For many of us, life’s a mad dash with overlapping duties and the juggling of work, family activities, caretaking and other obligations. For others, the days aren’t fulfilling and a sense of melancholy prevails. Finally, for many, unhealthy choices are too prevalent in everyday life. “Making yourself a priority” may sound like as much of a cliché as “having it all”, but carving out time to care for yourself and experience moments of personal satisfaction each day is crucial to your mental and physical health. So how can you do this without adding more stress to your life? Try taking just a few moments to focus on one of your five senses each day.
Think about the sights that make you happiest. Is it great art? Children’s smiling faces? It’s easy and practical to find beautiful images online of visual elements that make you feel good inside. If you only have 15 minutes, click through family photos or log onto a meaningful website. If you have an hour, visit a place full of the sights you love—like a botanical center or art gallery. According to PsychCentral, visual imagery boasts benefits like improved relaxation, problem solving and healing, and acts and a vehicle for self-development.
How often do you tune into the sounds you truly love? When you’re working, doing housework or in your car, are you listening to what speaks to you? Or by default, are you working in silence or listening to what everyone else wants to hear? Take the time to listen to three of your favorite songs or sounds today, no excuses.
Today’s the day to stop and truly smell the roses. Or the freshly mowed grass, the new potpourri you picked up at the store or even the cinnamon from your spice cabinet. Our olfactory sense is a component of well-being often overlooked. For instance, research shows the smell of vanilla decreases stress and the scent of jasmine has therapeutic effects.
Ah, food. Most people eat so fast they don’t know what they’re eating. Slow down by chewing bites 25 to 50 times and truly savor the flavor of every meal and snack you eat today. Take notice of how fresh foods actually taste fresh, how spices bring new flavors to a meal and how a small dose of something tasty can go a long way. Modestly indulge in a few of your favorite tastes, like dark chocolate, zesty lemon or sushi with wasabi.
When you see your partner, a family member or good friend today, hug them! And if you have a dog or cat, spend some quality time petting them, too. Stay in the moment and enjoy it. The power of touch is healing and beneficial to both the giver and the receiver.
Enjoy this week’s challenge of exploring and mindfully experiencing your five senses. It’s a unique way to put yourself on the path toward quality self-care and be more in touch with the world around you!