Over the past 20 years I have learned so much about sensory needs. Mostly I have learned about the needs of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, but I know that every human being needs sensory input of some type as they go through their day. If we didn’t have our senses, we wouldn’t be able to hear, taste, smell, see or feel. In stressful situations our senses become easily overloaded. I have felt this happening to myself many times this week. In these times, we need to think about and do our own “sensory diet activities.” We are not getting the sensory input we are accustomed to in our daily lives and our routines are out of the norm. Everyone NEEDS sensory input! You don’t have to be sensitive to noise, taste or smell to realize this fact. I am sure you can easily think about times where it all seems overwhelming and you just can’t deal with it. In thinking about this I decided to write a post giving parents some sensory strategies that they can do at home to help themselves feel more regulated and better able to keep ourselves going through this stressful time.
-Get outside! A change in temperature is good for the sensory system and the fresh air and sunlight can be very refreshing. Even a quick walk around the block can be enough to regulate our bodies.
-If your child has a swing in the backyard use it! You are never too old to swing. Vestibular input is the most powerful kind of input. Even a rocking chair is a great way for an adult to get this input.
-Use headphones to listen to calming music. Everyone has their own preference as to what type of music calms them. Listening with headphones will help block out other household noise.
-Take a bath. If you are able to get away for a bit, take a bath with a glass of wine and a good book. A hot shower can also be relaxing if you don’t have a bath (and you can still bring the glass of wine and leave it on a ledge or sink counter)
-If there are two adults in the house actually block out a half an hour for each of you to go and be alone. If we say we are going to do it, that never happens.
-Make a smoothie. Drinking something thick out of a straw is a great way to regulate the sensory system.
-Get yourself some deep pressure. If your child has a weighted blanket use it! Give lots of hugs. Deep pressure relaxes us. Give yourself, or have someone else (wink wink) give you a lotion massage.
-Take breaks. I know a lot of us are working from home, and kids are sitting doing schoolwork. Get up every half hour and run up and down the stairs, throw a load of laundry in, go take the garbage out, etc. Staying in the same room or area of the house and not moving for too long can make your sensory system feel unorganized.
-Interact with others. I know for myself I didn’t realize how much social interaction throughout my day helps me feel regulated. On an average day, I interact with my co-workers, other moms, the kids I work with, the parents of the kids I work with, and my extended family. It hit me yesterday how much I miss all of this! Facetime is a great way to feel a little less distanced. Or you can talk to neighbors or friends from the street or your porch. My parent’s neighbors each set up their own happy hour in their own driveways yesterday and talked to each other from their own property. I thought this was a great way to feel somewhat “normal.” Get creative!
In order to be the best for our families we need to take care of ourselves. As a mother of three kids, I know this is easier said than done. Please don’t forget to focus on your own needs during this time! Feel free to share anything that you have found this week that helps make you feel regulated .