The beautiful thing about self-care is that it can look different for each person.

Sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch: These fives senses bring vibrancy to our lives and allow us to experience the components that can make life so rich.

Being mindful about our senses can help us engage in self-care activities. Here are some ideas for getting in tune with your senses to improve your self-care:

Sight

Think of something that is intriguing for you to see. Using your eyes to look at images can also provide a nice distraction when feeling overwhelmed, and can help you self-soothe. Maybe you are invigorated by a walk in nature, art galleries, looking at old photographs, or watching moving images.

Or perhaps reading a book and processing words or images is something that makes you tick. Using our eyes to take in the world and images around us can sometimes be overshadowed by fixing our gaze to cell phone or computer screens. Try looking up and see what your eyes stumble upon.

  • What are you surrounded with and how does it make you feel in this moment?
  • What visual images are you drawn to?


Smell

Aromatherapy has positive benefits for well-being; it has been recommended for people dealing with anxiety, depression, and issues with sleeping. Even just simply noticing your inhalation and exhalation can help relax the body and mind.

Additionally, using incense, candles, or essential oils can have a calming effect to help us feel rejuvenated.

  • What scents bring you back to a distinct memory?
  • How do you feel yourself change when smelling different scents?


Sound

Music therapy can be a powerful influence that can help to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and more. Likewise, the impact of singing has been shown to increase levels of endorphins and oxytocin, which boosts mood and reduces stress.

Even if you’re not a fan of music, closing your eyes and tuning into the sounds around you can be an insightful and mindful experience.

  • What kind of sounds make you feel good?
  • When you feel stressed, what do you like to listen to?

Taste

With varied textures, spices, and temperatures, food has endless possibilities for mindfulness and self-care. In addition to providing nourishment, the food we eat can bring us joy and connect us with different cultures.

There is something to be said for the sentimental component of food: Memories associated with cooking and eating can remind us of special events, people, or places. When we are feeling a certain way, sometimes food can be an indicator of what we are experiencing emotionally- and what kind of self-care we might be craving.

  • What kind of food soothes you?
  • How do different flavors change your mood or energy?

 


Touch

As the largest organ in the body, skin is always in contact with something at some point in time, whether we are conscious of it or not. Getting curious about sensations we feel and things we touch can open up the possibilities for making the mundane intriguing.

And, of course, physical touch like massage therapy or being hugged by a loved one has positive impacts on our emotional well-being.

  • What type of physical textures and touches do you enjoy?
  • How can you incorporate touch as a self-care activity?

. . .

Putting it All Together

We do activities that incorporate all these mindful self-care strategies on a regular basis- we’re just not often aware of how all these senses singularly and collectively enhance our well-being.

Every person responds differently to each sense, so it’s important to figure out what is going to be effective and useful for your own self-care routine.

Noticing how many senses you use when you engage in activities that make you feel good can help you realize that you’re your own expert on self-care.

RESOURCES

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About the Author

Lilly Servera is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) at Well Clinic in San Francisco.

“With so much happening in daily life, you deserve to find someone empathetic, non-judgemental, and trustworthy to confide in. For me, it is a privilege to be allowed to listen to someone’s story, and witness their journey towards self-improvement.”

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