I get it. When you think of self-care, you might be thinking that you need to go to an elaborate effort of spending hours that you don’t have doing indulgent self-care rituals. Or spending ridiculous amounts of money that you really wish you had to buy that thing that you’ve always wanted. You understand that self-care has so many benefits to your physical and mental health because I told you about it here. Now you’re thinking ‘how the hell can I start doing it without taking up all my time or breaking the bank?’ Fortunately, self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or require that much effort.
In this post I’m going to tell you five simple self-care strategies that you can use as soon as you’ve finished reading this blog post and grabbing your freebie. It’s as easy as using own body’s hardware; your sense of smell, sight, sound, touch and taste. The great thing is you can start using your senses as a way to bring self-care into your routine from as little as 30 seconds a day.
Pay Attention to your Senses through Mindfulness
What I mean by using your own body’s hardware as a way to bring self-care into your routine is simply paying attention to what you can smell, see, hear, touch and taste. It’s about being attuned to and being aware of the sensations of the things that are around you in the present moment. It’s a little technique people like to call mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a mental state that is achieved by focusing your awareness on what is happening in the present moment, the right here, right now moment and accepting it without judgement. Its a technique that is helpful to letting go of any worries or negative thoughts that you may have. Using your senses as a way to practice mindfulness, meet your own needs and participate self-care is a powerful technique that can make you feel naturally energised and recharged.
Have you ever decided to sit down and its quiet (rare I know!) and you quickly feel the urge to do something and check your social media feed ‘just because’? Or you’re constantly thinking about what you need to do next? We spend an awful amount of time constantly thinking. We waste so much time getting caught up in our thoughts about what happened in the past, what might happen in the future, whether we’ve done everything that we needed to do or what we need to do next.
The way that we live in the modern world doesn’t help. It’s full of technology that is designed to ‘make our lives better and more efficient’ yet its making us forget our natural, build in feel good and calm producing remedies that we have in our bodies. We have come to think that we are expected to be ‘on the go’ all the time (and we fall for it), so bringing awareness to the present moment is more difficult. We also just forget about it and continue on giving with everything that we have. It’s not until we make ourselves consciously aware of the present moment that we can truly receive its benefits.
6 Benefits of Using Your Senses in Mindfulness
1. Getting out of your head and bringing awareness to your body
When you pay attention to the present moment by bringing awareness to your senses it encourages you to feel what is happening in your body, the sensations that it is feeling and it encourages your spiritual connection to the Earth. Its about getting out of your head and bringing awareness to your body. It is a simple, yet powerful grounding technique that you can use whenever you’re feeling stressed, worried or overwhelmed.
2. Move away from being caught up in thoughts
Bringing awareness to the present moment by paying attention to our sensations moves us away from the ideas and beliefs that we have about ourselves, the world around us, our worries, our negative self-talk and our fears that result in unpleasant emotions such as anger, sadness and frustration. Using our senses as a technique in mindfulness can help us to find ways of being in a state of calmness simply with the use of our own bodies.
3. Exercises different parts of your brain
Becoming aware of your senses exercises different parts of your brain, particularly the parts of your brain that are older and more animalistic. These parts of the brain are associated with sensation and processing messages from physical experiences and are buried under the part of our brains that are responsible for our thinking and decision making (prefrontal cortex).
4. Leads to feelings of richness, wholeness and happiness
When we’re practicing being present by being full immersed and engaged with a situation we tend to have feelings of richness, wholeness and happiness. It helps us to be able to develop skills that we can then use to deal and cope with challenges that may happen in our lives.
5. Become more self aware and develop deeper connections with those around you
When you begin to practice mindfulness regularly you are less likely to get caught up in the worries and anxieties of what might happen in the future or things that have happened in the past, you’re more likely to feel good about yourself and have positive self-esteem and develop a deeper connection with your relationship to yourself and others around you.
6. Beneficial to your physical and mental health
Mindfulness has benefits to your physical and mental health. It can be used as a way to lower your physical and psychological symptoms of stress, lower your blood pressure, a way to reduce feelings of chronic pain and can help to improve your quality of sleep. Mindfulness is a widely recognised and used treatment for psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression and also substance abuse.
How to use your senses in mindfulness and self-care?
Your Sense of Smell
Using your sense of smell as a mindfulness technique is simply about paying attention to what you can smell around you. It can include:
- using essential oils (lavender essential oil has great calming benefits and can reduce feelings of anxiety)
- baking or cooking in general (think herbs and spices or sweets)
- drinking fragrant teas
- fresh flowers
- even getting out and smelling the fresh air (think the smell of dew of a morning or the smell of rain)
Your Sense of Sight
Using your sight as a mindfulness technique is about bringing awareness to the things that you can see. Our use of electronic devises keeps us from being present and making us aware of what is going on around us, so by bring attention to what you can see you can begin to pay attention to the colours, the textures, the shadows and highlights of the things around you.
- Spent time outside in a natural environment
- Look at things that you find beautiful, such as fabrics, papers or textures
- Watching a feel good, funny movie
Your Sense of Sound
Bring your awareness to the sounds that you can hear around you such as listening to:
- running water
- the waves crashing at a beach
- the normal sounds that happen around you (the air conditioner, the wind outside, the sound of typing on a keyboard)
- listening to TED talks or podcasts that make you feel good, empowered and motivated.
Your Sense of Touch
Bringing awareness to your sense of touch is about paying attention to the sensations that you feel in your body through touch. It can be:
- touching soft, fluffy cushions and blankets
- touching objects with different textures
- having a hot shower
- using moisturising creams
- cuddling your pet
- playing with play dough or kneading bread dough
- simply feeling the sensations of your clothing on your skin
- human touch
Your Sense of Taste
Not only is eating or drinking a great way to bring attention to your sense of taste, it is a unique way that you can use all of your senses all at once. When you pay attention to what you’re eating, you begin to notice the colours and textures of the food that you’re about to eat, the smells, what happens to your body when you bring the food close to your mouth, the sound of your food crunching as you begin to chew slowly and the way that the food feels in your mouth, how your body tries to make you swallow and whether your food is sweet, sour, salty or spicy. Participating in mindfulness eating also has benefits such as aiding your digestion of food and releasing hormones into your body that are directly related to your mood.
By using what you already have, your senses, you can begin to bring self-care through mindfulness into your day from as little as 30 seconds.
Practice bringing mindfulness to your routine every day and tell me what you notice.
Here’s to finding your best you.