July 9, 2021

Destress and become more present using your senses!

Need to relax and unwind?

Lucky for us, we all possess the power to quickly and effectively relieve stress.

But how do we do it?  One simple and easy way is to use our FIVE senses.

By engaging our senses – sight, sound, taste, smell, touch – we can help ourselves to stay calm, focused, and positive on a daily basis.

Smell

Bring on the calming vibes with relaxing aromatherapy tools such as burning incense, lighting a scented candle or diffusing relaxing essential oils. The sense of smell is our oldest, and works in intriguing ways. For example, olfaction and memory are deeply intertwined.

Ever wonder why certain smells, like chocolate chip cookies, can transport you back to memories from childhood? Yet the sense of smell can also have a powerful influence on our moods. Consider a study in which participants inhaled the aroma of jasmine tea for five minutes, resulting in slower heart rates and calmer moods. The researchers point to the chemical linalool, one of the major components in jasmine tea, which can calm the autonomic nervous system.

There are many ways you can take advantage of soothing scents. Browsing a flower shop or spending time literally “smelling the roses” in a garden can brighten your mood. Likewise, simply stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air can provide instant stress relief.

Lavender, vanilla, bergamot, and a number of other scents have proven to reduce stress as well. You can get these through scented candles, aromatherapy diffusers with essential oils, or a variety of other products.

Sound

Take a break in a quiet area of your home and spend a few minutes listening to sounds that soothe you. Try the calming tones of singing bowls, which are excellent for meditative practice.

You might like to try music therapy.  It has recently become a recommended treatment for people with depression, anxiety, and stress.

Go for a walk outside and listen to the sounds of Nature.  Research has found that the relaxation your experience when in nature appears to be linked not just to the sights, but the sounds.

You might even try saying positive statements to yourself as a verbal form of self-encouragement. Some people have also found that playing a musical instrument or learning how to play one has helped them reduce their stress.  Singing or saying Mantras is another way to soothe yourself as the vibration stimulates your vagus nerve which then triggers your relaxation response.

Touch

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it is very sensitive to external stimulus. This makes it a powerful tool in your ability to relax, unwind, and find relief from the stress that you’re feeling.

Water is one of the ways that you can feel instant relief. That can come from soaking in a warm bath or going for a swim. Likewise, you can give your skin a warm touch by simply sitting in the warmth of the sun or changing into your most comfortable clothes.

Among other things, you might try taking a few minutes to stretch your muscles—possibly through a few simple yoga poses or tai chi movements—or getting a massage. Even taking a few minutes to play with and pet an animal can be amazingly beneficial to your mood.

Touching or feeling different textures can help provide stress relief.  This can include wrapping yourself in the softness of a cuddly blanket, hugging a tree or a cushion or taking a relaxing bath.

Best of all Hug someone. The act of hugging increases oxytocin, often described as the “bonding hormone.” It can also decrease cortisol and stress levels. One study found that women whose partners hug them more have comparatively higher levels of oxytocin and lower blood pressure and heart rates. No one to hug? Pet a dog. Research shows that it boosts oxytocin levels in both human and canine alike.

Sight

Are you a visual person?  Practice mindfulness by sitting with a salt lamp or item that inspires you.  Let the sights and colours immerse your senses, bringing a sense of calm and relaxation. We are are intensely visual creatures, and studies show that we respond to colours in differential ways. Take the colour green: It has been found to have soothing effects across various contexts. Similarly, cooler shades of blue and green, as well as neutral earth tones, have calming effects through their associations with nature. Keeping plants at home or at the office may promote more relaxation than is readily understood.

You might like to reflect on happy times or hopes and dreams, by flicking  through pictures of your loved ones or a past holidays that were filled with fun and joy. Of course, you can also daydream about places you want to visit. Look for things around you that make you smile and it’s likely the stress will dissipate.

Taste.

Savour the flavours that bring you a sense of calm and relief. While it’s best to try not to turn to food for comfort all the time, there is something to be said about its effects on mood. Many of us have learned that hunger can lead to irritability and this can impact stress levels as well.

Rather than turning to junk food to make yourself feel better try taking comfort in a relaxing sipping a cup of soothing herbal tea. You may also find ease in a comforting meal. Try to include healthy foods so you maintain a healthy body as well as a healthy mind.

Certain foods cause reactions in our bodies. In one study of chocolate, researchers found that eating it causes the brain to produce natural opiates, which dulls pain and boosts well-being. Yumo!

Why not make these strategies a practice in Mindfulness all you have to do is make sure to focus completely on the task at hand. That is, be mindful of your senses and what you are experiencing. Anytime you are distracted, simply bring your attention back to what you are doing.  Getting in touch with your senses is one of the quickest ways to come into the present moment.

You might like to come up with your own self-soothing strategies that you can do when you are upset. Try to list as many as you can. The more you have at your disposal, the better off you will be in improving your mood when you are experiencing distress.

Wishing you wellness.

Sara x