We have all been there, you come back from a road trip or vacation and even though you were full of energy while you were away, when you come back you feel fatigued and a bit overwhelmed. Sensory overload is a very common occurrence when establishing yourself back into the norms of society after being away. What is considered “normal” by today’s standards are massive amounts of artificial light, computer screens and plenty of other sights, smells, and sounds that cannot be found in nature. All these stimulants cause stress and overload on your nervous system. In this article we wanted to talk about a few ways to help you combat sensory overload when returning back home after being away for a vacation, river retreat in Utah, Burning Man and everything in between.
These experiences away from home are crucial for our personal growth and I suggest that you try and get away as frequently as possible. Whether that is once a year, once a month, or once a day. We will talk about the deep importance of these trips in another post, but in this one, we want to focus on a few ways to help you best establish yourself back into the day to day life. In this article we want to cover three main ways we have found that help tremendously when coming back; rest (giving yourself proper time to decompress), taking stock of your experiences while you were away and what emotions/thoughts they brought, stay away from your smartphone, and televisions as much as possible.
Research shows that over 85% of people experience some type of “trip lag”, which is essentially the crash you get when you return home from being away. Giving yourself proper time to rest before you return to the hustle and bustle of traditional life is one of the easiest ways to help cope with all of the stimulation you will reencounter when coming home. Most research shows that people tend to just jump right back in which will only amplify the fatigue and sensory overload you experience. An article on www.mindbodygreen.com states that giving yourself an extra 24 hours to adjust back into a routine is all the time you need. They suggest doing simple chores like going grocery shopping and doing some laundry to better mentally prepare you to jump back into the routine. So this is just another good reason to get that extra rest that we all need.
Secondly, taking stock of your experiences while away and being present in your thoughts about it will help make the most out of that experience allowing you to adjust back to your traditional life without constantly longing to be away again. Being present with the smell of the air as you’re walking around, the emotions that you’re feeling and everything in between. It seems like such a simple concept but around 60% of the time that we are going about our day we are either thinking about the past or worrying about the future. In these situations, we are not present. It is especially important to be present during these times when we are away; to fully remember the essence and feeling of the trip you must be present. So next time you go away even for just a day trip a few hours away, remember to be present and watch your entire world change before you.
Lastly, when returning home from an extended trip, try and avoid using any type of device or screen for as long as possible. The part of your brain that allows you to be fully present while away is known as the pre-frontal cortex. This is the part of the brain in charge of most cognitive functions and important decision-making. While you’re away from your daily routines and tasks, or when you immerse yourself in nature this part of your brain takes a “break” allowing it to restore itself to full capacity. The constant stimulation from all the devices we use cause strain on this part of the brain and in return, it runs at about 85% while we go about life. Avoiding these notifications and screen usage on any given day is important, but it is crucial in maintaining your peace when coming back from any time away. Sensory overload is more common in individuals whose pre-frontal cortex is running lower. So the more breaks you give your brain, and the fewer notifications you strain yourself with the happy you will be overall.
So in concluding this article I just want to remind each and every one of you to remember to be present in your day-to-day lives. The past has already happened and the future is going to come anyway, but the now, this very moment is only going to happen once and you want to make the most of it.