Use your Senses and Keep Calm

Sensory Tips to Survive the Festive Season

This time of the year can be a connecting, magical, fun, overwhelming, frustrating, restful and hilariously crazy time! Today we want to give you some tips to survive the festive season, using your senses. We know that the December holidays can be a mixture of amazing and frustrating experiences. If you live in Cape Town, traffic definitely increases exponentially and a 10-minute drive can take you an hour. Last-minute shopping might have you dashing to the mall, along with thousands of others, navigating your way through Christmas decorations and Jingle Bell songs. If you have children you will find that they are picking up on the festivities – which means more energy! We haven’t even mentioned the big F yet… FAMILY!  Spending holidays with your family can be stressful at times.

All of the above might have you wondering how you are going to survive the festive season. Not to fear – we are here to share our TOP 3 TIPS TO SURVIVE THE FESTIVE SEASON, using your senses!

  • Our number one tip is: Remember to take a sensory break. All the sounds, smells, tastes, colours and movement of the festive season can overload your senses. Make sure you take 10 – 15 minutes every day to unwind and calm down. This break can be anything from taking a quick walk outside, closing your eyes and taking deep breaths, turning down the radio and driving in silence or any other sensory break you feel your body needs.
  • Our second tip is: Spend time in nature. Many of you will be going to the beach or camping near a mountain and this provides the ideal opportunity to get outside. Spending time in nature means you will probably walk, run or climb, which will use your movement systems to self-regulate. The silence of nature is also a great auditory break. And the natural colours give your visual system calming input. The importance of nature can not be over-stated. So whether this means a walk on the beach, or park run at Johannesburg Zoo – get outside!
  • Our third tip: Adopt an attitude of gratitude. If we focus on the things we are grateful for, we are less likely to become stressed and overwhelmed. We can literally change the pathways in our brains to improve well-being this season. Sitting in traffic because you left shopping too late? Be thankful that you have friends and family to get gifts for. Fighting over what’s to make for Christmas lunch? Be thankful for the delicious food that you have when others don’t. You can even take the next step and volunteer your time somewhere where you can give back to someone in need. Or donate old clothes and books to a place near you. Focusing on what you have to be grateful for, and giving back to someone less fortunate, is after all what this time of the year is all about.

Any more tips and ideas to share with us on how to survive the festive season? Let us know!

Do you want your own, personalised guide to well-being simply by using your senses? Find out more about our Sensory Matrix™ here.

The best Christmas gift of all

I know it might still be a few weeks away, but there’s that feeling in the air… Christmas is around the corner! Slowly but surely shopping centers are bringing their Christmas trees out of storage, dusting off the decorations and making plans to outshine last year’s colourful display. Suitable “body types” are being approached to fulfill many children’s dreams… meeting Santa Clause, sitting on his lap and telling him their innermost thoughts and desires!

And so also begins the (dreaded) task of searching for the perfect gift for your loved ones… a mammoth task to say the least!

Thankfully my family have made the decision a few years ago, to draw names from a hat. You only have to think of a magical gift from the North Pole for one other person. Suddenly the heavy Christmas shopping weight that was starting to wiggle its way onto your shoulders, makes way for a task to look forward to!!!

BUT (isn’t there always a but…) this name-drawing rule of course does NOT apply to the kids.

Since we encourage them to believe in the magic of Christmas, we should create some of it for them. Give them back their innocent belief in things that cannot be seen: Santa Clause, the elves, Rudolph and his reindeer friends, magical moments, hope, trust, love, peace, happiness and belonging.

My list of ideas for children’s Christmas stockings has less to do with the content and more with the action involved. It’s not an easy list, because it will require one of your most precious possessions… time. Undivided attention and time that they get to spend with you: their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Precious time where you create experiences filled with memorable moments.

In my opinion, the best way to achieve this goal for kids, ensuring success, is by adding sensory input, since there’s not enough going around in their lives anymore. You’ll be in their good books for a long, long time!

Nowadays children don’t get to experience the outside world as easily and unrestricted as we were able to and can easily miss out on crucial (and super-fun) building blocks of development: sensory processing and integration. Higher learning in later years is dependent on their initial interaction, experimentation and ‘’a-ha’’ moments during their younger years. TV, tablet games and sedentary lifestyles are simply not providing the same input as sensory experiences. Add to that the magic of sharing this experience with a loved one and you’ve created a lasting happy memory (and learning experience) for a child… and for yourself!

Let’s use common sense and involve our senses when choosing the perfect gift.

So here goes with some Christmas gift ideas:

  • A new storybook that you get to read to your child, while they sit on your lap.
  • A hammock strong enough for two. Quality time can be spent together in mid-air, while rhythmically swinging life’s worries away.
  • Cooking classes for the two of you. Now you can make trifle for Christmas together.
  • Swing ball / tennis racquets. Fun times on the tennis court for the whole family!
  • Making scented play-dough together. They can choose their favourite scents.
  • Create a dream-catcher together to look at when life needs some colour.
  • Spend a day at the beach, sliding down a sand dune in a cardboard box.
  • Learn how to play a musical instrument together.
  • Go for a horseback ride together… no phones allowed!
  • Girls and moms / grannies / aunts can go for a day at the spa.
  • New fishing rods, so dads / grandpas /uncles can go fishing with the kids.
  • …and don’t forget to decorate the Christmas tree together!

All they really want for Christmas… is YOU!


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