Human beings are sight-driven creatures. According to some experts, as high as 85 percent of our perception is visually based. This over-reliance on our eyes can lead to health challenges. Recently, the BBC wrote a story that cited the work of Dr. Charles Spence, who researched the relationship between our senses and our health. His findings were somewhat striking.
“We have moved away from an outdoor physical lifestyle to one in which we spend 90% of our time indoors, often watching television or using computers,” the story quotes him as saying. “Although this makes life easier it doesn’t satisfy our basic need for a balanced multi-sensory diet. While our visual senses overdose on information, the emotional senses of touch and smell are neglected.”
In the spirit of Dr. Spence, let’s spend some time putting to work each of our five senses. Here are five New Year’s resolutions to reawaken your senses.
1. Hear — The sound of crashing waves
You don’t have to go to the beach to indulge your ears. Nature sounds, like the sound of crashing waves or of flowing water, can help you improve your focus and better your mood, according to one study. Download a soundtrack of nature sounds (or click the link for a video playlist!) and reawaken your senses.
2. Smell — The enchanting aroma of freshly plucked lavender
Health officials at the University of Maryland Medical center write that aromatherapy has been shown to help with a variety of ailments — “anxiety, stress, and depression” among them. Take a walk down a shady trail or buy some inviting incense, and you could find yourself feeling more relaxed in no time at all.
3. Taste — novel, inviting flavor combinations
Want to really reawaken your senses in the new year? Introduce them to something they’ve never experienced before. Healthy recipes like this watermelon and feta salad might have you second guessing the flavor combinations, but you’ll be surprised at how your taste buds will thank you for your bravery. Try different healthy recipes like this to find the flavor combinations you like and you’ll make eating healthy a lot more fun.
4. Touch — hug a family member
Most parents know and accept the science behind touch. As Scientific American writes, “children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional and social problems as they grow up.” Although we understand the risks of failing to touch our babies, we often fail to carry this lesson to its logical conclusion. Physical contact is good for everyone, no matter how old you are. Multiple studies have shown the physical and mental health benefits of the simple act of hugging. So hug a loved one today! (As if you needed another reason.)
5. See — go sightseeing, even if you’re at home
Not all of us have the means to see new and exciting corners of the world. If you can travel, opening your eyes to new sights can prove incredibly therapeutic. But even if you can’t, you can still feast your eyes on all the beauty of nature. This January, the BBC plans to release the second installment of its critically acclaimed nature series, “Planet Earth.” “Planet Earth II” gives never-before-seen looks into the remarkable struggle for life on our planet. Check out one of the clips they’ve already release: they’re absolutely astonishing.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.