Often when I walk about 'sensory solutions' people assume I'm talking to the neurodivergent community - but hold up! I want to talk to EVERYONE about the the importance of your sensory diet for your mental health - particularly in lockdown!
Here's the thing, if you don't have a wide and varied sensory diet (something that is severely restricted in lockdown) then thought patterns become rigid and repetitive. The problem with this is that we have negative thought patterns, then they become overwhelming and it's hard to change them.
Keeping new sensory input experiences happening allows the brain flexibility and the opportunity to change. The brain needs to be exercised and challenged to stay sharp.
Let's look at five key senses and see how you can support them, even during lockdown.
When you see the same four walls every day, and everything is exactly where you expect it to be in your environment, then brain becomes blind to it. Not only that, but we have static electric lighting and aside from our family members and pets, probably not much movement.
Outside the light is always changing. The sky could be clear or clouded, the trees might make dappled light that moves in the breeze. The leaves on the trees change colours, there's people you don't recognise, there's little animals running around, insects and even cars and lorries. All of these create visual movement that your brain has to stay aware of, not to mention full spectrum sunlight that recharges your pineal gland which will help you sleep better - so important for health!
Again, getting outside is a great way to expose yourself to unpredictable sounds, birds, cars, wind in the trees, dogs barking...
Believe it or not, silence doesn't really exist. That's why sound engineers will take a recording of 'room noise' before leaving a set for a movie so they can fill 'silences' without the sound cutting out oddly.
Try sitting still and listening to the quiet - I'll bet you can hear your heating, outside noise, creaking floorboards, pets snuffling, and probably more I haven't even thought of.
And finally, I want to speak briefly about affirmations. Nothing is more powerful for breaking negative and repetitive thought patterns. If you don't have people who can speak positively into your life, who tell you how wonderful you really are, then you need to find ways to hear that.
One way is speaking affirmations to yourself, out loud. If you haven't heard me speaking about anchoring those thoughts with essential oils, do join our friends & family group and search 'anchoring' to find my classes.
You knew I was going to talk about this, right?
Get your diffusers going!
Or have a go at making these gorgeous bath bombs.
Looking for something a bit quicker with low effort?
Simply add a drop or two of any essential oil to your hands rub them together and inhale.
Touch is so important for our mental health, but if you're alone in quarantine, it's unlikely you're getting very much.
If you're lucky enough to have a garden, get out gardening and enjoy the feel of the soil and the plants. Another fun sensory activity, which incorporates aroma too, is play dough. Yes, even adults can enjoy playing with play dough.
Don't worry, your boss can't see your hands on that zoom meeting ;-)
If you're fortunate enough to live with others, why not practice giving one another massages?
This short video will walk you through a simple hand massage technique.
Explore new tastes!
With pubs and restaurants closed, it's the perfect time to hone your culinary skills and try new things. Why not try one new recipe each week?
Or challenge yourself to try one new fruit/vegetable you've never had before, three different ways?
Pick a new cuisine - make fresh Italian pasta or try your hand at making a japanese katsu sando. Perhaps you've never had a North African B'stilla - give it a try!
As always, if you'd like access to all my recipes, you can try them free when you use this link to join Plan To Eat.
Have you got any other ideas for incorporating a varied sensory diet in lockdown?