Tamara Rose
Oct 29

Calming the Brain and Regulating Your Nervous System

The Overstimulation Epidemic

In today's fast-paced world, we're bombarded with a constant stream of sensory stimuli, from the glare of screens to the cacophony of notifications. Our nervous systems are under siege, leaving our brains in a state of perpetual hyperactivity. However, understanding how to regulate your nervous system can help you regain control over your actions and find the calm amidst the chaos. Let's explore the science behind overstimulation, its impact on the nervous system, and evidence-based strategies for finding balance.

1. Screen Time and Digital Overload:

Evidence: A 2019 study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an astonishing average of 7 hours per day on screens. This includes time spent on smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs.

Impact: Excessive screen time during childhood is concerning as it has been linked to attention problems, impaired impulse control, and decreased self-regulation. The overstimulating nature of digital devices, with their rapid visuals and constant notifications, contributes to this issue.

2. Social Media and Mental Health:

Evidence: Research conducted by Harvard University has revealed that excessive use of social media platforms can have detrimental effects on mental health. Heavy use of these platforms has been associated with feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Impact: The constant barrage of social media notifications, updates, and the fear of missing out (FOMO) can heighten feelings of stress and overstimulation. Social media's design, which encourages users to check their accounts frequently, can contribute to a state of perpetual mental hyperactivity.

3. Email Overload:

Evidence: A study from Carleton University found that the average office worker receives a staggering 121 emails per day. This constant inflow of digital communication can overwhelm individuals.

The pressure to stay constantly connected and respond promptly to emails creates a sense of urgency and overstimulation. It can hinder one's ability to focus on tasks, leading to increased stress levels and decreased productivity.

4. Multitasking and Information Overload:

Evidence: Research published in the journal "Computers in Human Behavior" has shown that multitasking, driven by the need to manage multiple digital inputs simultaneously, can lead to a decline in cognitive performance.

Impact: The information overload and the temptation to multitask with various digital devices further exacerbate overstimulation. It can make it challenging for individuals to concentrate on a single task, thereby diminishing their overall productivity and well-being.

Scientific Strategies for Regulating Your Nervous System

Our nervous system plays a pivotal role in regulating our responses to the external world. It consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, both of which influence our body's state of arousal and relaxation. In a state of constant overstimulation, the sympathetic nervous system is often dominant, keeping us in "fight or flight" mode.

1. Mindfulness and Meditation:

Evidence: Numerous scientific studies have documented the benefits of mindfulness and meditation practices. For instance, a study published in the journal "Psychological Science" demonstrated that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and enhance attention span. Additionally, research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) found that mindfulness-based stress reduction programs can effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness and meditation techniques encourage the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing the dominance of the sympathetic nervous system responsible for "fight or flight" responses. These practices are valuable tools for managing stress and sensory overload.

2. Nature and Green Spaces:

Evidence: The positive influence of nature on mental well-being has been well-documented. A study published in the "International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health" revealed that exposure to natural environments can significantly reduce stress levels and improve mood. Another study in "Environmental Science & Technology" indicated that even short walks in green spaces can boost mood and cognitive function.

Impact: Spending time in natural settings can provide a reprieve from overstimulation, as it allows individuals to disconnect from digital devices and immerse themselves in a calmer, less chaotic environment. The connection with nature has a soothing effect on the nervous system.

3. Digital Detox:

Evidence: Research published in "Nature Communications" suggests that limiting social media use to just 30 minutes a day can lead to significant reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms. Additionally, a study in "JAMA Pediatrics" found that reducing screen time for children led to improvements in attention and self-regulation.

Impact: Implementing a digital detox by reducing screen time and unplugging from constant notifications can alleviate the sensory overload that overstimulation brings. This, in turn, supports better mental health and well-being.

4. Regular Exercise:

Evidence: The American Psychological Association highlights that regular exercise can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. A meta-analysis published in the "Journal of Clinical Psychology" found that physical activity is associated with significant reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms.

Impact: Exercise has a direct impact on the nervous system by promoting the release of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers. Engaging in physical activity helps individuals manage stress and anxiety, which are often exacerbated by overstimulation.

5. Sleep Hygiene:

Evidence: Research in the "Sleep Medicine Clinics" emphasizes the importance of sleep hygiene in maintaining a well-regulated nervous system. Consistent sleep schedules, relaxation before bedtime, and other sleep hygiene practices can significantly improve the quality of sleep.

Adequate and quality sleep is essential for nervous system regulation. It allows the brain and body to recover from the sensory onslaught experienced during waking hours. Proper sleep hygiene supports overall mental health and well-being.


In a world where sensory overstimulation is the norm, it's crucial to understand the impact on our nervous system and brain. Scientific evidence suggests that regulating the nervous system is possible through mindfulness, time in nature, digital detox, exercise, and prioritizing quality sleep. By implementing these strategies, you can take control of your actions and find the calm necessary to thrive in our overstimulated world. Remember, it's essential to strike a balance between the demands of the external world and your internal well-being.

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