February 16th, 2012

Понемногу обо всем (31) Overcoming Overwhelm


All of us experience overwhelm at times, and for many people times like the holiday season can be overfull of things to do—even if most of them are pleasant. When there is too much happening at once, it is hard to focus on what we need to pay attention to, or think and decide what to do. Another phrase for this is “sensory overload.” For instance, when I am following directions while driving to an unfamiliar address, I find that I do much better if I turn the radio off. If I don’t, I begin to have symptoms that are much the same as in those diagnosed with “ADHD.”

So the fundamental problem with overwhelm is that there is too much information to process in a given time frame. This can be because there is too much occurring simultaneously, or because it is being presented too fast sequentially for us to process it well. This “sensory overload” has two main components. One is the actual external sensory input around us in the moment, and the other is the internal input from our own minds. Let’s consider the external input first.

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