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How to Use Your Senses to De-Stress

Updated on March 13, 2016

One of the easiest ways to decrease stress is to indulge your brain by focusing on one of your senses. Senses have a powerful effect on our mind and body, and they can allow us to refocus stressful thoughts into simple thoughts instead. This activity will in turn help your body relax. Here are a few tips (Segal, Smith, and Robinson, 2012) to reduce stress quickly by using your senses:

  1. Sights. The moment you feel stress creeping up on you, you should get up and go outside. If you have a deck, go sit out and stare into the sky for a few moments. You can also go check your mail to give you a couple of minutes to look at the nature that surrounds you. This works really well if you don’t have a lot of time to spend outside in general. In addition, simply going for a drive and running a couple of errands can also give your eyes something new to look at. When you’re stressed out, this can be a necessary and welcome distraction.
  2. Sound. While listening to your favorite song can lighten your mood, you might find that certain nature sounds such as running water or birds chirping in the background help you relax more. You can purchase a nature sound cd at your local electronic store, or you can buy individual songs that suit your unique tastes. Some people may love listening to classical music while others may only like the sound of one instrument such as the violin. Experiment and dabble into different types of sounds.
  3. Smell. While you may already have breathing experiences you practice to reduce stress, you can also make an addition to your routine by giving your mind something to smell when you breathe in. This can include anything such as coffee beans, your favorite perfume splashed on your wrist, or even a small box of peppermint candies. Additionally, some stores sell pillow mists infused with invigorating and relaxing scents, like lavender and chamomile, which you can spray on your pillow at night to help keep you calmer. Other places, such as natural foods stores, also have a whole host of aromatherapy scents you can breathe in when you’re feeling tense.
  4. Touch. Touch something that has a significant meaning for you or anything that has an interesting texture. You can pick up a cherished stuff toy, a soft blanket, touch a rose petal, or run your hands under water. This technique works well to help distract your mind when you’re feeling your body tighten with tension.
  5. Taste. When you feel stress consuming you, feel free to reach out for a small yet healthy snack. You can eat a small piece of dark chocolate or munch on a piece of fruit or vegetable. You can also make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. The act of holding and drinking a hot drink can be quite soothing.

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