Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Learning to regulate my senses has greatly contributed to improving my mental health. When I was working in an office setting, I was overstimulated by environments and by people all the time. Working from home, I am less overwhelmed, but I can still become unregulated if I'm not careful. And when my senses aren’t regulated, my mental health takes the fall.
Whether you have sensory difficulties or not, your mental health probably suffers at work more than you realize. So take some time to boost your mental health while working — you deserve it!
Here are some sensory tricks to use both at home and in the office:
Use a vitamin D lamp. I position mine so I sit directly underneath it. To absorb all those good rays.
Drink something hot or something cold. Or both. To help you stay present.
Drink chamomile tea. It calms the nervous system. I also love Traditional Medicinals’ Stress Ease — it’s super yummy.
Eat snacks. To stay mindful. I prefer crunchy things. Like apples, crackers, chips, etc. My occupational therapist (OT) also recommends sucking on something when processing is difficult. Like a hard candy or a throat lozenge.
Eat protein and carbs every two to three hours. To help keep your blood sugar levels stable. When you’re having a difficult time processing, these levels can fluctuate.
And if you’re like me and don’t always know when you’re hungry, sometimes forgetting to eat, eating every two to three hours prevents this.
Get up and move at least once every hour. Movement is key to staying regulated and present. This may mean walking, jumping on the trampoline, doing yoga, or if you’re home, emptying the dishwasher or doing laundry.
Try to exercise on your lunch break. When I had an office, I closed the door and practiced yoga. When I had a cubicle, I found a vacant room in the building to practice.
Also if you work in an office, don’t feel the need to be social during lunch if it will deplete your energy. Or only go out on Fridays. Find the balance that works for you.
Cross your legs and arms — to get the left and right side of your brain communicating. You can do Eagle pose if you’re a yogi, but it doesn’t have to be that complex. You can simply sit down and cross your legs and invert your arms and fold your hands.
Use a weighted blanket. It will help relax your nervous system and help you stay grounded.
In an office, you can use a weighted rice pack and place it on your shoulders or on your lap. Also, using a heated rice pack is a great way to stay warm in the winter.
Smell essential oils throughout the day. I have lavender with me at all times. I place it on my wrists so I can sneak a quick whiff whenever I need to.
Listen to music. I find that brainwave and chakra-balancing music really help me focus. When I worked in an office setting, I found I needed to listen to music in the morning to prepare me for the rest of the sounds throughout the day.
Wear earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. Especially when working in an office setting. But remember to remove noise-canceling headphones intermittently to help yourself stay regulated to sound.
Have some connection to nature. Whether it’s going outside or touching your plants. I’m not kidding. It helps keep you grounded. I have plants in every room of the house, and I gently rub them as I pass by.
In an office, bamboo plants are great because they don't require direct light. If you choose to bring plants that need more light, you can get vitamin D lights for your plants too.
Breathe. When my processing is difficult, I unknowingly hold my breath, which you might do too.
If you catch yourself holding your breath, breathe from your gut: push your stomach out while inhaling, feeling your breath expand your body as you rise up to the crown of your head and pull your stomach in while exhaling, feeling your breath collapse your body from your head to your toes.
If you have some sensory tricks you'd like to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Also, be sure to check out next week’s post on interacting and sharing your neurodiversity with your boss and coworkers.
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash