Tag Archives: Sensual OE

The Joy of Shared Intensity

shared intensity

Overexcitabilities run in families. That’s why I write so much about handling our OEs around our intense children. All that energy under one roof can be ‘interesting’.

But there’s an upside to living in an intense family, and as my children get older I’m starting to realise how wonderful that can be.

Have you ever tried explaining one of your passions to someone who doesn’t experience life as intensely as you? If you have, you don’t need me to tell you about The Blank Look.

Only people who share our intensity can understand the visceral feeling of excitement we get when we’re gripped by a passion – The drive to know everything there is to know about something. The way our bodies vibrate at a higher and higher frequency until we feel like we might explode, our consciousness transcending this realm and leaping forth into the far corners of the multiverse. (Or is that just me?)

That’s how I felt the first time I saw my husband. It wasn’t him that triggered my passion, though. It was the music we were dancing to. My friends had wanted to hang out in a bar whose music desiccated my soul, so I cut them loose and headed somewhere the music made my heart sing.

Relationships that start in nightclubs aren’t meant to last. But now I understand intensity I know why, nineteen years on, I’m still in love with the man I met that night. Our intensity is what brought each of us to that place, and it’s what’s kept us together.

The intensity my husband and I share is also what gave us our awesome children.

The trouble was that after they were born, I couldn’t listen to music.

Every album in my CD rack triggered feelings too intense for me to handle. I’d end up filled with melancholy remembering moments from my past, or so excited I needed to go out dancing now.

Not very useful when you have to cook fish fingers for a couple of pre-schoolers.

I couldn’t listen to new music either, because until I’m emotionally connected with the lyrics, music sound like noise to me. And with two high-needs kids, I couldn’t handle any more noise.

* * *

Then my daughter discovered music.

For her thirteenth birthday we took her to see her favourite band live, and her passion for music exploded.

She bought herself an electric guitar, writes songs with her bass-playing BF, and they jam with their drummer friend whenever they can. She’s on a mission to listen to every pop punk band from the 70s to date.  And then of course there are the fandoms.

In case you don’t know what a fandom is, here’s how my daughter explained it in a video she made (before her passion for music got started):

‘The joy of fandoms is the community. Everyone else is as crazy about this thing as you are. Fandoms are a great place to express yourself. You can find so many kindred spirits.  You can write or create art, or you can just enjoy  being with people who are like you, which is a wonderful thing. If you feel like it’s weird to be a crazy fangirl/fanboy – it’s not weird! There are loads of people like you!’

My daughter (then 11) ‘Fandom Addiction: Fandoms. They are not a problem!

(You can see the appeal of fandoms for young people with OEs, can’t you?)

* * *

Thanks to my passionate daughter, music’s returning to my life big time. It’s so much fun knowing someone else who listens to the same song twenty times in a row because one line of lyrics gives her goose bumps. Who ponders aloud why she always gets a dopamine rush during a certain Twenty One Pilots song. And who loves it when I turn up the car stereo so we can bask together in Brendon Urie’s mellifluous vocal range.

Music’s giving me something wonderful to share with my daughter. I love my intense family. 🙂

* * *

Do you share your passions with your children?

Does music transport you to intense extremes?

I’d love to hear from you!

* * *

Do you live in an intense family, too?  I’d love you to join me on my journey learning how to live life to the max while keeping our balance and helping our children find theirs. Just write your email address in the box below to receive my weekly posts direct to your inbox. You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.



Image: Public Domain Pictures

14 Delightful Ways to Use Sensual Overexcitability to Nourish Your Soul

autumn leaves - how to use sensual overexcitability

The modern world can be a stressful place for those of us with the intense sensitivity that sensual overexcitability brings.  We share a planet with more people and machines than ever before, and we spend less and less time in natural light.

On the other hand, those of us blessed with sensual OE can feel more intense pleasure in a single moment than our less sensitive friends might feel in a lifetime.

So let’s not take our gifts for granted. Let’s use our sensitivity by making time every day to enjoy simple pleasures that make our hearts sing!

14  Ways we can use sensory overexcitability to nourish our souls

Sensory experiences are deeply personal. Something that delights me could leave you cold or even trigger you, so I asked my lovely friends at the PowerWood Facebook group to help me with this list.

I hope you find something here that inspires you.

1. Light a fragrant candle

What is it about the stillness of a candle flame that gently calls us to the present moment and melts away the cares of the day?

Candles - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Skeeze

2. Stand at an open window at sunrise

What colour is the sky? How does the air feel against your skin? Can you hear the sweet chorus of birds celebrating a new day?

3. Luxuriate in a hot bath or shower

Space NK bath oils - how to use sensual overexcitability

A generous friend gifted me a set of these mini Space NK bath oils many years ago. I’ve used them to enhance bath times ever since.

4. Hug a tree

Find a big old tree and wrap your arms around its trunk, rest your cheek against its warm bark, and feel the power of its primordial energy flowing  through you.

I do this most days. I like to bring a little laughter into the days of my fellow dog-walkers!

