How to Decrease Depression By Using Your Senses

July 31, 2012 Amie Merz, LPC, NCC

Here's how to decrease depression by using your good sense: put together a sensory coping toolbox to get you through tough spots. Read this to learn how.

What helps change your mood? A sad song? An upbeat song? The smell of cookies baking? A warm towel from the dryer wrapped around you? Right now as you are reading this, imagine a small plate in front of you with a lemon wedge on it. Imagine you pick up the lemon wedge and take a bite out of it. Is your mouth actually watering from the thought of it? There are many ways to change our emotions, and the senses play a big part.

Decrease Depression by Knowing Your Sensory Triggers

The information our brain receives comes in through our senses. We see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it. How that information is perceived, interpreted and processed, what it is linked to in our minds, can have an impact on the feeling we have as a result of it. For example, if in the past you got food poisoning at a seafood restaurant, the smell of fish may cause you to feel instantly nauseous. Your brain has associated that smell with that reaction and caused it to be a trigger.

What other triggers do you have? What triggers your depression? Knowing your triggers can help you be proactive, help you plan for them. Of course we can’t predict every trigger that might come along, but knowing our patterns can help us prepare for some and have a plan to address them.

For example, if a certain song reminds you of love gone bad, you can’t stop it form coming on the radio, but you can take it off of your iPod and change the station if you hear it. Or if an activity or a location reminds you of someone who has passed on, you might try creating new memories with that activity and include happy memories of that person.

Decrease Depression with a Sensory Coping Toolbox

What of some of your favorite sounds, smells, tastes? Create a box that you can use the next time you feel down. In this box place things that help trigger positive sensory experiences. These will of course be different for each person. What are yours? Here are some examples:

• A dryer sheet
• A piece of material to touch, i.e. silk, cotton, cashmere
• A song that elicits good feelings or memories
• A candle that has a smell you enjoy
• A relaxation CD
• A piece of gum
• A picture of someone you love or that reminds you of a good time you had
• Chimes
• Yourself recorded giving you healthy advice

This is also an activity that could help an anxious child in your life. Special items that help them feel safe and calm and taken out only in these moments (as opposed to playing with it every day). This is a way we can help kiddos learn healthy ways to cope when they don’t feel well. Being proactive with yourself and your children can keep you one step ahead of that depression monster who likes to sneak up unexpectedly.

APA Reference
Merz, A. (2012, July 31). How to Decrease Depression By Using Your Senses, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Amie Merz, LPC, NCC

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