Do any of your senses irritate you?

Sensory sensitisation .

The sensory nervous system can become sensitised.

This means our senses, like hearing and seeing, become more intense. This can cause symptoms like tinnitus, light sensitivity or hypersensitive pain responses (allodynia).

This happens because our brain has learnt a particular sensation might be important and has strengthened the neural pathways that code this sensation.

Frustration with these especially annoying symptoms feeds into the process as a vicious cycle.

When we’re stressed or annoyed our brain makes worrying sensations feel even more intense and the learning processes embed more easily.

What to do about sensory sensitization

1. Don’t avoid things that trigger your sensitivity.

For example, if you’re sensitive to light, don’t stay in the dark all the time. This prevents the brain learning a different response.

2. Learn how to shift from the SNS to the PNS.

Entering physiological rest can help interrupt the cycle of stress and sensitisation. Accepting your symptoms can also reduce frustration.

3. Learn to shift your attention away from symptoms.

This is necessary to undo the learning process.

4. Gradually expose yourself to the trigger in a controlled way to build tolerance.

For example, if moving your head quickly gives you vertigo, start by moving it very slowly, while you keep the body relaxed through breathing evenly and calmly. Once you are confident, gradually build up the speed and range of movement, giving the body and brain time to adapt and learn the new response.

5. Find other ways to help your brain strengthen new pathways.

This is how sound therapy for tinnitus works.