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More than a sense: 5 innate tools to reduce stress

Shutterstock_534310210When life is busy, it’s easy to neglect our well-being. We may think, “I don’t have time” or “I’m too tired,” but what’s more important than health? We can’t give our best to anything or anyone if we don’t make time for self-care.

Simple truth: The more you invest in yourself, the more your body and mind will give back to your work, your relationships and beyond.

According to Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medicinal practices, a primary component of health that is often overlooked is how we treat our five senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch. In a standard work day, most of us are misusing or abusing our senses; this can exacerbate our stress levels, especially when the body and mind are fatigued. If we learn to use our five senses, we uncover steadiness and energy boosts.

Engage the senses to reduce stress and accomplish more.

Hearing

What we hear impacts how we think and the words we say. Think to the last time someone vented to you or unloaded their anger on you. Did you start to also use aggressive language or assertive behavior? Instead of listening to gossip, rumors or harsh words, consider listening to sounds that are more uplifting, like peaceful, instrumental music. Consider meditation or enjoying moments of silence. Practice avoiding office negativity and disconnecting from the daily grind.

Sight

What we see plays a large role in how we perceive daily life. When we’re surrounded by the walls of a cubicle or home office, we can feel underwhelmed. When we’re driving in rush hour traffic, we can feel overstimulated. We are impacted by what we see.

Instead of watching shows or movies with negative images (e.g., murder mysteries or horror films) try watching light-hearted films. If you work in an office with fluorescent lights or limited views of the outside, walk outside or sit by a window each day. If this isn’t possible, hang a photo of nature that nourishes your eyes during conference calls and stretch breaks. If you have to work late, take a sunset break to watch the incredible light show that Mother Nature offers daily. At least one hour before bed and one hour after waking, avoid looking at screens — computer, TV and phone.

Smell

Our sense of smell plays an important role in our health. Many of us can immediately recall memories based on smell. Nurture this powerful sense by smelling essential oils of sandalwood or lavender for calming effects; or citrus or peppermint for energizing effects.

Go outside intermittently to take deep breaths of fresh air. Getting outside can reinvigorate your energy just by smelling fresh grass and clean air.

Avoid working by smells that are displeasing — chemicals, cleaning products, garbage, and candles or lotions with a scent you don’t like.

Taste

Sense of taste influences cravings, and during a busy time it can be harder to eat healthy food. Sugar spikes from snacks impact energy levels, digestion and productivity. To avoid excessive snacking or missing meals, engage in all six tastes daily: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent.

Chewing at least 20 times before swallowing encourages us to eat slowly and enjoy the tastes. The real flavor of food comes from the experience, not mindlessly eating. Avoid multi-tasking while eating and “inhaling” your food.

Touch

Touch is a powerful way to calm nerves and release stress. According to the medical literature of Ayurveda, healthy touch can be equated to love. Through the lens of Ayurveda, if we think of a mother’s touch or cuddling with a loved one, this physical intimacy goes far beyond feeling nice.

Conversely, when we touch our computers and phones, we’re bringing electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) into our bodies. EMFs can cause us to feel anxious and overwhelmed.

To practice self-care through touch, hug someone every day, use a weighted blanket to promote feeling of security and consider the Ayurvedic Self-Massage. Charaka Samhita states, “By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with positive touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.”

Practice simple techniques to improve mood, energy and well-being.

Increase your health and well-being simply by nourishing your senses. You don’t have to overhaul your daily routines to feel better. Start with small modifications that have the power to transform your entire life when made consistently.

If you continue down a path of micro-improvements, you will stress less and accomplish much more, regardless of your workload or demanding schedule.

Transform burnout and live a life you love.

Lauren Baptiste is an Executive Wellness Coach, breaking-through the effects of workplace burnout. She founded Acheloa Wellness, a firm that empowers ambitious, hard-working women with the tools and techniques to be successful in today’s world. Lauren is practiced in Ayurveda, hormonal health and healing arts and is also a CPA with more than 10 years of experience in the corporate environment. 

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