VOICES: Making “sense” of it all

La Shanda Sugg, LPC is a trauma-specializing Therapist in Cincinnati, Ohio who founded Labors of Love Counseling and Consulting, LLC to help people Move from Coping to Healing. Her trauma expertise and ability to make complex concepts easy to understand make her work accessible while her authenticity and transparency make people want to listen. More info check out www.thelaborsoflove.com (CONTRIBUTED)

Credit: Tasha Pinelo Photography

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La Shanda Sugg, LPC is a trauma-specializing Therapist in Cincinnati, Ohio who founded Labors of Love Counseling and Consulting, LLC to help people Move from Coping to Healing. Her trauma expertise and ability to make complex concepts easy to understand make her work accessible while her authenticity and transparency make people want to listen. More info check out www.thelaborsoflove.com (CONTRIBUTED)

Credit: Tasha Pinelo Photography

Many of us have experienced quite the rollercoaster ride lately. Whether it is the seasonal change into winter or the fact that we are close to entering a third year of a global pandemic, it can be very challenging to make it through our day-to-day. Our collective nervous system has taken a beating — and there is not a clear end in sight. While we many not be able to change the things happening around us, like the weather or the pandemic, we can feel empowered to make sense of it all.

Our five senses hold a lot of power in helping us shape our moment-to-moment experiences. Let’s start with smell – our most powerful sense tied to memory. One whiff of a certain smell can transport us to places in our past (good or bad) and cause us to relive a moment in time. With this awareness, we can choose the smells around us to help with our mood and sense of safety. Imagine one inhale and you feel like you are on a beach, mountain, or your favorite person’s kitchen – wouldn’t that be amazing? When you are feeling sad, lethargic, or are lacking motivation, you may try smelling peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus or coffee. When you are feeling anxious, angry, or having a hard time settling, you may try smelling lavender, vanilla or jasmine. There may also be other smells like certain foods, your safe person’s perfume or cologne, or nature itself. It’s worth a try.

How about sound? What we hear can help our bodies settle and calm. When you are feeling sad, defeated or just having a hard time getting moving, listening to rhythmic music that is higher in percussion and bass like rhythm and blues, reggae, or some pop music may help your body feel more energized. When your mind is racing, you’re pacing the floor, or feel like punching something, you may benefit from music that inspires relaxation like Native American, Celtic or India string-music. But it doesn’t have to be music. A baby’s laughter can brighten moods and the sound of waves crashing on a beach can help calm nerves. What sounds can you add to your playlists?

Our other senses work to energize and regulate us as well. Are there pictures that give you a sense of hope – landscapes, inspirational people, colors and shapes? Compiling pictures on your model device or in a picture album you can thumb through can alter your mood throughout your day. What our skin comes in contact with can also impact how we are experiencing life in the moment. Rubbing the fur of your beloved pet, a splash of cold water on your face, or being wrapped in a warm blanket can give us a sense of safety and comfort during times that feel out of our control. Food has long been comfort for many of us; an ice-cold cup of water can propel us into motion or a steamy hot cup of tea can help calm our nerves and settle our minds.

With all the challenges we face in our physical and mental health, sometimes one of the best things we can do is slow down and control the things we can. When we are intentional about what is coming in through our five senses, we can help shape what is coming out of us. Make sense?

La Shanda Sugg, LPC is a trauma-specializing Therapist in Cincinnati, Ohio who founded Labors of Love Counseling and Consulting, LLC to help people Move from Coping to Healing. Her trauma expertise and ability to make complex concepts easy to understand make her work accessible while her authenticity and transparency make people want to listen. Learn more at thelaborsoflove.com.

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