Fall is here and this beautiful weather is making it challenging to stay indoors. Luckily, spending time in nature is an excellent way to tap into your senses. Between the smells of cut grass, the sounds of the wind rustling the leaves, and the change in external temperature, practically any activity can be sensory-focused when done outdoors.
Using our Fall Scavenger Hunt download, I’ve had a lot of fun playing outside in my OT sessions this week. After identifying an item on the list, I will encourage my clients to
pause and consider how they can be experienced through different senses.
For example, upon one child identifying a pinecone, we went through each of our senses and asked ourselves, can we experience this item with this sense? Some questions I asked were:
Can you smell it? How does it feel? Is it heavy? Can you hold it over your head? Is it cool or warm? Does it make any sounds?
Phrasing these in question form (rather than just telling them the answer) encourages one to focus on and become more aware of internal sensations (interoception, yall!) , which is crucial for emotional regulation.
This principle can be applied to so many activities. The scavenger hunt download also includes pages that have non-specific items such as “something bigger than you” or “something loud”.
I truly believe that encouraging curiousity and exploration can increase confidence and feelings of safety related to new experiences. Offering the opportunity to pause and share an experience is a mindfulness activity which research very clearly shows can lead to improved mental health outcomes.
What are some ways you’ve incorporated sensory exploration into other occupations like play or self care? Comment below , we love to hear it!