Last weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday. A group of us were sitting around the fire, chatting and listening to music when the soundtrack to La Vie en Rose started playing. Everyone quietened down as Edith Piaf’s deep, soulful voice sang “non, je ne regretted rien” – no regrets. (I am listening to the song right now as I type this blog and remember the moment clearly.)
When the song finished, my brother-in-law said: “You don’t know what this song means to me”. In 2017 he and my sister-in-law visited Italy for their wedding anniversary. There he bought one of those small wind-up record players, that’s barely bigger than two matchboxes placed on top of each other. This specific one plays “No regrets” when you wind it up – the song we had just listened to. He had bought it as a souvenir of their trip together.
The small record player now stands on top of their shelf at home. He told us how, when his world is in chaos – the three children are all shouting at once, the dog is barking, the dinner is burning and he just wants to run away – he turns to the record player, lifts it to his ear and listens to Edith Piaf’s calming voice.
The reason this story stuck with me, and why I was so excited to hear it, was because he was making use of his sensory system to regulate his arousal level. He was using a technique we call a sensory snack. My brother-in-law realised that he was overwhelmed and he used his auditory system to calm down and make it through “Chaos Hour” in the house, without killing someone or running away!
His story highlights the importance of self-love and self-care. February is the month of love, and at Sensory Intelligence® Consulting, we firmly believe that if you want to show love to anyone else, you need to start with loving yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself first, then how can you take care of others? As the saying goes: “You can’t fill an empty cup”
Traditional self-care often speaks about meditation, yoga classes, walks in the forest with pictures of serene-looking people without a care in the world. However, we know that this isn’t what self-care looks like for everyone. What you find calming and grounding depends on your sensory threshold. Just like our pain thresholds, our sensory thresholds differ from person to person, and that is why some people might like one activity and others will hate it.
- Someone who is sensory seeking (we call them leaves) might love soccer, a pop concert or trail running as a self-care activity.
- Someone who is sensory sensitive (we call them roots) might love a walk on the beach, running on a quiet road, or sipping tea in the garden.
It is very important to find out what kind of activities will regulate and calm you down, according to your sensory system.
This February we want to encourage you to practice self-care first. Ask yourself the following:
- What do you love doing?
- How often do you do it?
- What are the quick and easy things you can do to take care of yourself? Like listening to Edith Piaf on a small record player, or a quick jump on the trampoline or in the pool.
Whether you like:
busy or sedentary activities,
lots of people or one-on one connection,
loud music or the sound of nature
there is a self-care activity that will work for you!
Not sure which activity will work for you? Lucky for you our founder and CEO, Dr Annemarie Lombard, developed the Sensory Matrix™. This online assessment tool will provide you with a guide to a healthy and productive lifestyle, with tons of tips and tools of self-care activities tailor-made for your sensory system.
This month, make self-love a priority!
Written by Karlien Terblanche, a specialist facilitator with Sensory Intelligence® Consulting, with a special focus on adults and corporate groups. She holds a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Stellenbosch and specialises in the field of mental health. She has extensive experience in the area of sensory integration in adults and is currently exploring sensory mindfulness as a preventative strategy in mental health and wellness. She is passionate about working with both individual clients and groups and aims to guide her clients to reach their full potential. She fully believes every person can become the hero of their own story.