5. Cuddle up with a pet

Girl cuddling kitten and dog - how to use sensual overexcitability

6. Absorb the power of the ocean

Sign A walk on the beach is good for the soul - how to use sensual overexcitability

Many of my sensitive friends mentioned the sea as a favourite source of sensory pleasure:

‘I love the sea in every single possible phase… I need its stillness. Its wildness. Its power…. there aren’t enough words really. It comforts me on a level that I can’t begin to explain, raw and deep.’

‘It deals with all the senses in calming and exhilarating ways.’

‘I love wild crashing waves.’

‘Smelling ozone.’

7. Massage your cares away

Give yourself a mini-aromatherapy massage by smoothing on some scented body lotion.

8. Nurture a garden

When my friend Hannah signed up for an allotment (community garden) to give her kids the benefit of growing and nurturing food from seed, she found benefits she hadn’t foreseen:

‘Being there resets my self… The combination of fresh, clean air, wide open skies, mud and pollen is a powerful and rejuvenating thing… it’s not just the seedlings that are nurtured and nourished.  It is us – as a family, as individuals.’

Flowers - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Hans

9. Indulge in the sensory pleasure of food

However much you enjoy cooking, when you have to provide nutritious family meals day after day, food can become more of a chore than a pleasure.

But If we’re mindful, food can be a wonderful source of sensory delight. It doesn’t have to be complicated – for me, the vibrant hues and fragrant aroma of freshly sliced watermelon are quite heavenly.

Watermelon - how to use sensual overexcitability
Photo by Condesign

If you also have emotional OE, you might find inspiration in The Emotional Cook recipe book.

What food nourishes your soul?

10. Hug someone you love

11. Get comfy

Slip out of all those buttoned and zipped-up day clothes and pull on your pjs. Even if it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

12. Play your favourite music (loudly)

One PowerWood friend loves ‘listening to classical music … strings …  in the car while driving in the dark.’

Another said, ‘I love music. Especially in the car. Something euphoric with a strong baseline… Loud.’

I’ve found myself driving round the block a few times at the end of a long car journey, just to hear another song or two!

13. Brew a cup of fragrant tea

In a teapot if you have one. Or treat yourself to a proper cup of coffee and bask in its rich aroma before each sip.

‘I let the tea seep as I dream and breathe. Each sip is a celebration of health, vitality, and serenity. I am quiet with myself. I have faith in Being.’

Christine Ford

14. Feast your eyes on fine art

If you can’t make it to a gallery, explore online using an app like Art HD.

Claude Monet Jardin à Sainte Adresse - how to use sensual overexcitability

Do you have sensual overexcitability?

How do you nourish your soul?

Leave me a comment and I’ll add your favourite sensory experiences to this list. ❤️


What is sensual overexcitability?

PowerWood Facebook Group (a place to share ideas, information and encouragement about intensity, super-sensitivity and hyper-reactivity (OEs))

4 Self-care habits every woman must embrace (blog post)

My senses, my gifts (blog post)

The art appreciation blog

Art HD (art gallery app)

* * *

For more ideas about how to use your sensitivities and intensity to nourish your soul, see my other posts in this series:

How to use emotional overexcitability to nourish your soul.

6 Eclectic ways to use imaginational overexcitability to nourish your soul

How to use intellectual overexcitability to nourish your soul (coming soon)

How to use psychomotor overexcitability to nourish your soul (coming soon)

To receive my regular posts about how to enjoy family life with intensity and sensitivity, leave your email address in the Follow by Email box at the top of the page. ? You can also like the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page.


What is Sensual Overexcitability?

Sensual overexcitability

Does your child hate the feel of labels on her clothes? Is he picky about what socks he’ll wear, or the texture of foods? Does she find certain noises excruciating?

If so, or if he’s more sensitive than most children to other types of sensory input, he might have sensual overexcitabilies.

Sensual overexcitability means you experience sounds, sights, touch, smell and/or tastes in a heightened way. You might intensely enjoy or even crave certain sensory experiences, while other forms of sensory stimulation make you feel stressed, angry or upset.

In this post I’ll share some examples of how sensual OE looks in my family. I’ll also consider whether or not it matters that we identify the underlying cause of the sensitivity.

1. Touch

People with sensual OE are often very sensitive to the feel of fabrics. They might spend ten minutes lining up their socks so that the seams don’t rub (and choose to go bare-footed as often as possible).

A woollen jumper can feel like a hair shirt. Women might need to wear a bra size too big in the back, because tight or constricting clothes are intolerable. My poor husband jokes that he only gets to see me dressed at weekends, but that’s not as exciting as it sounds – I’m always in my pyjamas (oh so comfy!) by the time he gets home from work at 7:00pm.

When it comes to temperature, layers are a sensitive person’s best friend. Right now I’m sitting on a train with my shoes off, pulling my cardigan on and off again as the train’s heating blasts out and a cold draft whips through the train whenever the doors open. Before I knew about sensual OE I would marvel at the willpower of people who could leave their coats buttoned up on in a hot, crowded underground train.  Now I know they just don’t experience temperature in the same way I do.

