Anxiety can manifest in various forms, from mild unease to debilitating panic attacks. While we all are aware of the usual therapeutic approaches such as medications and meditation, incorporating sensory activities into your daily routine can be an effective, natural, and holistic way to redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts and toward the present moment.
In this article, we will take a look at the 5 senses and explore some activities that can provide comfort and relaxation to manage you anxiety.
Auditory activities can distract your mind from anxious thoughts and promote a sense of calm. Here are some auditory activities for anxiety:
White Noise or Pink Noise: White noise is a constant sound that masks other background noises and can help you focus and relax. Pink noise is similar but has a slightly different frequency distribution. You can use apps or machines that generate these sounds.
ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response): Some people find ASMR videos or audio recordings to be very relaxing. ASMR typically involves soothing sounds or whispers that trigger a tingling sensation in the scalp and spine.
Nature Sounds: Play recordings of calming nature sounds like rain, ocean waves, birdsong, or a gentle stream. These sounds can be incredibly soothing and transport your mind to a peaceful place.
Music Therapy: Create a calming playlist of your favorite music. Classical music, ambient, instrumental, or even slow tempo songs with positive lyrics can be effective in reducing anxiety.
Engaging in tactile activities can be an effective way to manage anxiety and promote relaxation. Here is a list of tactile activities that you can try:
Art: Try various art techniques like finger painting, using textured paper, or creating collages with different materials.
Flower arranging: Flower arrangement involves feeling the textures of the petals and leaves, choosing different flowers, colors, and arrangements. All of this lets you express your emotions and thoughts in a non-verbal way. When you focus on selecting, arranging, and caring for the flowers, you naturally shift your attention away from anxious thoughts about the past or future.
Hand Massage: Give yourself a hand massage using lotion or oil. Focus on each finger and the palm of your hand to release tension.
Weighted Blankets: Invest in a weighted blanket to experience deep pressure touch, which can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
Visual anxiety relief refers to using visual techniques or stimuli to help reduce or manage feelings of anxiety and stress. These techniques often involve using calming and soothing visual elements to create a sense of relaxation and calm. Here are some visual anxiety relief strategies:
Nature Scenes: Nature has a calming effect on many people. You can use images or videos of natural landscapes like forests, beaches, mountains, or meadows to help you relax. Virtual reality (VR) experiences of natural settings can be particularly immersive.
Color Therapy: Colors can have a significant impact on our emotions. Experiment with color therapy by using calming colors like blues and greens in your surroundings or on your digital devices. Try swapping out your bedding for a calming shade to create a less anxiety inducing environment.
Coloring/Water Color: Coloring books for adults have gained popularity in recent years. The act of coloring can be meditative and visually satisfying. Whether your tool of choice are crayons, colored pencils, markers or water colors, this is a chance to sooth your inner child.
Our sense of smell is closely linked to our emotions and can have a powerful impact on our mood. Here are some olfactory anxiety relief methods you can try:
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to stimulate the olfactory system and promote relaxation. Some popular anxiety-relieving essential oils include lavender, chamomile, rose, and frankincense. You can use a diffuser, add a few drops to a bowl of hot water, or mix with a carrier oil for topical application.
Scented Candles: Lighting scented candles with soothing fragrances can create a calming atmosphere. Look for candles with scents like lavender, vanilla, or eucalyptus.
Incense: Burning incense sticks or cones can fill the room with a calming scent. Scents like sandalwood, patchouli, and jasmine are often used for relaxation.
Scented Bath: Add a few drops of essential oil to your bathwater and immerse yourself in soothing scents.
Gustatory preferences are highly individual, so exploring different tastes and foods to find what resonates with you can be a fun journey to alleviate your anxiety. Here are some gustatory anxiety relief methods you can try:
Herbal Teas: Brew and sip on calming herbal teas like chamomile, valerian root, or lemon balm. The warmth and taste can be soothing.
Ginger: Ginger tea or ginger chews can help with nausea and digestive discomfort, which are common physical symptoms of anxiety.
Dark Chocolate: A small piece of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) can satisfy your sweet tooth and release endorphins, which can help improve your mood.
Sour Foods: Sour tastes can stimulate the salivary glands and promote relaxation. Try foods like sour candies, pickles, or sourdough bread.
Bonus: Go Caffeine-Free Avoid or limit caffeine, as it can exacerbate anxiety symptoms in some individuals. Opt for caffeine-free herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee.
Remember that different techniques work for different individuals, so it's essential to explore and find what resonates with you the most. Combining these anxiety relief techniques with other strategies, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation can be even more effective. The trick is to find the activities that will calm you and keep you in the present moment.
If your anxiety is severe or persistent, consider seeking support from a mental health professional for tailored guidance and treatment.