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Avoiding Holiday Overstimulation

Overstimulation occurs when there are too many sights, sounds, or activities for an individual’s brain to handle. Often, this can lead to fatigue, headaches, or exacerbation or symptoms. During the holidays, there are parties, school events, crowded stores, presents, and family get together which can cause the brain to be over bombarded with information.

If you can identify what happens before, you can better control what happens after!

Here are some tips to help you avoid overstimulation during the holidays.

  1. Identify a quiet place to go to if you are feeling overwhelmed. This gives you a chance to take a break, but allows your loved ones to stay involved in the festivities.
  2. Avoid crowded stores by ordering gifts online.
  3. If you are shopping in stores, remember to make a list in advance and plan your trips on weekdays. Try going early in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds.
  4. Wear a cap with a brim or lightly tinted sunglasses to minimize the glare of bright lights in stores or flashing lights on a tree.
  5. Wear noise-reducing headphones or earbuds. Extra Tip: These are also great gift ideas for loved ones with traumatic brain injury.
  6. Ask a friend to go with you to stores or holiday parties. They can help you navigate crowds and anxiety-producing situations.
  7. Plan in advance as much as possible. Ask your hosts what their plans are so you aren’t surprised by anything.
  8. Volunteer to help with the holiday activities that you enjoy the most and are least stressful for you.
  9. Remember to ask for help and accept help if it is offered to you.
  10. Ask someone you trust to help you with a budget to avoid overspending.
  11. Take a nap if you need a break.
  12. Remember that it’s okay to skip the big parties and plan to celebrate in a way that makes you comfortable and happy.
  13. Check in advance to see if fireworks are part of outdoor celebrations. If they are, feel free to skip them if they make you uncomfortable.
  14. If flashing lights bother you, ask your friends and family to turn off the flashing feature on tree lights or other decorations.
  15. You can let your host know in advance that you may need to leave early. It will help you feel comfortable if you need to get home or to a quiet place. It can also help avoid any hurt feelings.
Dr. Mary Finck, Doctor of Physical Therapy, physical therapist, vestibular and concussion therapist

Dr. Mary Finck is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at ESP Sports Medicine. She specializes in neuromuscular conditions including brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and more. She has been a physical therapist for 10 years and uses a variety of tools to improve function. These tools include dry needling, muscle scraping, and vacuum cupping. She also uses function and motor control exercises. As a result, Mary is one of the top physical therapists in Boulder County.