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Sense of Calm

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Common Sense

We get bombarded every day with hundreds of thousands of inputs to our sensory system. Every noise we hear in the office, every movement we see on the commute home, and every surface we touch between the two. Our systems can get easily physically overstimulated, and the same is true of our brains mentally. With all that goes on in our minds on a day-to-day basis, why not let our senses show us how to release the stress that gets built up over time?

“The five senses are the ministers of the soul.”

Leonardo da Vinci


Come to Your Senses

We use our senses all day long to process different aspects of our environment. And although they each work in a uniquely different way, they also work together. We’ve all experienced that when a stuffy nose prevents us from tasting our chicken noodle soup! If we can offer something to each sense that promotes peace, then we have a much higher chance of calming our whole body and mind.  Let’s dive in for a closer look at what you can do in your home or office to appeal to the needs of your senses.

Since you can smell something “from a mile away”, let’s start with the sense of smell. In the home, it’s easy to create a calming sense of smell without worrying about distracting co-workers. You could cook a meal whose smell makes you happy. You can light a scented candle or use an essential oil diffuser to waft your favorite scent around the room. There’s always the option of opening a window to let in some good ole fresh air. Stay away from cloying scents like a strong cologne, or mixing scents that could overwhelm your system. For the office, candles and smelly food are probably a no-no. But you could opt for a scented room spray, or purchase wearable oils that come in a roll-on form. For those of you who wear jewelry, you can get a necklace that is specially designed to hold and diffuse an essential oil without making contact with your clothes or skin.  

On to the sense of taste. This one will need to be personalized to you, since only you know what tastes are transcendent. Suggestions that might be helpful: a cup of herbal or fruit tea, a mint, a piece of gum or candy, a small bite of your favorite sweet treat. Again, try to stay away from spicy things and stick to mild palates, preferably something that you do not have to chew and swallow- think hard candy or lollipop. The point is to savor the flavor not eat a meal!

Perhaps one of the senses with the most options available is hearing. If you are home, then the sky’s the limit! You could play classical music on your iPod, listen to white or brown noise on your smart device, or turn the television on to play a YouTube channel on nature sounds. Or, a more organic option is to sit outside and listen the birds, the bugs, the wind, and the leaves. You may have a wind chime out your window that you can hear or a pond in the backyard. Any of these calming sounds will do wonders to drown out the noise around you (and in your head). Now the office is trickier, since you don’t want to interrupt other people while they’re working. But grab a good pair of Air Pods and listen to any of the above. If you prefer dead silence, bring a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to block out the phone ringing, the computer dinging, the people singing… okay maybe not singing. But it rhymed. If you don’t happen to have a desktop water feature in your office, you could even listen to the noises around you and try to zone in on the one that makes you feel the most calm: a ticking clock, the humming of the HVAC system, or the clacking of keyboard keys.

Next we have the sense of touch. When you’re home, you may want to jump in a hot shower, or you can snuggle up with a family pet, or take your socks off and squish your toes into the carpet. There’s always a warm sweater or a weighted blanket. Any of these things bring a new texture, temperature, or pressure to your sense of touch that will be calming. Some of these you may be able to replicate in the office, but for those who can’t, you could try running your hands under  cold or hot water. Other suggestions: use your hands to apply gentle pressure to different areas of the body, or take turns contracting different muscles throughout your body. You can do either of these for 30 seconds per area of the body.

Last, we have the sense of sight. This one could be the easiest and the hardest of them all. Our world is full of movement and technology and screens that make visual stimulation hard to get away from. On the other hand, you can close your eyes (safely) at any moment you need to take a break. If seeing a secluded tropical beach makes you feel at peace, then close your eyes and visualize it. Do you have a painting on the wall or a picture of your smiling grandbaby? Keep it where you need it most. In your home, have a space where the paint colors are muted and airy. In the office, bring in a wall hanging or a plant that relaxes you. Put a bouquet of flowers somewhere that constantly catches your eye. Best yet, look out the window or go outside, and watch the birds fly and the trees in the wind.

Now that we’ve looked at each sense individually, let’s see how you can really make them work for you as a whole.


Making Sense of It

If you’ve ever heard of the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique, then this will be simple for you to implement. For those who haven’t heard of it, this is a grounding technique that is used by people who have anxiety or are feeling anxious. It’s designed to help calm your nervous system by tuning into your senses. Throughout the exercise it is important to focus on deep slow breaths. You will then focus on the things happening around you using your senses, while continuing your breathing. This is generally how it is practiced:


5- Focus on 5 things you can see right now


4- Focus on 4 things you can feel right now


3- Focus on 3 things you can hear right now


2- Focus on 2 things you can smell right now


1- Focus on 1 thing you can taste right now


This will help you focus on the present moment and take your mind off anything that is NOT right in front of you, including anything that is causing you stress or anxiety.


Sense of Humor

Let’s not forget that humor is one of the best “senses” we can use to improve our state of mind. Laughter can do a lot to calm our nerves, rest our minds and lead us into a more peaceful perspective on life. It can physically strengthen your immune system, lower your cholesterol and even help your heart and lungs get some well-deserved exercise. Check out our blog post about more benefits of laughter here: A Laughing Matter - Sellers Insurance.

If you’re reading this article, you have a few more minutes to try the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique. So take a deep breath and focus on 5 things you see right now…


**Additional Resources


The Best 5-Senses Grounding Techniques for Anxiety Relief (

BHP Blog - Behavioral Health Partners (BHP) - University of Rochester Medical Center

How to Create a Calming Home with your 5 Senses | Elizabeth Erin Designs

Self Soothing: DBT (


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