Deploying Sense for Stress

Grace Chan, Professional Counsellor
Singapore Counselling Centre

Wellness is the state of living a lifestyle that harmonizes every important aspect of your life.  Being well does not equate to a full eradication of stress.  A good part of being well lies in our ease in managing stress. Stress-management strategies, whilst many and diverse, are only as effective as we are willing to experiment and adapt them to suit our personalities, preferences and lifestyles. Often, we look to external support systems and methods to cope, which may not always be accessible when we most need them.  

It is vital we learn to self-soothe and pay more intimate attention to our natural physiological defenses against stress. What better way to start than deploying our Five Natural Senses more effectively.

Let’s take a step to explore some self-soothe techniques for each sense, that we can easily attempt in moments of stress.

Sight: Look around, pay attention to your surroundings.  See what interests you, what calms you and what amuses you.  Distract yourself a little.  Perhaps a good movie, old photographs, the skyline, passers-by, or even an imagined place of solace. Recalling memories that make you smile helps too.  

Touch: The skin is our largest organ.  It is very responsive to touch, and that can positively affect our moods.  Pay attention to the things you like to feel.  Playing with your pet, cuddling your soft toy, nestling in a big plush pillow, getting your feet into cool water or taking a warm shower – do not underestimate their benefits.

Sound: Be mindful of the sounds that bring you joy, calm and even excitement.  Chirping of birds, the rustling of trees, making music, sound of waves, cooking up a noisy storm in the kitchen or perhaps even singing to yourself.   

Taste: A delectable meal, a healthy snack or a good cup of soothing tea gives comfort and is a great boost in any tiring day.  Consider the type of foods or drinks that uplift you.  Binge-eating is, of course, never the solution.  On the contrary, use them wisely and in moderation.  

Smell: Aromatherapy is now widely promoted to improve overall health and wellbeing.  Indeed, it stimulates our olfactory system (the sense of smell) and affects our limbic system, which has an impact on how we feel.  Give some thought to the scents that you like.  Sometimes, a simple stroll in the garden, taking in the morning air, or having a whiff of your favorite foods add much to your spirits.

Deploy All Five Senses 

Put all your senses to work in moments of stress.  Do not underestimate the “little” uplifts from each.  Even a “little” gets us through the day.  Come up with an arsenal of things you can do with your senses and explore what works best for you.  The more you have, the better is your self-care.