Are you living in a state of creative numbness? Do you feel your mental wellness being sapped? Many of us now live our lives without needing to engage our primal senses which just a few decades ago we were using on a daily basis (things like watching out for danger and observing the behavior of others). Using these senses is thought to help boost our mental health and wellbeing.
This stat sounds tremendously high but if I think about my life – I am very active and I’d say I rarely spend more than 10% of my day outdoors – that’s just 2.4 hours a day!
As recently as only 50 to 100 years ago we spent far more time outside. Without the escapism of modern technology, we were experiencing the world without any distractions. We were seeing, smelling, hearing and reacting to things constantly, which naturally kept our senses stimulated. Modern city living has changed this.
All this time in artificial light and artificial air can be a major cause of creative or mental-wellness blockages. Actively stimulating our senses is now seen as a way of combating this to boost our mental creativity and improving our mental health/well-being.
A multi-sensory what?
Nature is the real-world’s multi-sensory experience but those of us who live in the city might not have easy access to green spaces or the great outdoors. If you are feeling in a bit of a creative slump, and don’t have easy regular access to nature, then a multi-sensory workout could be the next best thing. When done correctly, the effect can be hugely profound.
What is the importance of stimulating our senses?
When we enter a new space, our brain is overloaded with information. What sounds can I hear? What does the space look like? Can I smell anything? Is it hot, cold, dry, humid? Our brain then asks – do I need to adjust myself at all in order to feel more comfortable? If it’s dark my pupils dilate, if it’s hot my heart rate lowers, and so on.
The practice of stimulating the senses using space, sound, spoken word, and smells dates back millennia and provides some of the most basic tools for affecting social gatherings. If you have ever witnessed a service in an ancient European cathedral then you will know what I mean.
I’m in. How do I get started?
The key to a good multi-sensory workout experience is to stimulate as many of your senses as possible at the same time. We try and fit all of the below into every Sweat & Sound workout:
Live music (as opposed to recorded music) changes the structure of our brain’s synapses and helps with community cohesion – this is why many social groups are formed around music preference.
Smell can be directly linked to our primal instincts or ‘gut feelings’, due to its ability to generate feelings of nostalgia and/or very old memories.
Space and layout
This has one of the strongest abilities to stir emotional response, therefore is one of the most crucial to get right. Space syntax (behavioral psychology through spatial design) argues that the most fundamental impact on a community is the spatial design of their surroundings. Research has even proven the link between space syntax and anti-social behavior.
Visual cues and art
These are humanity’s most popular sensory stimulant, with visions of beauty having proven to have a positive effect on our state of well-being, namely reducing depression and anxiety.
A key sense which we at Sweat & Sound are adamant to include in all experiences. Actively using the imagination can increase feelings of curiosity, happiness and overall interest in life’s activities. Research even suggests a strong link between art and imagination with delaying dementia.
Movement (the workout part)
A sense that brings all of the above into motion… literally! Repetitive movement has and is still used by many ancient practices and religions as a way to intensify feelings of connectedness. The science is simple: increasing blood flow means our sensory receptors are heightened, meaning we absorb sound frequencies better, see clearer, think clearer and can better connect each sensory reaction into our web of emotive pleasure.
At Sweat and Sound we believe that mental wellness and creativity can be hugely improved through multi-sensory experiences, whether out in nature or in the city.
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