41% of people avoid crowds. Are you one?

Are you the kind of person who likes to spend time alone?
Or do you crave to be around people for the most part of your day?

We all have different sensory thresholds – some high, some low. This means that we can take more, or less sensory input before becoming drained, irritable or feeling stressed. We are bombarded by sensory input wherever we go – especially visual and auditory input. So how do we cope?

Our bodies elicit a stress response when the brain has reached its limit of processing sensory input. We go into fight, fright or flight mode and we lose contentment, peace of mind, the ability to focus, digestive comfort and our mood changes too. This is no fun place to be, and so most of us would prefer to avoid a situation that might set this reaction and change in behaviour off.

For many people, being in a crowded place – be it a shopping mall, an expo, a music concert or a festival – is a daunting thought. For many people this is possibly the most stressful scenario to be in.  Almost every sense is used, overused and exhausted in these kinds of places. Imagine it:

  • people wearing colourful clothes, posters with images, movies and text (visual);
  • people talking amongst themselves, music blaring, different sounds coming from all corners (auditory);
  • the many different smells of people’s shampoo, perfumes and body odour, as well as, of the different food or drink in the vicinity (smell/taste);
  • the invasion of personal space, people brushing passed or bumping into you, or feeling others breathing over you (tactile).

There are people who would manage just fine in this scenario – those with high thresholds in these areas. They would enjoy the mania of sensory input and be energised by it. Then there are others with high thresholds who don’t necessarily even notice that so much is going on. Their brains manage to filter out most of the information and they just carry on as though they’re anywhere else.

But, there are those who do not cope and leave crowded places feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Their brain is in high alert and they are likely quite defensive, argumentative or just plain tired after such an event. These are people with low thresholds who have a sensitive response to this type of input. The brain quickly learns that crowded places are dangerous; a threat to our happiness and contentment.

When you discover that this could be the reasons behind your behaviour and your preference to avoid crowds, you no longer judge yourself as “strange” or “anti-social”. Increasing self-awareness on this level, with an understanding of the biology behind your preferences and learning new strategies for managing your responses, is truly freeing.  It brings perspective to your life; the choices you have made and will make and how you have become who you are.

Isn’t it time you find out what your senses are trying to tell you?

  1. If you would like to learn more about your own sensory assessment, do our short FREE Sensory Quiz™.
  2. For a comprehensive 25-page report with tips and strategies on how to reduce stress and live a productive, healthy and happy life visit Sensory Matrix™.
  3. Once you’ve done the e-assess and would like a one-on-one coaching session, we can put you in touch with one of our licensed practitioners.
  4. For team-building with a difference, get your whole team to do the e-assessment – you can contact us here.

Searching for your perfect match

During a recent visit with a single, forty-something friend of mine, the following question came up during our discussions (as I knew it would… as it always does…): “When you met your future husband, did he meet all your preconceived requirements for a perfect life partner?” Of course, I tried to steer the discussion in a different direction, evading the aforementioned question. Our talk veered off to more philosophical topics, resulting in an ample amount of introspection and self-discovery.

On my way home that afternoon, my friend’s question got me thinking about searching for “Mr. Right”. After careful consideration, I realized that it is of utmost importance to first know yourself well enough before searching for your life partner. It is crucial to know what your own preferences and pet peeves are, how you cope with stressful situations, what makes you tick, which environments you enjoy most, which qualities in others you struggle with and/or admire… the list is endless.

Our behaviour is often the result of our reaction to situations, environments and sensory input that needs to be processed by our brains. Processing of sensory information happens on a primitive, neurological level; it is not a conscious decision on how we’ll react to sensory stimuli but rather a subconscious one… it just happens.

Every person is unique in the way they process this information and therefore no two persons’ reactions will be identical in a given situation.

In general, people react in one of three ways:

  • People with a low threshold can easily be over-stimulated by sensory stimuli
  • People with a medium threshold are not severely influenced by sensory stimuli
  • People with a high threshold need extra sensory input

Because of these varying sensory styles, we all prefer different types and amounts of input:

  • Low thresholds prefer predictable input
  • Medium thresholds are not severely influenced by sensory input
  • High thresholds prefer adventurous input

… and different environments:

  • Low thresholds prefer calmer environments
  • Medium thresholds cope well with most environments
  • High thresholds prefer more stimulating environments

So, coming back to my friend’s question, I’d have to be honest and say that finding my perfect life partner started with me figuring myself out first.

If you would like to learn more about your own sensory assessment, do our FREE Sensory Quiz™ and get a quick overview of your sensory thresholds.  For a comprehensive 26-page report, do your Sensory Matrix™.