Use Your 5 Senses to Decrease Stress and Increase Productivity


I like to think of myself as a hard worker who is committed to the many roles I have in life as well as in fulfilling all those roles in a high quality manner, but despite how hard I work or how much I press on, there are times when I feel stressed, overwhelmed, and stuck.

I am thinking that you can relate. You have probably experienced times where you just could not overcome that feeling of frustration, of having weight on your shoulders…

[Sorry to interrupt your reading…Listen to the music in the following video during the rest of your reading. You will understand why at the end of the article.]

You have probably felt like I just felt…

You try, try, try, but you are just running on a wheel. You’re stuck. You’re working hard and trying to get things done but you are just getting more and more overwhelmed.

I was recently working on a project. I was putting in a lot of effort to get it done but it seemed like I was making only slow progress or that I kept messing up somehow. I was getting frustrated without even realizing it at first.

Sometimes, our emotions sneak up on us and we don’t even realize what’s happening until we are consumed by them.

So, I needed to do something. I know that we all have the potential to live our lives with peace and fulfillment. It just takes some digging, evaluating, and effort to figure out how.

Here is how to get stuck out of your rut, how to stop running on a wheel…

THE KEY: Use all 5 senses to create a new experience within your mind and body.

Following are some tips for each sense and how you can use them to get un-stuck, so you can go back to being in line with your goals and make your hard work a little bit easier.

  • Taste
    • It might seem a little out there to say that taste can make you less stressed and help you complete your projects, but it really does help to use the sense of taste to do this. I’m sure you have heard many people advise you to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet (which is a great idea), but what I am talking about here is what you can do in a moment’s time.
    • Some ideas: Grab something citrus-y, some berries, almonds, or walnuts. According to Tyler Graham and Drew Ramsey, MD, authors of The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body, these are some of the most highly recommended brain-boosting and mood-boosting foods.
  • Touch
    • Our sense of touch can elicit a sense of calm and relaxation in our bodies which then impacts our mental energy and stress levels.
    • Some ideas: Pick up something smooth, grab a comfy blanket, hold a worry stone, or simply touch something with a texture you like, such as a smooth table top, a bean bag, or some playdough.
  • Smell
    • Smell has a big association to our emotions. Think about a smell that makes you feel calm and at ease. For me, one smell that I like is the smell of someone cooking barbeque on a grill or the smell of a wood stove. If you don’t have access to your favorite smells, try to find another pleasant smell.
    • Some ideas: the smell of an air freshener, the smell of nature/outdoors, or the smell of mints. You could even try aromatherapy.
  • Sight
    • The things we see everyday have a profound impact on our experiences. Everyone has a different reaction (even if they don’t know it) to different amounts of visual stimuli. Clutter is a big downer for a lot of people. Dirty dishes might be another visual stimulus that compounds your stress as it relates to getting projects done.
    • Some ideas: Focus your attention on something you think looks nice, beautiful, or is interesting in some way. You can look out your window, at an object, or look up an image on your computer. Another idea is to simply close your eyes so that you can momentarily remove yourself from the possible overwhelming effects of visual stimuli.


[image credit: D Wright]

  • Hearing
    • Sounds are another direct route to emotion. You can picture how different songs have different stories with different emotional messages. Consider the effects of listening to rock music versus a soft melody of relaxing nature sounds such as birds chirping and the wind softly blowing (or whatever sounds relax you).
    • Some ideas: Turn off all sounds you can, such as TV, music, and take a step away from conversating with others for a few minutes. Turn on some relaxing sounds, such as comforting music or your favorite songs (if they won’t add to your negative emotional state).
    • Watch Julian Treasure’s TedTalk about 4 Ways Sound Affects Us.
    • I hope you are feeling more refreshed and less stressed as a result of reading this article and listening to the music while doing so. Sound really can have an impact on you in many ways.

Now that you have learned some ways you can reduce your stress and get back on track, you can take a deep breathe and go back to your work and get that project accomplished!

You have the power to influence your own emotions, stress, and productivity! Be the best you that you can be!

Thanks for reading.
Have Hope;

[image at top credit: bottled_void via Flickr]


About Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA. Heather has obtained a master's degree in clinical social work and a bachelor's degree in psychology with a youth services minor. Heather is also a Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Additionally, Heather is a dedicated and passionate freelance writer. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, mental health, happiness, and life coaching.
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