Too Much External Stimulation

I don’t remember where I heard about this, but I subscribe to a free (yes, it’s absolutely free) newsletter called Introvert Insights. It’s published monthly by Peter Vogt, who lives in Moorhead, Minnesota.

If you go here, you can read past issues as well as sign up to receive the paper version that comes in the mail. Wow, something I can hold and read!! Am I showing my age?

I’m bringing this up because the latest issue included an article about external stimulation. It points out that this stimulation is more than just people related. It reminded me of one of my previous posts – Information Overload.

Too much information?

The author Peter used his newspaper subscriptions as an example. I immediately thought of my magazine subscriptions. I don’t have that many; I know I’ve had more in the past. But they pile up. I think I’m going to catch up, but recently I ended up throwing a bunch of past issues away without ever reading them.

It was amazing how that cleared my head. And I’ve already decided I won’t renew a couple of them when it’s time.

According to his article and research conducted by Hans Eysenck decades ago, introverts have a higher arousal level than extroverts. Therefore, it doesn’t take much external stimulation to affect us.

The effects of external stimulation

How might it affect you? Anger and irritability, impatience and anxiety, maybe even resentment. You can feel physically and emotionally spent. Those of you who experience this understand, but many people don’t. And maybe it’s not even true for all introverts. After all, we each have our own tolerance levels.

There is some external stimulation you can do nothing about, like traffic. Well, maybe that means you avoid those times when you know traffic will be high. But there are external stimulants you can control.

Does clutter make you crazy? Clean it up. Just like my piles of magazines, getting rid of clutter can take a weight off your shoulders you didn’t even realize was there. The only place I allow clutter is in my studio. And even there, I will reach a point where I can’t do any more until I put things where they belong.

Vogt refers to these things as the “weeds in your life”. As you find them, pull them. Easier said than done.

Things we don’t think about

He even mentioned an external stimulant that was affecting his wife who’s a kindergarten teacher. No, not the kids, but I’m sure that’s one of them!! It’s the fluorescent lights in her classroom. To help, she’s started using only half of them.

Makes me wonder if this is why I prefer lamps instead of overhead lights.

Despite recognizing my information overload problem, I can’t say I’ve done much to pull the weeds and alleviate it. At least not consciously. Whether it was planned or not, I find I’m spending less time on Facebook and Instagram.

All the posting and the liking can become tedious. Obviously, that’s just me because there are people posting more than once a day, primarily those in my stitching communities. I’m more particular now about what I “like”. And I don’t post daily progress on my projects as some do. Does anyone really care?

But I still worry I might be missing something. I’d probably save money, however, as I seem to “find” things I can’t live without. You should see the size of my wishlist on!!!

What else?

If I think hard enough, I’m sure I can recognize other sources of stimulation. Do I need rainy days because too much sun affects me? Is it why I don’t like being outside when it’s windy? Even though I have a bad ear, why does loud music or TV bother me?

Is there something I don’t realize that’s affecting my sleep? Am I trying to do too many different types of projects? Too much multi-tasking or more accurately, multi-thinking??

What about you? Introvert or extrovert, do you feel the effects of too much external stimulation? How does it affect you? And what do you do about it?

Knit-along update

OK, I know this has nothing to be with external stimulation. Hmm, maybe it does? Anyway, I gave you a glimpse last week of week one’s progress. I’m getting ready to start on week three today, so I thought I’d show you how it looks after week two. Oh, and I called it a shawl when it’s technically a poncho.

Starting to see the Hawkeye black and gold

Note to self: don’t start a new section while watching tennis. The pattern isn’t hard at all, but I made so many mistakes and ripped out so much stitching. Arrrggg!! There’s one little but very obvious mistake that I didn’t fix and I’m choosing to call it my signature stitch. Yea, right!!

Today, I’m actually going to the shop for the tailgating. I have my dip ready to go. It will be fun to see what others are doing. I have no idea how many people will be there. A new adventure!! I’ll probably share my experience with you later. 🧶🧶🧶

6 thoughts on “Too Much External Stimulation”

  1. My wife and I both introverted, though I can don the charm persona when necessary for social situations. She can’t and usually has anticipatory anxiety prior to most public engagements. Left to our own devices, however, we both prefer the quiet and solitude. I used to think that opposites were better suited to one another, but I no longer think so.

    1. Tim and I are also both introverts. Sometimes I wonder if we’re boring but we seem to enjoy our quiet evenings together. I’m more like your wife when it comes to social situations. I enjoy my talkative friends because then I can relax and mostly listen!! I agree with the opposites thing. Our life together is better because we appreciate the way we are.

  2. I’m an introvert as well. Hubby is as well. I wish he’d recognize that clutter is external stimulation and reduce his! I have learned that his philosophy is “every horizontal surface is designed to be piled upon”. He keeps all sorts of things and his piles are all random as well… he can never find things. Ack! I plan gatherings in our home to get him to clean up things… he’ll put everything in a box and move it to his office, piled on top of the last box. It’s a disaster…but I close the door and ignore it.

    When I was working, external stimulation was constant and I could never get away from it. Now I notice when I have too many days of high stimulation and can look forward to a quiet at home day!

    1. I never realized how much working drained me. There are so many things about working that zap the energy of an introvert. I was exhausted by Thursday every week. We had no meeting Fridays which I worked hard to stick to and I loved those days. Helped me recover from the week which I needed. Now I can mostly control that external stimulation so my life is so much better. Retirement is the best!!

  3. I notice a drop in energy when I am receiving too much stimulation in the form of people, meaning some alone time is in order. Also with clutter, although I never related that to being an introvert. I definitely feel “lighter” when things are tidy and I have less stuff laying around and bothering my brain. I also hate overhead lights and have brought lamps from home into work so I don’t have to turn them on (except for truly dull days).
    Thanks for this post!


    1. I think it’s hard to know if we’re affected by certain stimuli because we’re introverts but the more I learn about it, the more I understand things about myself. I also realize it’s not that simple and many things are just who we are and not always due to introversion. Thanks Deb!!

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