Waitrose Health magazine
AN APPOINTMENT WITH DR RADHA MODGIL
The GP and ambassador of The National Academy for Social Prescribing explains why we need to nurture our senses – all six of them!
Using your senses connects you with the wider world
Focusing on our senses – whether looking, listening, touching, smelling or tasting – reminds us of life beyond our own four walls. When we’re going through difficult times, our senses tell us that some things never change. The sky will still be there tomorrow, and the sun will always rise! Remembering that there are things in nature that are beyond our control is calming. It helps us step back from stress and anxiety.
Hearing can be heartening
The human voice is comforting and soothing. In stressful times I still love to curl up with an Agatha Christie audiobook, just as I did as a child. Having someone read me a good story transports my brain to another place and spirits me away from my worries.
Your voice matters
The sound of your own voice is precious – and feeling heard is the first step to feeling understood. When you can be open and authentic with people you trust, you will make the most special and meaningful connections that you have ever known. In the same way that food takes time to digest, being real with a trusted friend will help you slowly work through your worries.
A grey day doesn’t have to mean a ‘grey feeling’
Sprinkle colour through your day with happy thoughts and a rainbow of gratitude. Wear your brightest clothes, socks and even underwear. It can make a big difference. Embrace the grey. Get cosy, get comfortable, get snug. You can always turn a grey day around!
A hug is a shortcut to ‘hygge’
The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ is all about cosiness and comfort. A hug from yourself, from others, with your pet, a teddy bear or a soft cushion will always help you feel comforted. However old you are, your body will always respond to hugs through the release of feel-good chemicals.
Touch is not the only way you feel
We have all experienced times when our bodies have responded physically to something that has happened to us. A hurtful remark can leave us feeling as if we’ve been punched in the chest. Anxiety can make us feel nauseous. When we tap into these feelings we are tuning into our intuition and learning to use our instinct about how to respond.
You really do have a sixth sense
Your sensory world goes beyond your five key senses. When you use your intuition and imagination you are engaging your sixth sense – the inner power that enables you to approach life with confidence and trust.
Hobbies help us to tune into our intuition
When you’re doing something creative your mind will settle, distractions will quieten down, and you can get in touch with who you really are and what you really want from life. Find different ways to express yourself, such as music, art, baking, moving your body, or gardening… If you can do an outdoor activity, so much the better – you’ll have the extra benefit of being in nature and using all your senses.
Life isn’t a baseball game. It’s not ‘three strikes and you’re out’
Your intuition is always there, endlessly pitching balls. You always have another chance at hitting a home run – as long as you don’t ignore or run away from what your intuition is trying to tell you. Before you can move on, you must be prepared to catch that ‘ball’, seeing the situation for what it really is – even the bits that make you uncomfortable. This can be difficult – but ultimately rewarding, bringing better self-awareness and stronger self-esteem.
Taking a comfort break should not just be a euphemism
To feel comforted is no small thing. We don’t talk about it much, but we should. When we feel safe and secure, physically and emotionally, we make the decisions that help us recover from a setback. Think of comfort as anything that gives you the same feeling as a huge, warm, soft blanket that you wrap around you when you feel vulnerable. It can help lessen fear, anxiety, sadness and despair.
Simple self-care says: ‘you’re worth it!’
Something as basic as clipping your nails or taking a shower reminds you that you matter, you are worth looking after and, whatever has happened, you care about yourself. This is an important message that your subconscious will appreciate and feed back to your self-esteem. It’s a simple act of kindness to yourself that is at the core of connecting with your inner power.
See it, hear it, smell it, taste it …
Be proud of who you are, and try using your senses to match your emotions and bring them to life. For example, my default mode is to be modest and self-effacing – but when I finished writing my book, Know Your Own Power, I decided it was time to practice what I preach: I deserved to revel in my achievement! It was Easter Day, so I celebrated by eating a Cadbury’s Creme Egg and dancing to Lady Gaga’s ‘On the Edge of Glory’!
How can you use your senses to bring a feeling to life?
Use your senses
- Feel every inch of the soles of your feet connecting with the floor.
- Focus on each of your senses. What can you see, hear, smell, feel and taste?
- Use your breath. Deep, slow. In, hold, out. Repeat.
- Say to yourself, ‘I am OK and I am safe.’
- Put on a song, go for a run, look at the clouds, touch a tree, feel some earth.
From: Know Your Own Power, by Dr Radha Modgil (£14.99, Yellow Kite)