Self-Soothing Using the five Senses
Updated: Mar 19, 2021
Welcome to Savyn’s new blog post series where we will dive deeper into how you can use your five senses to relieve stress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could develop in some people who have lived through traumatic experiences. First and foremost, it is important to recognize the symptoms if you are going through this, a few being flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety. Once you do that, it is even more important that you reach out to a professional and are prepared the next time these symptoms occur.
There are a myriad of symptoms that come with PTSD, one of the main ones being stress. Certain things may serve as triggers depending on what that person has gone through and can potentially induce any of the symptoms mentioned previously.
It could be scary and overwhelming when unexpected symptoms occur and one doesn’t have instant support that’s available. However, there are ways to cope with them right at your fingertips.
Use sense of Touch to relieve stress
When babies wake up in the middle of the night, alone in their crib, they often reach out in search of their parents or something to hold onto by using their sense of touch. This method can be used by adults as well, which is called a grounding technique. Grounding techniques bring you back into the present moment.
In moments of stress, with your mind racing and your body responding with a physical reaction, there are a few simple things to do to ground yourself by using the sense of touch.
1. Use water- take a warm bath; let cool water run over your hands; put a wet washcloth on your forehead or change into your most comfortable clothes.
2. Exercise- get up and stretch out your muscles; do yoga to strengthen your body and mind; work out or get a massage to ease your tension.
3. Shift your focus- keep a grounding object in your pocket to feel in times of panic or focus on five things that you can feel (i.e., feel the cool air on your face, the collar of your shirt at the back of your neck, run your hands through your pet's fur, notice your feet on the floor or your hair on your face.)
Use sense of Sight to relieve stress
Did you know that you can also rely on the sense of sight to relieve stress and calm anxiety? Here are some tips to help you find peace and stay present by using this sense.
1. Reflect- go through photos of your happy memories; read books that interest you; learn to paint and focus on the colours, textures and shapes.
2. Entertain - Watch a funny movie or tv show, daydream about places you want to visit and write it down in detail; or simply watch the clouds pass by
3. Distract your mind- look around and focus on five things you can see; look down at your hands or toes and count them one by one; take a break and look out your window, what do you see? Trees, clouds, or lights from the building across the street?
Use sense of Hearing to relieve stress
If you are not much of a visual person, we have something else for you. Besides sight and touch, the sense of hearing can also help calm our racing minds and bodies:
1. Name 3 things you can hear around you - focus on the sounds your mind has tuned out, ticking clock, distant traffic, or trees blowing in the wind.
2. Listen - listen to your favourite music, podcast, audiobooks; play a musical instrument, learn how to play one or sing a song to yourself.
3. Meditate with sound - listen to a guided breathing exercise and pay attention to your senses and how your body reacts. Savyn provides our users with multilingual breathing exercises in English, Arabic and Mandarin. You can find them via the link in bio.
Use sense of Smell to relieve stress
Your sense of smell is constantly functioning when you breathe in and out, but did you know that you can zone in on this sense to ease stress?
The use of aromatherapy is proven to help improve your mood and lessen anxiety. This is only one of the many ways to use your sense of smell to ease stress.
1. Create - cook a fragrant meal in your kitchen; bake some goods that make your kitchen smell amazing (banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, vanilla cake); make a cup of coffee and focus on the rich scent of the coffee beans
2. Relax - use a diffuser with a calming scent (i.e., lavender, chamomile, bergamot); keep fresh flowers in a vase close to you and smell them when you feel stressed
3. Use your favourite things- smell the perfume you use the most; open your window and take in the scent of fresh air; light your favourite candle and let the scent calm you
Use sense of Taste to relieve stress
Whether you are eating your favourite meal or drinking your daily cup of herbal tea, there are many ways to use your sense of touch to ease any feelings of tension.
1. Healthy foods - Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables from your local markets; cook a healthy meal and savour the flavour; bake some delicious treats to satisfy your taste buds
2. Hydrate - Don’t wait till you’re thirsty to drink;; if plain water tastes boring to you, flavor the water replenish your energy; eat water-rich fruits and vegetables
3. Surprise - have a teaspoon of lemon juice to surprise your sense; suck on a sour candy to distract yourself; bite into a green apple (or something you wouldn’t eat on a regular basis), hear the crunch as you bite and describe the flavours you taste
It may take some time before the techniques work well for you, but don’t give up on them. Try to list self-soothing strategies that work for you, and keep them at your disposal to improve mood when experiencing distress.
Remember that your feelings are valid and it is okay to reach out for help if you need it.
To learn more about PTSD and what we do here at Savyn, sign up here.