Normally, someone exhorting you to come to your senses means “smarten up!” But I’m going to take a completely different approach—I want you to come to your senses by caring for and indulging them, so you can prevent or even heal burnout.
Yet before you can come to your senses, we’ve got to look at just what I mean by sensory self-care.
What Is Sensory Self-Care?
In a nutshell, it’s just what it sounds like: caring for your five senses, which are sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. To be most effective, sensory self-care needs to address and indulge each of them so you can be soothed and uplifted—because your senses aren’t stand-alone; rather, they are tightly intertwined with each other.
As an example of how they’re linked, when a person loses a sense such as their sight, their other senses become keener. It’s simply not possible to affect one sense without affecting the others.
But just how do you go about caring for a sense, anyway? It’s not as though we’re taught this along with brushing our teeth or taking a bath.
Let’s take a look.
How To Care For Your Senses
To start, I want you to very consciously make an association between one of your senses and a precious memory. For example, you know how a certain smell can instantly take you back to a particular time and place you felt all squishy, warm, and happy?
Perhaps the scent of warm vanilla reminds you of baking cookies with someone you love. In that case, you could light a vanilla-scented candle or dab on a vanilla essential oil blend. Then voila, you invoke those same feelings of joy and positivity!
Move on to another sense. Perhaps you can indulge your hearing by sitting quietly and listening to a favorite song—one that makes you smile and tap your toes. Really pay attention to the notes, harmonies, and pauses. Notice how your mind and body respond to the music you cherish.
Then, repeat for your remaining three senses. Here are some ideas for you:
- Get a beautiful silk fabric swatch to touch
- Frame a favorite photograph to view
- Get a piece of the most delicious, decadent chocolate to taste
These are suggestions. Be sure to choose something that’s meaningful to you, and that uplifts and satisfies you.
Now that you’ve chosen your special items, I’d like you to assemble a sensory self-care kit with the items you’ve chosen. Keep them together in one easily accessible place. That way, when burnout symptoms such as despair, apathy, frustration, or overwhelm raise their heads, you’ve got your kit close at hand to counter the symptoms.
How Sensory Self-Care Helps You Overcome Burnout
You may not always be able to drop everything and tend to your sensory self-care, but you do know that your kit is always waiting for you. Even a few minutes of caring for yourself will help. So, inhale your special scent. Slide your fingers across the silk and smile at the feel. Put in your earbuds and listen to your music.
See how you’re very deliberately using the power of positive association to soothe yourself and cultivate a positive state of mind? This is so critical when you’re showing signs of burnout.
Self-Care Is Vital To Your Well-Being
I realize the idea of sensory self-care may seem very indulgent. So many of us have been conditioned to believe it’s selfish to spend time on ourselves, unless we’re tending to our physical health. But our sensory well-being is as vital to our complete health and well-being as washing our hands or going to the doctor for an annual exam.
I encourage you to take your sensory self-care as seriously as you do your wellness checkups or your dental exams. Tend to all aspects of your health and wellness; after all, you’re not a collection of parts that are separate from each other! You’re an integrated, whole being who deserves to feel good in all aspects of life.