Other tactile experiences can feel really good. When he’s upset, my ten-year-old curls up with our dogs or cat, letting the feel of their soft fur instantly calm him. Some children with sensual OEs stay attached to their soft toys or blankets until long after their peers have outgrown them. Cuddles and hugs can feel heavenly.

Some kids with sensual OEs crave the feel of things in their mouths. My son has a drawerful of chewable toys, but I still find his desk littered with bits of half-chewed plastic (I’m usually glad that at least he’s not sucking on his T-shirt).  Chewing gum makes a visit to the hairdressers a whole lot more bearable.  I think the cupfuls of ice my kids munch through every day might also have something to do with their sensual OEs.

And you know those deep baskets in Starbucks, filled with bags of coffee nestled among springy shredded paper? No? I’d never noticed them either, until I set out to solve the mystery of the soggy piles of paper I kept finding in my washing machine. It turned out that while I was ordering my Americanos, Jasper had taken to filling his pockets with the springy stuff, ready to crinkle deliciously to his heart’s content. 😀

2. Sounds

I’m personally affected by this one to such a degree that I can’t imagine living in a world where the everyday sounds of modern life wash over you unnoticed.

When I’m trying to focus, I find noises at best distracting and at worst extremely stressful. My solution is to carry ear plugs, earphones and a white noise app wherever I go. Ahh the bliss of instant peace!

In restaurants I try to sit next to a wall so I can focus on my companions, protected from the cacophony of clanging crockery and other diners’ conversations.

On a more positive note, nothing begins my day better than standing at my bedroom window and listening to the birdsong for a few minutes. At concerts, I can experience an intense high as the energy of the music flows through my body.

People with this OE also commonly experience misophonia – an intense dislike of certain sounds (for example people eating, cutlery scraping on plates, or what my daughter describes as ’the sound of fingernails running down a school blazer’).

3. Sights

A person with sensual OEs might be intensely moved by a colourful sunset, a beautiful view or the sight of a raindrop glistening on a petal.

Sensually OE people can also be distracted or stressed by repetitive movements in their field of vision.

4. Tastes and smells

Kids with sensual OE can be sensitive to the tastes and textures of food, which can require their parents to be extremely resourceful when it comes to ensuring a balanced diet.

Smells often also trigger extreme reactions. My daughter, for instance, can’t step foot in a fast-food restaurant. I know of other children whose full-on flight or fight response kicks in when smells are too strong for them or who plead with their parents to “turn the smell off!”

The positive side of sensual OE is that pleasant tastes and aromas can be enjoyed intensely. My kids love theme parks, but when we spent two weeks in Disneyworld a few years ago Jasper’s holiday journal was filled with descriptions and pictures not of the rides, but of hot dogs and ice cream!

Sensual Overexcitability

Sensual overexcitability, sensory processing disorder, highly sensitive or autism?

All these sensitivities might be the only non-average aspect of a person’s make-up, or they might form part of a bigger picture. Do we need to know their underlying cause, or is it enough to manage the ‘symptoms’? In my experience it’s helpful to do both.

First of all, a child with sensory issues needs help learning strategies to manage his sensitivities. If I’m on a train and the person next to me starts noisily eating an apple, I can change seats or block out the noise with headphones. Kids have much less control over their environments. We don’t need to know the underlying cause of a child’s sensitivity to compassionately address their needs and start to teach them coping skills.

On the other hand, dealing with sensory sensitivity in isolation can lead to an inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis, which could obscure the bigger picture and delay the child receiving help with other issues they might be facing.

I remember the relief my husband and I felt when we were told that our seven-year old had sensory processing disorder. We thought the diagnosis meant our son would get the right sort of help. But we felt more lost than ever when, after a year of occupational therapy, there was no change in his behaviour.  It wasn’t until we finally looked at what was going on in the light of Jasper’s other overexcitabilities [intellectual, psychomotor and imaginational] that we were able to make sense of the whole picture and start to deal with all his needs.

In the UK especially, some children with sensory issues are incorrectly diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. These kids’ parents might know the label is an awkward fit, but in the absence of an alternative explanation they don’t know where to turn. My intention in creating this blog is to help share information about those other possibilities. I don’t claim to be an expert, but it’s no understatement to say that my life was transformed by the PowerWood OE workshop I went to last year – finally all the pieces of the puzzle came together and we were able to move forward.

If you suspect that you or someone in your family has overexcitabiliites, you can find out by taking this free online OE questionnaire.

Sensual OE – Further Resources


Jade Ann Rivera – How to identify and cope with overexcitabilities, part 5 of 5: Sensual overexcitability

PowerWood – Sensual OE

My Little Poppies – Sensory STUFF (Overexcitabilities, intensities, SPD, ADHD, anxiety, behaviour… call it what you will)


Living with Intensity, Daniels and Piechowski

* * *

How does sensual overexcitability look in your family? Perhaps you’ll share the example that will help another person solve the puzzle of what’s going on with herself or her child.

This is part 2 of my series on the five types of overexcitability.  After I’ve finished writing the series I’ll be sharing some of the strategies that have helped us as a family dealing with OEs. I hope you’ll join me on my journey.

Sensual overexcitability



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...