Case Study: Managing My Hyperarousal with Binaural Beats

Jennifer has suffered from hyperarousal since childhood. In this post she shares her experiences and explains how she's managed the condition using a combination of natural means. 

Since I was a kid I struggled with an overactive mind, which might not seem uncommon, but it becomes a problem when the brain simply won't slow down – sometimes for days at a time.

This leaves you restless, sleepless and unable to feel relaxed in any given situation. The medical definition for hyperarousal is as follows:

A state of increased psychological and physiological tension marked by such effects as reduced pain tolerance, anxiety, exaggeration of startle responses, insomnia, fatigue, and accentuation of personality traits.

I wouldn't say I suffered anxiety in my childhood, but I always remember being put to bed and laying there for ages feeling fatigues yet restless as my mind explored valleys of every aspect of my life. 

As I got older I noticed that my excitement was accentuated. I would talk to myself lots and shriek and make noises, as a way to release the excess mind energy. I continued to struggle to shut my mind down when it was time to relax and rest. 

At this point I should note that I did not struggle with attention, only when reading. However, I have since trained myself to read. I was always able to interact socially and give my full attention to tasks. What I struggled to do, however, was let go of the task or situation once it had passed.  

When I became excited about a project, a sports match, new relationship or opportunity, I would go into fight or flight mode, and stay there with excitement surrounding the situation swimming around in my mind non-stop

This was a particular problem when the situation involved a degree of nervousness, such as a job interview or exam. This would add to my state and I'd become anxious and excited all at once, playing out possible outcomes in my mind and thinking constantly at one hundred miles per hour about the impending circumstance. 

This hindered my ability to perform well on the day of a big event, because much of my energy and brain power had been zapped by hyperarousal in the build up. I remember two particular events: the first an entry exam, and the second a job interview.

The exam was not at all difficult, and I was expected to do quite well. I had been tutored for the exam and studied well. But on the day I could barely answer anything. I became confused and my brain wouldn't function. I just kept repeating the questions in my mind and jumping from one to the next. I knew I'd failed horribly.

The job interview was set up by my father with a friend of his at a big company. It was a great opportunity, and I was keen to represent my father's intelligence, ability and integrity. I failed.

I'd worked myself into such a state in prior days that I'd hardly slept at all. I'd acted out mental scenarios a million times and by the time the interview came around the situation was a blur of fatigue and anxiety. I heard nothing from the company. My father never said anything. But in my mind I knew that the guy had told my father that I wasn't cut out for the industry. I probably wasn't, but I never got to make that choice because I was unable to perform to my full potential. 

One way I've learnt to manage with hyperarousal as I've gotten older is sport.  Working out and engaging in any form of physical exercise is always a temporary saviour in helping me expel some of the energy and eventually come down from the hyperarousal. I also try to  avoid stressful environments and mental stimulation in the evening, both of which help me to relax. 

But to properly manage my hyperarousal I had to learn ways to control my mind. To do this I practice mindfulness (meditation) through teachers such as Alfred James and Jon Kabat Zinn. Mindfulness is the art of simply being in the here and now, something I previously found impossible to do. I also use brainwave entrainment, which has taught me a lot about how the brain works:

I discovered that there were life triggers that pushed me into Beta mode (high-level awareness), where I'd get stuck. Other people were able to come down into Alpha and Theta for relaxation, but I seemed to stay in the fight or flight zone, which unbalanced my mind and prevented clear seeing.

This affected my ability to be calm and balanced. I felt on edge, like I had to be doing something all the time. I would throw myself into new hobbies and projects, full speed ahead, in anticipation of the outcome. This made me impatient with myself, but surprisingly not with others. I always had this feeling I wasn't doing enough and, when I wanted to rest, my brain was still stuck in this fight or flight mode.

I have since trained myself to be as present as possible, letting go of past and possible future situations in order to relax in the present. To encourage this mindset I use Ennora binaural beats, particularly in the evening to help release my mind from the day and fall into deep relaxation. 

I regularly use Chakra Balance, Perfect Sleep and Crystal Clear Mind. And  because I suffer hyperarousal I can get away with using Delta frequencies in the daytime too, but I wouldn't recommend this to the average person, as you're likely to become very tired.

Although I still have my moments, and a few times a year I have 2-3 days where I am "on a Beta trip", as I like to call it, I am proud to say that I am currently managing my condition without medication. And that feels really good. 

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