Holiday Sensory Overload: How do you manage?

Posted by Rachel, Volunteer Mentor @rwinney, Dec 20, 2021

Managing sensory overload during the holidays or other social settings can be challenging. Due to Central Sensitization Syndrome (CSS), my brain receives louder messages from my body and surrounding stimuli. I have sensitized sensors that over-react to light, sound, smell, taste, temperature, movement and touch. That being said, comfort and control may not be easy in all settings, especially holiday gatherings where there are multiple people talking, laughing and joking. Music playing, mixtures of aromas from food, candles and perfumes, along with a spectacle of lights and temps. Not to mention stress alone from the hustle and bustle.

I would love to hear how you have worked towards controlling sensory overload? What tips can you share that helped you be more comfortable in social settings that produce sensory overload?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Chronic Pain group.

I don't really go to any social settings other than a few times with two other people 🙂

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I try to avoid such situations and, when impossible, I stay as short a time as possible and go home, put on comfy clothes, and sit by the fire with the lights off and no music.

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I avoid those situations as best I can. I have a big family. Being with all of them at once is exhausting for me. But I make it through and am relieved when they leave. Takes 24 hours to recover.

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I hear you on the recovery part. I try my best to use graded exposure by exposing myself to smaller amounts and then gradually build up, but in some settings this is difficult.

My family is understanding and supportive so it's up to me to make my needs be known. I find that stepping aside to my quiet space for 10 minutes or so helps a bit. Also, belly breathing techniques and visualization help calm my nervous system down.

It's hard because we really want to be with family and friends to rejoice. Distraction is a powerful tool to make the brain shift away from problems.

Smaller groups have been helpful to me. Limiting the noise, allows better success. Modification helps me not get too overwhelmed. This year I have delegated a lot more and I'm learning to not feel guilty about asking for more help. I am always working on how to be social on my terms so I can have a successful outcome.

Life is too short to always be alone. Been there, done that. I'll keep trying. How bout you?

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Big family on both sides and we have 7 kids with our first grandson born this year.
I get my time in early or when I feel my best for the day, then I relax either in my lazyboy or in bed. Simple rule is if you want to hangout with me it's one on one and it's in my comfort zone. The reason I act like this is because if I don't then I don't get quality time with everyone and doing it the other way is to painful and just to get back to my normal pain take a few days.
I used to suck it up but the recovery time was to much, my wife and I talked about it and this allows to to see everyone and spend quality time with them without killing myself.
Merry Christmas

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All awesome contributions to a wonderfully collective solution! Thanks for sharing your helpful hints!

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@budo7

Big family on both sides and we have 7 kids with our first grandson born this year.
I get my time in early or when I feel my best for the day, then I relax either in my lazyboy or in bed. Simple rule is if you want to hangout with me it's one on one and it's in my comfort zone. The reason I act like this is because if I don't then I don't get quality time with everyone and doing it the other way is to painful and just to get back to my normal pain take a few days.
I used to suck it up but the recovery time was to much, my wife and I talked about it and this allows to to see everyone and spend quality time with them without killing myself.
Merry Christmas

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It's your life. Live it the way you see fit and are comfortable with. Merry Christmas!

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@budo7

Big family on both sides and we have 7 kids with our first grandson born this year.
I get my time in early or when I feel my best for the day, then I relax either in my lazyboy or in bed. Simple rule is if you want to hangout with me it's one on one and it's in my comfort zone. The reason I act like this is because if I don't then I don't get quality time with everyone and doing it the other way is to painful and just to get back to my normal pain take a few days.
I used to suck it up but the recovery time was to much, my wife and I talked about it and this allows to to see everyone and spend quality time with them without killing myself.
Merry Christmas

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@budo7 Problem solving 101. Love this! I was the same as you with push/crash. That doesn't do any one any good. It took me a while to learn (and I'm still learning) that honest open communication is essential for the best possible outcome. Merry Christmas!

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Happy Holidays to everyone out there giving it your best effort. ☃️

Keep up the good work!

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@louisezielinski

All awesome contributions to a wonderfully collective solution! Thanks for sharing your helpful hints!

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@louisezielinski Welcome Louise. Thank you for joining the conversation. Do you have any hints to share?

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I so like being with my family. I have learned to tell them I am tired and they have to go home, which is so hard to do. The recovery after one busy day does rake 2-3 days.

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@louisezielinski

All awesome contributions to a wonderfully collective solution! Thanks for sharing your helpful hints!

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I really like the responses. I hadn't realized there was another person "like" me, let alone "many"! What a strange comforting it is, too. My neighbors and friends, such as I have, have complained about my seclusion or need to be alone. I truly do understand and hope my last days will be as open to others like me .

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