Sensory Triggers: What are they and can I avoid them? - Touchy Feely

Sensory Triggers: What are they and can I avoid them?

Sensory triggers are specific stimuli or events that can provoke a strong or adverse reaction in people with sensory sensitivities. These triggers can lead to discomfort, stress, anxiety, or sensory overload. 

Sensory sensitivities and triggers exist on a spectrum. What might be a trigger for you may not affect another person in the same way. You may have sensitivities in multiple sensory domains, or in just one or two areas.

Understanding these triggers and managing them appropriately can help you live a more comfortable life.

Here at Touchy Feely, we're excited to help you find ways to manage triggers—and even eliminate them. 

Some common sensory triggers for individuals with sensory sensitivities include:

Loud Noises (Auditory Triggers)

Sudden or loud sounds like sirens, alarms, or loud music can be overwhelming.

Tools that help

  • Noise-cancelling headphones {link}
  • Sound-reducing sensory hoodie {link}
  • Sound machine {link}
  • Brown Noise {link}

Bright or Artificial Lights (Visual Triggers)

Intense or flickering lights, such as fluorescent lighting or bright sunlight, can be distressing. Lack of natural light, especially in winter months can contribute to seasonal depression. 

Tools that help

  • Eye masks {link}
  • Blackout curtains {link}
  • Therapy lamps for seasonal depression {link}

Visual Patterns (Visual Triggers)

Complex or rapidly moving visual patterns, like busy wallpaper or fast-paced video games, can be overwhelming.

Strong Smells (Olfactory Triggers)

Powerful or unusual odors, like perfumes, cleaning products, or certain foods, can be bothersome.

Tools that help

  • Odor-removers
  • Unscented skin care 
  • Unscented cleaning supplies

Texture & Touch Sensitivities (Tactile Triggers)

Some individuals may be sensitive to physical touch, including hugs, handshakes, or certain fabrics. Uncomfortable textures on clothing, bedding, or surfaces can trigger discomfort or anxiety.

People with tactile sensitivities may also enjoy pressurized touch in the form of weighed blankets and pillows, stuffed animals, and compression-wear. 

Tools that help

  • Seamless and tag-less apparel
  • Compression clothing
  • Weighted bedding
  • Sensory hoodies 
  • Compression clothing
  • Elastic pants that prevent bunching
  • Weighted pillows, blankets and clothing 
  • Adaptive Rain Gear {Link}
  • Wrist Towel Bands {Link}
  • Personal care products that help you skip the shower

Crowded Spaces (Overwhelm)

Being in crowded places with lots of people, such as malls or busy streets, can lead to sensory overload.

Tools that help

  • Sensory Hoodies 
  • Noise-cancelling headphones 
  • Aroma inhalers

Temperature Extremes

Drastic temperature changes, such as extreme heat or cold, can be challenging to tolerate.

Tools that help

Taste & Texture Sensitivities (Gustation Sensitivities)

Certain tastes, food textures, or food temperatures may be aversive or overwhelming. Many neurodivergent people, particularly those with autism, stick to a set of 'safe foods' that do not trigger disgust or overwhelm. 

Tools that help

Vibrations, Motion, and Balance (Proprioception Triggers)

Sensitivity to vibrations, such as from machinery or vehicles, can be triggering.

Tools that help

Internal and Body Sensations (Interoceptive Triggers)

Some people may feel their bodily sensations, such as digestion, very intensely. Interoception hypersensitivity can lead to anxiety and distress, and can be distraction for individuals who are unable to filter out the sensory information coming from their bodies. 

Looking for ways to avoid or cope with sensory triggers? Subscribe to our free newsletter and get vetted tips each week!


Disclaimer: Touchy Feely does not provide any form of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this company or brand is not intended as a replacement for medical or mental health advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your physical or mental health.

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