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Using Your Senses to Boost Well-Being

by Beth on May 15th, 2023

Our senses play a crucial role in our well-being. In her latest book, Life in Five Senses, Gretchen Rubin explains how sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch can impact human connection, creativity, energy levels, and more.

Sight provides information about the world around us. It lets us read to learn new things. It helps us understand others by seeing their facial expressions and body language. Our sight allows us to appreciate nature’s beauty, and exposure to daylight regulates our circadian rhythm, which improves our sleep.

Hearing also lets us learn and it allows us to enjoy music and other sounds, as well as communicate with others. Music has a strong influence on our emotions. Hearing laughter can make us happier by reducing tension or strengthening a connection with someone. Using your sense of hearing to really listen to someone can improve your relationship.

Taste and smell work together to help us enjoy food and drink and avoid dangerous substances, like spoiled food. Did you know that we have olfactory neurons in our mouth? Bonding over shared food can deepen our relationships.

Rubin writes that Andy Warhol wore a perfume for three months and then never wore it again, so the scent reminded him of that time. My husband did something similar on family trips using hearing. He would pick one CD and play it over and over again. At the time he drove us crazy, but now every time I hear Mumford & Sons’ first album I’m back in Annecy, France with our 13- and 15-year-old kids.

Physical touch can also contribute to well-being by reducing stress and promoting feelings of connection.

Focusing your attention on your senses can help you be more mindful. When you go for a walk, note the varying colors of green in the trees, try to distinguish different bird calls, notice the smells along the way, and feel the air on your skin.

Paying closer attention to your senses and actively shaping your sensory experiences can help you live a fuller, richer life. You can create different playlists for occasions when you want to be energized or need to calm down or feel like taking a trip down memory lane. Hosting a “Taste Party” with friends is a fun way to try new foods or see who can identify different wines. Fresh flowers add color and a nice scent to your home. A lavender spray in your bedroom can help you relax. Burning a peppermint or eucalyptus candle can help you focus. Listening to Baroque music also helps with focus.

How will you use your senses to improve your well-being?

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