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Managing Heightened Sensitivity for Better Mental Health

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January 18, 2016
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How to Trust Yourself When You Live with the Racing Thoughts and Sensitivity of Mental Health Issues

Everyone has times when the stress mounts up to an almost unbearable level, when you don’t get enough sleep, when you have to make difficult decisions, when family or work issues are pressing and need attention and resolution.

For people who are dealing with a wide range of mental health issues, these times when the demands of life seems to pile up can be extremely distressing or even overwhelming.

That’s why it’s important to understand the thoughts and behaviors that may arise when living with any type of mental health challenge. That understanding helps keep issues in proportion and allows you to deal with them in ways that smooth out life.

Heightened Sensitivity to Noise, Lights and Crowds

First comes awareness. Yes, thoughts are racing. Emotions are escalating. Noises seem too loud. Lights are too bright. Even some smells are annoying.
For some people, this overstimulation of the senses is aggravating.

It may seem that the brain becomes confused and loses the ability to filter out input it doesn’t need.

This can make a person feel overwhelmed, pressured, irritable, emotional and exhausted. It may happen in a large, crowded, noisy place or it could happen at home with a few family members or friends.

So while friends or family may enjoy all this noise and activity, those who are extremely sensitive to outside stimulation can begin by being aware that it’s a just a difference in brain response.

Understanding the Causes of Heightened Sensitivity

The main thing to be aware of is that for people with heightened sensitivity, it’s the way the brain processes stimulation from the outside world.

This intensified sensitivity to input may be related to anxiety, attention deficit, bipolar or post-traumatic stress disorders.

Managing Heightened Sensitivity

From understanding comes self-care. Finding a therapist you trust can help you identify the issues and move forward with medication or counseling that
builds a stronger physical and emotional foundation.

You can learn to take a pause, step back and trust yourself to make good decisions. Here are 5 suggestions that can help you learn to trust your thoughts and feelings and the choices you make about your own behavior.

  1. Learn to pause and notice your thoughts and feelings without judgement
  2. Just “be” for a little while. Instead of following racing thoughts or wild emotions, wait to act.
  3. Think about what you would like to think or feel and do that with as much confidence as possible. That positive action helps push beyond the self-doubt.
  4. When doubts creep in, pause again. Replace those doubts with positive truths you have come to understand.
  5. Know that learning to trust yourself when dealing with any type of mental health issue is a process. With each pause, with each positive decision, sometimes with help from a therapist, and by being compassionate with yourself, you move forward step-by-step and day-by-day toward a greater sense of well-being and peace.

The overall path to increasing trust in yourself is to be consistent about self-care and find your own ways to reduce overstimulation and increase calm.


“Learning to Trust Yourself When You Live with Mental Illness,”

Mental Illness Can Overstimulate Your Brain,”

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