The Book of Self-Care by Mary Beth Jansen bills itself as a compendium of “remedies for healing mind, body and soul.” In her last chapter, “come back to your senses,” she discusses how you can utilize your five senses in your daily life to improve your overall well-being. You may hear therapists talk about the five senses of sound, touch, taste, smell and sight in sessions at times but do we actually utilize our five senses in a manner that can help relax and ground us in order to help us focus more on the moment and the joy we can find in brief times of life.
Sounds that are pleasant to us have been found to improve our immune system and endorphins. The energy from sound can soothe us while we are driving, dancing, listening to background music, playing music, hiking, swimming, etc. On the other hand, studies have shown that continued noise, and irritating sounds can contribute to high blood pressure, less productivity, and higher cholesterol which can lead to less communication, caring for others and feelings of hopelessness; so immerse yourself in sounds that are calming and energizing as needed in daily life.
Our largest body organ is our skin, which has 5 million touch receptors and 3,000 in one fingertip alone. When the skin is stroked there is a release of feel-good chemicals in the blood stream such as growth hormones, antidepressants, tranquilizers and pain relievers. Touch also opens the blood vessels and it also boosts the immune system. Massages or self-body massages used with organic oil before bedtime can help a person be more grounded and relaxed. Massage from head to toe.
How many times do we really slow down and savor the taste of our food or make a real effort to cook healthy food that will better nourish our bodies? Many of us can say we eat processed foods due to time constraints but we do not take the time to think about food or drinks that provide optimal nutrition and will also appeal to our five senses. When we are upset or rushed, we do not take the time to listen to our body when it tells us we have had enough food or how our body feels after we have eaten. Reminding ourselves to slow down while are eating and taking a walk afterwards can help our digestive system to function more efficiently. Lessening our intake of cold drinks with food can also help with digestive problems.
We all have been in an environment where the smell in the atmosphere has had an immediate change on our mood. Our nose has millions of scent receptors where electrical impulses are sent to the limbic area of the brain, which affects our emotions, memories, intuition, sexual response and also our nervous, hormonal and immune systems. Aromatherapy, various lotions, perfumes, etc., not only help our overall mood but some can relieve pain, cramps, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
With the blessing of sight, we see our world in pictures, and memories that are negative and positive. We tend to focus on the negatives of what we see in ourselves and others, so it’s important to remind ourselves to focus on not only the beauty in ourselves but in others as well. All of us have good and bad inner and outer traits and we forget to focus on the traits we love in each other and ourselves. Visualizations using the five senses each day can bring you to a calm place, taking a break from social media and the news can also reduce stress. Decluttering and cleaning your home and fresh flowers and plants with color can also bring joy.
Try to improve 2019 by little reminders each day to use your five senses and achieve mindfulness and well-being.