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The Power of Sensory Stimulation: Tips and Tricks for Self-Regulation

Hey everyone, I want to dive into a topic that's close to my heart and essential for anyone navigating the twists and turns of life: regulating the autonomic nervous system (ANS) through sensory stimulation. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is an intricate system that regulates our body's response to stress, with the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) revving us up for action (hello, fight-or-flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) helping us chill out and rest.

Self-regulation can be challenging when you don't understand your bodies need's or have the tools needed to overcome stress but its easier than you think. There have been times when i've personally felt overwhelmed and thankfully, having some of my favorite stimulation items on stand by have snapped me out of a slump.

A staggering statistic: around 70% of people globally have faced trauma at some point in their lives. That's a heavy load for anyone to bear, and it's why I'm passionate about sharing tools and techniques to support mental health and well-being.

When I began my journey as a therapist, I quickly realized that traditional approaches often fell short, especially for clients dealing with trauma. It became clear that a top-down approach focusing solely on coping skills and cognitive strategies wasn't always hitting the mark.

What was missing? The body. Our experiences are stored not just in our minds but in our very cells, and ignoring the physical aspect of healing can be a roadblock to progress.

"Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves." - The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

But what happens when our nervous system gets stuck in overdrive or shuts down altogether? That's where sensory stimulation comes in.

Imagine This: You're feeling overwhelmed, stressed, maybe even disconnected from yourself. Traditional grounding techniques like deep breathing or journaling just aren't cutting it. That's your cue to bring out the big guns. By engaging our senses—Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound—we can directly influence our nervous system and shift our state of being. It's like hitting the reset button on our internal dashboard.

One powerful tool in this arsenal is the trigger kit—a portable, personalized collection of sensory items designed to snap us out of distress and bring us back to center. Think sour candy for an instant jolt (War Heads), a raw crystal to ground us (try Hematite, Black Tourmaline, Smoky Quartz or Red Jasper), or peppermint / rosemary oil to invigorate the senses.

I've seen firsthand the impact these kits can have on my clients' lives. By empowering them with psychoeducation about the ANS and practical tools they can use anytime, anywhere, we're taking back control over our well-being.

So, whether you're navigating trauma, chronic stress, or simply seeking more balance in your life, remember: You have the power to regulate your nervous system and rewrite your story. It all starts with a little sensory magic.

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