Often times the way we feel is a reflection of our immediate environment. Colors, smells, lighting, sounds, temperature, texture, are all things that affect the way we feel. Cold, bright, loud is alerting and can be uncomfortable. Warm, quiet, dim is soothing and relaxing.
Even music can change the way we feel. Songs with a steady beat have shown to be calming and effective in lowering anxiety. Our bodies respond and “sync up” to the music. Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed- instruments, drums, and flutes are excellent at relaxing the mind. Nature sounds, and sounds of rain, light jazz, classical and easy listening music are very calming as well.
One of the things you can easily control in your home to create a warm comforting ambience, is lighting. Lighting is powerful, influencing us in subtle ways and can change the way we feel. For example, fluorescent overhead lights that emit a cool tone can make us feel uncomfortable. Warm, soft lighting can make us feel relaxed and creates a sensory friendly space. It’s especially helpful for children who have sensory processing issues as “the right” lighting can be calming and help with self-regulation.
-Ditch the overhead lighting and use lamps instead. Lamp lighting is less assaulting to your visual system.
–Salt lamps, battery powered candles and string lights around the home. You may want to even consider keeping Christmas lights up year round inside the room you and your children spend the most time in during the evening hours! You can string lights around the windows or drape them over side tables. It’s visually pleasing and can make any room feel cozy and safe.
–Incandescent bulbs emit a nice soft, warm glowing light (these are the bulbs that have been used for decades, but that people are ditching in favor of more energy efficient bulbs.) There’s nothing wrong with the energy efficient bulbs, but just note that they do emit a brighter, harsher white light.
–Keep a fiber optic lamp in your child’s room (the lights that have a “fountain” of fibers attached to the base.) There are many different varieties on the market- some staying one steady light and others that slowly change colors.
–Natural daylight is the best kind of light for working. If possible, try to position your child’s desk or table (where they do homework or read/ write) near a window that lets in sunlight. Natural light (directly from the sun!) is the best for helping children stay focused and on task.
Author: Christina Kozlowski, Occupational Therapist (OTR/L) and Creator of Sensory TheraPLAY Box