Limber Up to Relax

Pink flowers You can see that memories, senses and emotions are actually linked in your brain and, because the olfactory bulbs are so nearby, smell becomes strongly linked as well. Now you know the reason why a smell can bring back a sudden sharp memory from many years ago. You can use your senses to calm yourself by accessing old happy memories and also creating new calming memories linked with the senses. So how are you going to do it?

You start by thinking about which senses bring back relaxing memories for you. In groups, people have told me how a certain piece of music, the scent of a flower, a particular colour immediately relaxes them and, even just by remembering these things, they feel calmer.

You can use several senses together. For example, people have said they remember feeling calm when walking in the countryside which involves the scents of plants and earth, the touch of the wind, the sounds of birds, the colours of nature.

Take a moment to think about your senses and what relaxes you and brings back happy memories. You might like to make a list. Here are some ideas other people have had.


  • A sunny day
  • Countryside
  • Flowers
  • Clouds
  • Birds flying past
  • The sea


  • The wind in the trees
  • Birdsong
  • The voice of someone you love
  • Music
  • Waves crashing against the shore


  • Flowers
  • Soap
  • Candyfloss
  • New mown grass
  • Cakes baking


  • Hugs
  • Massage
  • The wind on your face
  • Clean bedclothes
  • A warm bath


  • Toffees
  • Parkin
  • A cup of tea
  • Candyfloss

Don't worry if you found it easier to think of ideas for some senses than rather others. Everyone is different! Some people are more visual or more sensitive to smell or touch or sound. The important thing is that you think of sights, sounds, tastes, smells and other sensations that relax you.

Although, in groups I have run, many people found it less easy to summon up particular positive feelings from taste than from the other senses, this isn't the case for everyone. For some people, the sense of taste brings back strong memories...



In Swann's Way, the French writer, Proust, talks about how the taste of a little cake, a madeleine, dipped in tea brought back a huge range of positive feelings.

"...I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. [...]

And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before church-time), when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it..."

Coming up next...

You've found out which sensory experience has relaxed you. Next, find out how to use your senses to relax.