When you're in an anxiety situation or in a trauma situation, you tend to feel numb or like you're floating. What you may not realize is, this is a self defense mechanism. When your brain catalogues something as a deeply negative experience, it's programmed to shut down your senses to help protect you from remembering too many traumatic details. This is why abuse survivors often don't remember details, unless they're brought to light in therapy. The memories are locked away in a vault in the brain. And while this is a fantastic design for protecting you from traumatic situations, once the brain goes into this mode, it doesn't know how to filter the good senses from the bad.
So when you're living in a state of constant stress, as many of us are, it's really easy to lose all of those good sensations you actually enjoy. When you tap into the senses you're grounding into your body, which helps you feel calmer. So find ways to delight your senses. Maybe cook a new food so you're tasting new things and smelling new things. Maybe take a nice warm bubble bath with oils that smell delicious. Or wear a nice fuzzy sweater that feels good against your skin.
Another way we can help our body focus on our sense of touch is with what I call love pats. This is an exercise I have my coaching clients do when they feel numb and out of touch with their bodies. As humans, we crave physical contact. Touch is very important to our nervous system and can help regulate us when we're feeling imbalanced. Think of the calming effect a hug from a loved one can bring.
With cupped hands and fingers together, gently and lovingly pat your body. Start out at your feet, and move up your legs to your hips. Then come out to your hands, and work up your arms to your shoulders. Then start at the top of your head and pat down your body. You can also try stroking your skin in a soothing way, or whatever feels nourishing in the moment. I recommend finishing by wrapping your arms around yourself in a hug.
Now I know this may sound like a strange activity, and it's not something I recommend doing in public... haha! But you may find yourself surprised at the comfort it brings. Especially in this last year where we've had much less physical contact than we're used to, loving touch can be very healing. So spend time sending love to your body. Find ways to delight your senses. These will help you feel calmer and more pampered. Let me know how it goes, and what these activities unlocked for you. I hope you have a great week.