We can cope with events, our mood and stress better when we are:

  • Sleeping well
  • Exercising daily
  • Managing any pain or physical health problem
  • Eating regularly and well.
  • Managing our alcohol and drug consumption.
  • Doing something relaxing daily
  • Meeting our sensory needs eg for more stimulation or less stimulation in our week.

If one of these areas is a problem area for you it is worth thinking about whether you can make any changes.

Sometimes we need to change the situation that we are in. This may include work, relationships, home environment or friendship groups. Or sometimes we need to work on improving our personal relationships. When we are stressed it can be difficult to see how we can do anything at all about some of these things.

It can be helpful to have a quiet moment to think about what is causing you stress and to develop a simple step by step plan to resolve it.

"There are only 4 Solutions to Solve any Problem:"**

  1. Stay Miserable.

  2. Change the Situation.

  3. Change your thinking about the Situation.

  4. Accept the Situation.

from Behaviourtech. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

Introduction to Sensory Modulation


Sensory Modulation is using sensations to change our emotions.

We can use sensations to help us to feel calm when we are stressed.

This may include:

  • Taking a soothing bath
  • Laying in the hammock.
  • Listening to music
  • Lighting a scented candle
  • Wheat pack around our neck
  • Have a massage.

It can be useful to talk with an Occupational Therapist about which sensations you can use to feel calm when stressed. Our bodies are primed to relax through sensations as this is how we relaxed when we were babies.

We can also use sensations to wake us up, scare us or inspire us.

We are doing this when we turn on and off music and lights, we walk away from bad smells, chew gum to wake up, or fidget with our ring.

Imagine that it is time to study. The lights are low, the windows are closed and there is a low humming from the air conditioner. Pretty soon, we can start to feel sleepy. If you notice this, you could tell yourself to wake up. This is unlikely to work for very long. You could also:

  • open the windows,
  • turn on bright lights,
  • have a cold drink
  • clap your hands
  • fiddle with your pen.
  • use scented rubbers

These strategies arelikely to work. You have used Sensory Modulation to wake yourself up.

Sensory Modulation for mental health

You can also use sensory modulation to cope with anger, anxiety, stress, getting to sleep, cravings for drug or alcohol or to concentrate at work.

When people start using sensory modulation, it is often a relief as it is much easier than trying to change your thinking!

If you are interested in being more aware of using sensory modulation in your life, you may benefit from an appointment with an Occupational Therapist. Occupational Therapists offer Sensory Modulation for Adults in Brisbane.

Examples of using sensory modulation are available on this website under "Ways to be less Stressed". 


Sensory Seekers for movement like Amusement Rides.

Sensory Seekers for movement like Amusement Rides.

Each of us has a different limit for how much sensation we need. For some people, a little bit of sensation seems like enough, and too much sensation can be overwhelming. Other people need a lot of a particular sensation to even register it. Others are the sensation seekers who crave variety and intensity to their sensations.

We may have different limits for different senses. For example someone may be very sensitive to smell and bright lights, but seek lots of strong movement.

To give you an idea of some people and their sensory profiles,  think of sensory seekers like Tom Cruise leaping over couches, Pink on her trapeze and James Bond jumping out of planes. James only likes one drink though (Martini and only in a certain way: shaken not stirred) so he is probably sensory sensitive with taste. C3PO from star wars is sensory avoidant and certainly would prefer not to be swept up in so many new sensory experiences. 

Occupational Therapists use the Adolescent/ Adult Sensory Profile to help people to reflect on their own approach to sensations.

Sensory Profiles can be helpful to :

  • Improve relationships: Our relationships improve when we learn about our own and our partners sensory profiles. This may include our preferences for more/less music, same/different food, little or lots of scent, lights on/off, active holidays vs relaxing holidays, messy desk, clean desk.

  • Improve work satisfaction: When our daily work matches our sensory preferences we can be more satisfied. Some people feel more satisfied when they are in a quiet place with no interruptions. Maybe noise cancelling headphones would assist them to focus. Other people need variety in what they look at. Maybe changing rooms or meeting in a cafe would improve their job satisfaction. Sometimes a career change is required to better meet our sensory needs.
  • Improve leisure time:  Some people may enjoy activities at home in a quiet low scent environment whilst others may enjoy music, art, exercise, or designing perfumes.
  • Improve your exercise regime. Sometimes we have thought that we just aren't motivated to exercise when really we haven't been doing an exercise that matches our sensory profile. For example some people need to join the circus, rockclimb and bungy jump (movement seeker) whilst others need to go to stay home and use gym equipment without any music or strong smells.
  • Improve our daily routine This can include shopping, cleaning and laundry. Some people may prefer shopping in small quiet shops outside of busy times whilst other people could spend hours in noisy shopping centres. Or some people may need lots of variety to get the housework done eg music and a variety of household cleaning products.

Sensory Profile

A sensory Profile can be completed by an Occupational Therapist and interpreted to give you a greater understanding of your unique sensory preferences.

Book an appointment today.


Information on the Adolescent Adult Sensory Profile:


Information on Our Sensory Profiles:

"Living Sensationally: Understanding your Senses" by Winnie Dunn.


