Dialing In

There are times, and this very well may be one for you, where there are too many stimulating elements coming at us simultaneously. In these times, we need to perceive – look at – our brain like – on – the zoom focus on a camera, zooming in on one target at a time while ensuring that the target is specific, clear, and minor.

When our brain becomes flooded or overwhelmed, it slows down and becomes ineffective – A normal and natural survival response in a crisis. When this overwhelming flooding becomes negatively impactful to our psychological functioning (i.e. sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, time management, challenged relationships), we need to pivot rather than stay the same course.

When we feel overstimulated by compiling stressors, one tool that works for my clients is to increase focus by dialing in.

“The trickiest part of this is that this particular skill is exactly the one that grows more difficult in stress.”

The tool we needed to dial in: focus on one individual thing at a time – a frontal lobe function. The frontal lobe is precisely the part of the brain that goes offline when we are feeling increasing overwhelm, stress, or escalation. Here are a couple of skills we can use to bring ourselves back into focus: 


Bringing ourselves back into equilibrium and center by using mindfulness techniques to return to the present moment.

Body Scan

Checking each piece and part of our body, one by one, in an incremental fashion to assess where we are holding the overstimulation and stressors.

Dialing In

Targeting specific and clear points of focus and allowing all big picture, larger grand-sceme-of-things thinking to dissipate away for the moment.

Sensory Tools

Using taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight tools to re-align back to our bodies and the present moment.


When all else fails to dial in, use the breath as your specific target for a short period of time in order to prepare to use another tool.

These are challenging tools to use successfully, but they are imperative to staying focused when feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. We have to practice some or all of these tools at different times depending on our individual and varied needs.

  • Remember our brains are not built to dial in on their own, in fact, when left to their own devices they will not dial in until we go into psychological shock. We have to make this a practice.
  • Dialing in is a practice in focusing so that we can regain composure and prevent further escalation, but we need tools in order be successful.  This involves application.
  • Be real with yourself first so that you can know what you need and when you need it.
  • Dream, fantasize, and float, these are the antidotes to stressors about the present moment.

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