Sensehacking: What It Is And How It Can Make You Happier
DOSE is a wellness brand dedicated to improving your mood. They believe in hacking happiness naturally through doing things that make us feel good. We recently caught up with the team on what sense hacking is and how we can incorporate it into our daily routines.
WHAT IS SENSEHACKING?
Our senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste) can change how we think and feel, and so by ‘hacking’ them; we can reduce stress, become more productive and be happier. Anyone who’s ever reached a sporting, personal best thanks to Beyonce knows that the right sounds can motivate us like nothing else. From soundscapes to scents, the more we become aware of our senses’ impact on our well-being, the more we stand to gain from life. It’s a concept explored at length in a book by Oxford University Professor Charles Spence Sensehacking: How To Use The Power Of Your Senses For Happier, Healthy Living.
Discover five sense hack tips for how to harness the power of the senses and sensory stimulation to boost your wellness routine below.
SMELL YOUR WAY TO A BETTER MOOD
When we inhale essential oils, they transform our mood and change how we feel. Essential oils stimulate the neurons in our olfactory bulb, directly connected to the limbic system, responsible for our emotions. Lavender, for instance, is well known to calm and relax our mind, whilst citrus essential oils are known for their mood-boosting effects.
THE SOUNDS OF NATURE
Natural sounds and ‘green’ environments have long been linked with feelings of relaxation and wellbeing. Thanks to a 2016 study by researchers at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, we know that natural sounds like rainfall physically alter our brains’ neural pathways, helping us reach a calmer state of mind. Why not invest in a clock-like Lumie and sense hack your morning by waking up to the natural sounds of gentle rainfall or rain this summer?
SEE WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE
You might have heard of Dopamine Dressing – it’s the 2021 fashion trend that’s all about choosing clothing that makes us happy and sparks joy. A study released in 2012 found that when participants were asked to wear clothing that held some symbolic meaning, their perceived confidence increased. So wear clothes that make you feel good and, most importantly, have fun with your style.
Research has shown the positive impact that wearing the right coloured clothes, termed ‘enclothed cognition’, can alter your workout performance too. For your next HIIT class, wear red, a powerful colour known to increase your heart rate, or orange, which is stimulating and energising. Nothing says intense joy, cognitione the heady dopamine/endorphin rush you’ll be feeling after your HIIT class.
TOUCH YOUR SKIN
Our skin is packed with sensory receptors that need to be touched. Interpersonal touch is so powerful that it can relieve physical pain. We need seven hugs a day to get the optimum amount of ‘love’ hormone oxytocin.
Taking a cold shower will speed up metabolism and boost your immune system. It is also said to decrease inflammation in the body and help with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Furthermore, it has been linked to increased alertness and beauty perks such as healthier hair and skin. And then there are the mental health benefits, which include boosted mood. A study by Virginia Commonwealth University found regular cold showers could even be used to fight off depression as it sends electrical impulses to the brain which trigger a flood of endorphins or ‘feel-good hormones’.
If you prefer baths, the ideal water temperature to help you sleep afterwards is 40-42.5 degrees C. A study found that taking a hot bath about 90 minutes before bed could help people fall asleep more quickly. The hot water helps change your body’s core temperature so that you go to bed at a lower temperature.
Seafood undoubtedly tastes better by the seaside, and the strawberries taste better from the bush in nature. Picking the strawberries yourself means that you are somehow involved in the process, and that is probably important too, so it’s the freshest it can be and involves you in the process; finding the food for yourself also adds value. Give crabbing in Cornwall or strawberry picking a go on your summer staycation this year.
Alternatively, why not try spraying DOSE ‘HIIT ME UP’, a blend of citrus, bergamot, and eucalyptus essential oils pre-workout to get energised and ‘SMELLS LIKE YOGA’ with ylang ylang and lavender when you need to relax.
SENSEHACKING: GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT
According to Professor Charles Spence, sensehacking can be defined as “using the power of the senses and sensory stimulation to help improve our social, cognitive and emotional wellbeing. It is only by recognising every one of our senses’ unique capacities and acknowledging the predictable ways in which they interact to guide our feelings and behaviours that we can hope to hack our own sensory experience most effectively. By doing so, we can all start to improve the quality of life of those we care about, starting with ourselves. No matter whether you want to feel more relaxed or more alert; more productive or less stressed at work; sleep better or figure out how to look your best, or get the most out of your workout at the gym, the science of sense hacking can help you achieve your goals and aspirations.
From the moment we are born, sensation is fundamental to our existence. Spence explains, “Many of us complain of sensory overload; tired of being bombarded by too much noise, too much information, too many distractions – as technology advances, it’s only going to get worse. We don’t complain of having to deal with too many smells, too much touch or an overabundance of taste”. Touch hunger, however, is real. It’s all a matter of getting the sensory balance right.
By avoiding sensory overload, sensory imbalance, and sensory conflict, every one of us has the sensory tools at our disposal to live healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives by building on the emerging scientific understanding of the synergy between the senses.
Words by Hettie Holmes at DOSE.