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Quick tips for dismantling sensory overload

I’m quickly realizing I have a sensory processing disorder similar to one of my children, where the overstimulation of an environment can send my peace packing and deep dive my body and brain into an anxiety attack.

If you find yourself in a situation of overwhelm, where you can’t find the words to describe how you are feeling, I encourage you to “draw it out” or “write it out” – where art and creative expression can help communicate rather than exacerbate the situation.

During times of confusion and conflict, simply allowing yourself to slow down and focus on something else can bring you back to a calm and reasonable state.

Step 1 - Shut it down.

In the event you have entered a "Red Zone" in terms of regulating intense emotions, where you are about to burst in anger, cry, want to flee the scene, etc., remove any unnecessary stimulation (shut off tv, music, dim lights, ask people to leave the room, you leave the room, stop looking at your phone) and shut it down.

Step 2 - Retreat

Get to a quiet space if you can (even if that’s hiding in the bathroom with the lights off). We talk a lot about sensory overload in our home, so when one of us is experiencing too much input (loud noises, multiple people talking, music playing on a phone, television on, the sound of a vacuum in another room – which all can happen simultaneously in our home) we’ve started communicating with one another that we are a bit overwhelmed and we need to “reset”.

Most of the time the person who needs a minute to regroup will retreat to a quiet(er) space, but if we are all in a car, we declare “quiet time” for the person in need. Headphones come out for those who want to continue to listen to music, or they are used to muffle sound.

Simply sharing how we are feeling has brought about great new ways to communicate with each other and practice empathy when one of us is struggling.

And all of humanity can benefit from a little more compassion.



Learn more about The Zones of Regulation, created by Leah Kuypers ​on

A word about self-regulation from Leah:

“Self-regulation is something everyone continually works on whether or not we are cognizant of it. We all encounter trying circumstances that test our limits from time to time. If we are able to recognize when we are becoming less regulated, we are able to do something about it to manage our feelings and get ourselves to a healthy place. This comes naturally for some, but for others it is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced. This is the goal of The Zones of Regulation (or Zones for short).”


About the author:

Elizabeth Rago is a mama, wife, writer, and the creator of The Modern Domestic Woman (MDW). After a series of unfortunate events including job loss, a car accident, bankruptcy, and a physical and emotional breakdown, Elizabeth felt compelled to shift the primary focus of MDW from pretty pictures and goofy memes to a space of honest support for the modern woman.

A pursuer of peace, Elizabeth is on a mission to help women from all backgrounds and walks of life to find their own strength and talents amid the chaos of life.

Readers can contact Elizabeth at


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