce computer time. Lower intake of spicy foods.”
These recommendations popped out at me from the acupuncturist’s sheet.
Now, I’d be lying if I claimed I stopped the excessive googling and found inner peace right away.
I mean… it’s taken a while.
And I still find myself overstimulated at times. (Hello, I’m working online full-time now!)
But I’ll tell you about what I understand so far, at this point in my journey. Starting with this piece of truth:
Technology is the top cause of overstimulation in today’s world.
You know this, I know this… We all know this.
But sometimes it’s important to point out the obvious anyway.
Now that we’ve got that established, let’s move on to the ways to reduce this sensory overload.
Ideas to Stop Overstimulation and Anxiety and Feel Better
Let me be clear, this list includes things I want to try (like getting rid of my smartphone) but haven’t done yet.
But it also mentions things I’ve done in the past and some things I’m doing now.
In total, these are my BEST ideas, and I hope some of them serve you!
1. Get rid of your smart phone. I’d love to do this one soon. I don’t like feeling so addicted to checking messages and updates on the state of the world. Realistically, I’d still need a “stupid phone” to check in with local people. For my family abroad I’d simply connect with them through my laptop.
2. Plant your bare feet on the ground and earth yourself for 20 minutes
3. Phase out drinking coffee. In its place, phase in drinking green tea and herbal teas. (I’m proud to say I’ve done this one, after a 25+ year habit.)
4. Find an offline job or volunteer activity. When I worked in catering in NYC keeping me off screens was one of the benefits. I often wouldn’t carry my phone with me while working, just to make sure I wasn’t tempted…
5. Limit your screen time. You can do this by number of hours or by time of day. You might want to use a rule like, “No screens in the hour before bed.” Or, “No screens in the first hour of the day.” For a young child it’s often “Only one hour of screen time a day.”
6. Exercise outdoors. Or at least not in the section of the gym with all the screens!
7. Go for a walk. Ideally don’t bring your phone.
8. Learn a few home workouts by heart. This is so you can do them by audio cue and not have to look at the screens.
9. Get an offline hobby. Playing music, woodworking, knitting. Solitary crafting activities put you in a flow state. And don’t forget the old classics like board games that promote actual face to face interaction with others. (Wow!) You could also choosing an earth-based hobby like gardening or small-scale farming.
10. Make time for mind-body practices. Meditation, qigong, yoga, prayer. You can also try an active meditation as a bridge into these other things. All of these practices not only relax you and move you “down” from your overstimulated state, but help combat the addictive dopamine stimulation aspect of technology by giving you another, deeper source of pleasure and input.
11. Try acupuncture. In Brooklyn I found a few good acupuncturists who could really knock me out. And I’d find myself just sitting in the park or even on the subway afterwards… Just totally chilled out…. Community acupuncture is a great way to go if you’re on a budget.
12. Use Chinese tonic herbs. An acupuncturist or herbalist can recommend ones for your specific needs. One company I’ve repeat-ordered from is Dragon Herbs. They do a lot of great education through their website and consultants too.
13. Schedule face-to-face time with other people whenever possible. Or simply take full advantage when this happens spontaneously!
14. If you must be on your phone at night, use a blue-light blocking app or glasses.
15. Investigate technology to reduce EMF’s. For example, try shielding foil. You can find a bunch of ideas at this EMF Safety Shop. Or even look into something interesting I recently learned about called biogeometry.
The Tao of Self-Management
I believe that… life exists in a state of balance.
In an extremely cold environment, we naturally seek warming elements.
In an extremely hot environment, we naturally seek cooling elements.
And, in an extremely high-tech environment, we (should) naturally seek grounding, physical, off-line elements.
Maybe part of the challenge is that – we don’t have a great vocabulary for talking about this stuff.
Or, at least, the language of hobbies and crafts… as well as gardening, contemplation, and slowing down… is a forgotten language to so many of us.
There’s a ton of buzz around technology and media (that travels at the speed of light!)… but the slower, deeper elements of our lives… don’t give us that dopamine hit.
And so they don’t get us talking about them as easily. They tend to get a bit lost as parts of our culture.
So yeah. What’s needed is some maturing. A willingness to delay immediate gratification and soul search. And a kind of self-parenting.
Just as a child shouldn’t eat candy and cookies all day…. So we shouldn’t be on screens all day.
A child must regularly eat their vegetables and “real food”. And us adults must regularly set boundaries and enforce our off screen time.
How About You? What Do You Think?
I believe this will be a clearer societal trend and a louder conversation in the years to come.
As technology becomes more and more extreme… people will have to push more and more back in the other direction… Literally, in order to survive!
Resulting in a calmer, saner world filled with more peaceful contented human beings, as we get our tricky relationship with modern technology sorted out.
Now, what about you? What are your favorite ways to stop overstimulation and anxiety in the modern technetronic era?
Leave a comment below!