With screens taking up so much of our time (both at work and at play), it’s easy to become disconnected from the simple pleasures of living. Restore some sanity this season by tapping into your five senses, and turn the place you live into a more peaceful haven.
The sense of touch makes a wonderful antidote to a modern life often filled with screens and visual information. When we feel something wonderful— whether it’s the sensation of slipping into a hot bath on a cold night or of padding the smooth wooden floorboards of the living room with bare feet—it grounds us in the present moment.
Ways to experience the sense of touch at home:
- Pet your dog or cat, noticing the softness of its fur.
- Sink your bare toes into a deep pile rug.
- Snuggle up with a faux fur throw.
- Notice how crisp sheets feel as you get into bed.
- Sink into a hot bath.
- Notice the texture of an old leather armchair or polished wood floors.
We’re bombarded by visuals all day (and much of the night) thanks to the constant companionship of our screens, but how often do we really see what’s in front of our eyes?
Making a point to really look is a luxury, yet it takes only a few moments. Drinking in the view from a favorite window, noticing the clouds overhead or looking at a loved one is good for our eyes and hearts.
Ways to experience the sense of sight at home:
- Light a candle and take a moment to simply gaze into the flickering flame.
- Pull a comfortable chair up to the window with the best view in the house and spend a few minutes looking out.
- Take a break from the computer to look up at the clouds.
- Leisurely look at a favorite work of art—either a piece hanging on your wall or in an art book.
- Quietly observe your pet, child or partner and look for something you haven’t noticed before.
Sounds can affect our mood perhaps more than any other sense. When you find yourself feeling blue, overwhelmed or tired, try putting on a beautiful piece of music.
The music we choose to play in our home becomes part of the atmosphere as much as the lighting and fabrics we use—and on the flip side, too much noise can create an unwelcoming and chaotic atmosphere.
In a busy urban center, soundproofing materials can be more important than any sound system.
Ways to experience the sense of hearing at home:
- Experiment with playing different types of music and notice the effect it has on your mood.
- Play a record and savor the imperfect analog sound.
- Hang chimes or bells where the breeze can riffle through them.
- If outside sounds are bothersome, invest in soundproofing.
- Install a small fountain inside or on your patio and enjoy the sounds of burbling water.
Smell is quite possibly our oldest sense and is the most closely tied to memory. If you want to call up a time in your past, the easiest way is to track down a scent that you associate with that time, and it will all come flooding back—to this day, the scent of jasmine blooming on a summer evening brings me right back to my childhood home. You can use scent in your home to invigorate yourself, relax and unwind or find comfort.
Ways to experience the sense of smell at home:
- Put scented geraniums or herbs on a windowsill and run your hands through them to release the fragrance when you walk by.
- Cook a meal from scratch, noticing the aroma of the fresh vegetables and herbs as you wash and chop.
- Use essential oils in a diffuser or dropped into your bathtub.
- Simmer a small pot of water with a few cinnamon sticks, orange peels, apple peels and cloves.
- Light beeswax or naturally scented candles.
- Open up the windows to let in the fresh air.
So often we feel rushed at mealtimes, wolfing down our food without really tasting it. But taking the time to sit down and relish each bite is worth it.
Savoring our food, even a simple snack like sliced apple and a cup of tea, is healthier and leaves us feeling not only more full, but also more deeply nourished than when we hurry.
Ways to experience the sense of taste at home:
- Bring home an unusual fruit or vegetable from the farmers market to try.
- Put away your phone and turn off the TV before you sit down to eat.
- Add slices of fresh lemon or sprigs of mint to the water you keep at your desk while you work.
- Go for quality over quantity—a small wedge of really good cheese or a square of dark chocolate—and savor each morsel.
Engage all the senses. When you’ve taken the time to bring each of your five senses into focus in your living space, your home will feel more restorative and peaceful.
Creating multi-sensory experiences is a wonderful way to treat yourself when you need a little extra care. Pour a mug of fragrant tea, diffuse essential oils into the air, light candles, put on beautiful music and curl up under a velvety soft throw for the ultimate in home comforts.