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Rediscover Your Senses, Feel Better

CancerWise - January 2008

Experiencing and exploring your five senses can improve your mood, help you relax and decrease pain. In turn, it may give people, such as cancer patients, a nice respite from everyday stresses.

The following are several suggestions for calling upon your five senses.

Be touchy-feely

Physical contact can help people relax. Touch sometimes has an instant soothing and calming effect.

To benefit from touch:

  • Receive or give a massage
  • Practice self-massage
  • Spend time with a pet
  • Do a craft or art project
  • Soak in a warm, scented bath
  • Touch flowers or plants
  • Walk barefoot

Stop to smell

A vivid pleasurable memory often has an associated scent. Remember the smell of freshly mown grass from your childhood?

To call upon your sense of smell:

  • Experiment with foods, drinks and spices
  • Brew herb tea, hot cocoa or coffee
  • Observe how certain scents affect your mood
  • Experience aromatherapy

Nature is within sight

In the daily hustle and bustle, you may go days without noticing nature.

To be part of the natural world while inside:

  • Hang photographs of nature scenes
  • Treat yourself to flowers or a blooming plant
  • Grow an herb garden in a sunny window
  • Get a fishbowl or aquarium
  • Look outside at a garden, birds, sky or clouds

Experience good taste

Even if you are trying to lose weight, you can still enjoy healthy, tasty food.

If you want to draw upon the sense of taste:

  • Experiment with new foods and combinations
  • Slow down and really savor food
  • Try healthy seasonings such as:
    • Garlic
    • Cinnamon
    • Turmeric
    • Chile peppers
  • Take a cooking class

Pleasure has a sound

Sounds can soothe and cheer.

You might:

  • Play an instrument
  • Sing
  • Dance, exercise or just move to music
  • Listen to recorded sounds from nature
  • See if your hospital has a music therapist

– Adapted by Dawn Dorsey from information created by M. D. Anderson’s Patient Education Office

M. D. Anderson resources:

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center