* Header Picture is 'Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel 'by Erika Mayer www.erikamayer.com  Facebook site Erika Mayer. Photograph by Carolyn Fitzgibbon

Calm down using your senses.

We can use different sensations to calm down. But what calms one person down, can do the opposite for someone else. There are some examples below of different sensations that may help you to calm down. Make your own list and try to do these things regularly and in particular when you are stressed.

Calm down through what you are seeing:

Look at: Holiday photos, a flower, a vintage car, tall tree, photo of loved ones, Youtube Videos, DVDs eg David Attenborough or Train Journeys, art, books, apps.

Calm down through what you are smelling:

Smell: spices, essential oils, flowers, soaps, herbal tea, food, drinks, the sea, bath oils, shower gels, perfumes, incense, fresh herbs, people we love, chilli, candles, oil burners, fresh baked bread, the rain.

Calm down through what you are hearing:

Listen to: music. nature CDs, the ocean, the wind in the trees, playing of an instrument, voices of friends or family, white noise, birds, trains, rain, wind chimes,humming, whistling, chanting, singing.

Calm down through what you are tasting:

Taste: Strong Mints, Banana smoothie (sucked through a straw), Soup, Rice, Vegetables, Herbal tea, curries, fresh basil, Chocolate, ice cream, fruit, Sour Lollies.

Calm down through movement:

Movement: Hammock, Swinging on a swing, Rocking Chair, Boat, Waterbed, Swimming or floating in the sea. Kayaking, Rocking back and forth, Trampoline, Being in a car or train or bus. Gym Equipment, Walking, Jogging, Skipping, horseriding.

Calm down through touch:

Touch: Massage,  Sun on your skin, wind in your hair, feel of the waves Pajamas heated in the dryer, dressing gown, shawl, fleece blanket, lots of doonas, wheat packs, ice packs, vibrating cushions, vibrating toothbrushes, massage chairs, foot spas

Calm down through pressure:

Feel the: Backpack in your lap, heavy books, a child lying in your arms, yoga, gym weights, backpack on your back. heavy blankets or doona, wheat packs, tightly wrapped shawl, skins compression garments, yoga, pilates, lifting heavy items eg sacks of potatoes.   .


Smoking cigarettes gives you a lot of different sensations. There is sight, taste, smell, hearing, touch (from holding it in your fingers or rolling a cigarette) and vestibular input (the spinning sensation).

Think about which of these sensations you find pleasurable?

  • The taste in your mouth.
  • The hot air in your mouth.
  • The hot air in your lungs.
  • Sucking the cigarette.
  • Hearing the sucking sound.
  • The smell of the smoke
  • Holding the cigarette with your fingers.
  • Rolling the cigarette.
  • The spin
  • The look of a cigarette.

The Sensory Modulation approach to giving up smoking would involve identifying which sensations you find pleasurable or are habits and then replacing them with another sensation. Some people find this approach very successful, and for other people other methods are preferable. Do what is right for you. Below are listed some ideas but it is important to think of something that suits you personally.

Taste:                            Lemon juice, mint, ginger, peanuts, sour lollies, chilli, salty foods, coconut, mandarins.

Heat in mouth:            Ginger, chilli, hot tea, coffee, hot mints, hot food, hot drinks, mouthwash, toothpaste.

Heat in lungs:              Electric cigarettes, incense, turn shower onto hot and breathe in the steam.

Sucking:                      Drinks through a straw, lollies, carrot stick, chuppa chup, beef jerky, smoothie, juice.

Blowing:                       Balloon, straw in cold drink, bubbles,  blow cotton balls or peas across the table.

Hearing:                       Suck through a straw, slurp hot tea or coffee, Breathe loudly making a sucking sound.

Smell:                           Incense, tea tree oil, light a candle, oil burners, herbal tea, essential oils, artificial fires.

Holding and rolling:   fidget with paperclips, phone, bangles, pen, drink of water,  peel peanuts, catch balls,                                          crack pistachios, peel mandarins, shell peas, origami, rubix cube, stress ball, plasticine.

Spin:                            Stand up and spin around, spin on the office chair, swing, roundabout, roll head around.

The look:                     A new piece of jewellery, cuff links, ring, new smart phone, fancy keyring, bottled water.

Preparing to give up:

It is very important to gather the things that you think will help before you start. Then make sure that they are available in a box or bag to take to the places that you normally smoke eg car, office, lounge room.

Dave's Quit Smoking Tool Kit.:  juggling ball and abacus for fiddling with hands, lemon for taste, nutmeg for smell, cards and yo-yo for distraction, balloon to blow into,  trophy as visual reminder that he wanted to give up smoking to be fitter for soccer.

This will become your quit smoking toolkit. It is recommended to use your sensory strategies for 3 - 4 weeks. This is the amount of time that it takes the brain to develop new connections to form a new habit. You can then work out which sensory strategies you need to use for longer.

You are welcome to see Carolyn to identify your own sensory quit smoking tool kit.     

Similar processes can be identified to assist with giving up other drugs or alcohol.


Tina Champagne, Karen Moore, Michelle Taylor, Julie O'Sullivan

Further details on references are pending. (website under development)

































Doing something with hands

Fidget with paperclips, phone, bangles, pen, watch, rubix cube, stress ball, putty, tangle.











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