If you feel overstimulated from life, such as from constant bad news, near-constant noise or anything else that wears you out overtime, it’s time to find a way to lessen the overactivity in your life. These low stimulation activities will help calm your nervous system down and finally relax. If you are sick this is especially relevant.
We all experience things that tax our systems. Sometimes over and over again.
Our society and culture seem to promote constant digital connection and it can seem harder and harder to get some peace and quiet.
This can feel especially true in large urban areas where it can be hard to find some calming green space.
But that’s not all.
We have many obligations for our jobs, with our families and top relationships and to uphold a certain lifestyle. Maybe it’s also about the pressure we place on ourselves just to keep up and maintain status quo.
Our attention spans may mimic ADHD symptoms.
This non-stop pace of dealing with external and internal situations can really cause fatigue and exhaustion.
There are ways out of the cycle of stress.
What are examples of stimulating activities?
There are many examples of stimulating activities and many of them you will recognize as helpful, healthy and important for a meaningful life experience. However, enjoyment of a stimulating activity can wear out different people at different times.
For those with fatigue, chronic illness or acute sickness, even small doses of these types of activities can feel daunting and energy draining.
Even for relatively healthy people, too much on a good stimulating activity can quickly become an excess.
What are mentally stimulating activities?
Mentally stimulating activities are activities that engage various regions of the brain. Some activities may include:
- Puzzles or chess
- Studying a map
- Playing a musical instrument
- Learning new calisthenics
- Making a new recipe
- Background noise or music
- Drinking caffeine
- Public speaking
- HITT exercises
- Watching an intense movie
- Scrolling on your phone for hours
- Reading or watching news programs
- Background noise
- Bright lights or bright sunshine
What activity stimulates the entire brain?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, music activates just about all areas of the brain. Which areas of the brain are activated? According to research, the auditory cortex, emotion regions, memory region, and the motor system. To an extent, musical stimulation of the brain can help improve wellness and wellbeing outcomes as well as help the brain continue to make connections.
Dancing to music increases the brain’s activity.
I certainly enjoy listening to music and dancing. But I do seem to reach a point where too much music becomes less enjoyable and too much movement can be taxing.
The virtue lies in the mean. Meaning, too many cognitive training exercises can, over time, become draining instead of renewing. From the listed cognitive training examples, let’s look at chess playing. Even the best chess player in the world needs a little break for the constant mental stimulation required by discerning various chess moves. And the most sedentary person may appreciate small doses of music or sunshine.
It’s when one is constantly drained that it may be time to switch gears towards more low stimulation activities instead of high stimulation activities.
What are types of low stimulation activities?
If you’re needing a break from life, focusing in low stimulation activities may help, low stimulation meaning activities that are soothing and not super thought provoking.
You can read about my own experience with low stimulation activities while I took a self-guided retreat.
Here are my top favorite non-stimulating activities.
Activity #1: Doing nothing
Activity #2: Sitting outside (doing nothing)
Activity #3: Deep breathing
Activity #4: Gentle stretching
Activity #5: Doing one thing at a time
Activity #6: Moving purposely and slowly
Activity #7: Speaking more slowly
Activity #8: Journaling (brain dumping) whatever comes to mind
Activity #9: Walking in a safe feeling space in nature
Activity #10: Listening to slow-paced instrumental music
I guess you could just ride up and down in an elevator listening to that mindless jazz they always seem to have on speaker.
Activity #11: Wear flowy clothing
Activity #12: Take a walk on the beach at sunset
Activity #13: Put away your phone for an hour
Activity #14: Take a media fast
Activity #15: Reduce or eliminate your social schedule for a period of time
Activity #16: Unscheduled your life for a period of time
Activity #17: Calendar a change in scenery
Activity #18: Pray and meditate
Activity #19: Dwell in a inspirational and tidy environment
Activity #20: Massage
Low stimulation environments
Environments can really impact your stress response. In the balance of nature versus nurture, nurture can play a role in the expression of epigenetics or the repression of certain genes ability to be expressed. When we are in healing environments and taking care of our mental health and internal world, we are more likely to experience a decrease in stress.
That’s the goal!
So, what kinds of environments are the best?
Here is a short list of possibly low-stimulation environments:
- Around healthy relationships
- Around pets and friendly animals
- In nature such as the beach or forest
- In beautiful gardens
- In our home, curated to our liking
That last one is one point I want to address next. Often times, our number one retreat is our own home. It’s usually where we spend the most time and it is our place to unwind. Ideally, it is our own little oasis.
Many people have found that when they really focus on taking care of their little space in the world, deal with clutter and beautify it, they experience a sense of peace and calm.
The declutter trend
Many of you will be familiar with the decluttering trend so often found on YouTube and made popular largely because of Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method. If you’ve watched the Netflix series depicting the before and after declutter project, you will undoubtedly notice the peace and freedom felt by the participants once they owned their space again.
If you haven’t yet thought about creating a declutter aesthetic in your own home, when you have more energy, maybe think about what you want your space to look and feel like inside. However, the act of decluttering is NOT a low stimulation activity – at least it wasn’t for me. It was a lot of physical, mental and emotional work. Just keep it in mind or enlist the help of someone.
The minimalist movement
If you go down the rabbit hole and find another trend, the minimalist trend, you’ll find a range of environments that try to reduce physical artifacts to a need-only basis. Those who enjoy this type of lifestyle seem to enjoy the minimal amount of visual stimulation it entails, as well as the lack of things to clean, organize and make decisions about.
I personally appreciate the lack of clutter and decision making overload that can accompany a minimalist environment. Definitely non-stimulating.
The stoic movement
Here is also a place to include the stoic movement as a topic noteworthy in a post about non-stimulating activities. Why? I’ll be brief. The stoics value logical thinking and were low on emotional expression; in fact stoics prized themselves on emotional resilience during difficulties.
While this brief paragraph does not give justice to stoicism, my overall point is that sometimes, emotional restraint can help lower over-stimulation. A minimalist environment often pulls values from this stoic movement in an effort to better handle the difficulties life throws in the way.
Real life lessons learned
Overall, taking a step back from the busy humdrum of everyday life for a period of time or a substantial timeline will help your nervous system calm down and help your body deal with what is most pressing.
There are many activities that can promote a less stimulating response as well as environmental enhancements that can be made to improve quality of life.
If you are dealing with over stimulation and need a break, I hope these were helpful.
Please share which lower stimulating activities work the best for your situation in the comments!
Here is a resource for a hospital environment where low stimulation is called for in a very serious and urgent way. There are many takeaways that can be applied in alternative situations depending upon the severity of the issue. Always consult with your doctor for any questions related to your health, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. This site is not intended to replace those things.