It's important to be able to identify what things in your environment are good for you (eustressors) and those that are unhealthy (distressors). We should look at the effect the environment has on us by examining the environment's impact through our senses. Below are some common sources of distress within each of our senses and some ways in which to combat them:

Sources of Distress:

I. Visual:

    1. Glare - light can bounce of reflective objects in all directions causing much eye strain. This can be reduced by wearing polarized sunglasses.

    2. Colors - different colors have different effects which is why most companies use certain colors to appeal to certain populations of people. Colors can be intimidating, annoying, or relaxing. Whenever there is a wide variety of colors presented at one time, sensory overload can also occur.

    3. Patterns - combinations of multiple patterns can be over stimulating when viewed all at once.

    4. Multiple - many different combinations of colors and patterns can cause even more stress than colors or patterns alone.

II. Sound

    1.Volume - sounds that are too loud can damage the ears and cause pain.

    2. Frequencies - certain frequencies can increase energy or relax. Some frequencies can make us feel bad and adversely affect our mood.

    3. Radio/TV/auto/nature, etc. - certain common, every day sources of sounds can be distressing as well as relaxing.

    4. Multiple - when exposed to multiple sounds at different frequencies or sound levels, we can be adversely affected.

III. Smell

    1. Body odors - not all body odors have to be considered foul to cause distress. A smell that's harmless to one person can be annoying to another.

    2. Perfumes - most chemical perfumes are toxins despite their sometimes appealing smell. Prolonged exposure to a perfume or multiple perfumes   can be distressing and unhealthy.

    3. Chemical/pollutants - everything from household chemicals to auto exhaust to factory waste can be toxic. This includes the "new product" smells that come with new cars, clothes, etc.

    4. Multiple - when you combine the above smells throughout the day, you are exposing yourself to many toxins.

IV. Taste

    1. Foods - foods don't have to be spoiled to be a problem. Sometimes mixing too many flavors can be distressing.

    2. Chemical/pollutants - pollution does not enter the body only by breathing vapors. It enters through non-organic foods, fingers, and other contaminated objects be put in our mouths.

    3. Illness - when we are sick, our sense of taste is often altered which can make food noxious.

    4. Multiple - poor health, combined with contaminated foods and ingesting various chemicals and pollutants can have a cumulative effect.

V. Touch

    1. Clothes - certain fabrics can cause irritation. A variety of fabric textures can cause an overload of sensory stimulation.

    2. Furniture - we sit or lay on a variety of furniture types that all have a different feel some of which can be distressing.

    3. Textures - everything that we touch has a certain feel. The more textures that we come in contact with, the more sensory stimulation our brain receives. This can be pleasant or distressing.

    4. Multiple - We must touch something 24 hours a day, even while sleeping so our brains never stop processing what we feel whether good or bad.








Sources of Eustress:

I. Visual

    1. Color therapy - find a color that is appealing and focus your gaze on it whenever possible to help reduce sensory input and relax you or produce the desired effect.

    2. Imagery - the more vividly you can picture something in your mind, the stronger you react to it. Picture pleasant things in detail. 

    3. Sunning - close your eyes and look towards the sun. Move your head around while keeping your face aimed in the direction of the sun. This is very stimulating and relaxing. NEVER look directly at the sun.

    4. Relax eyes - focus on an object 10' away and then in front of you five times. Repeat several times a day. Shift your eyes left to right several times as fast as you can without moving your head. Repeat several times a day. Focus your eyes on 10 different objects in 10 seconds by scanning the area around you.

II. Sound

    1. Adjust volume - find the volume that helps you achieve the desired result. For example, putting the radio on a low volume may help you block out other distracting sounds that interfere with concentration.

    2. Imagery - use sounds alone or with visual imagery to help achieve relaxation. Your brain remembers all familiar sounds.

    3. Attention - close your eyes to shut out other sensory input and pay attention to the sound. Identify inflections in voice or try to single out a single sound. What does that aspect tell you about what= s going on?

    4. Reduce exposure - identify and eliminate as many undesired sounds as you can at home or work. 

III. Smell

    1. Aromatherapy - use essential oils and other natural sources of pleasing odors to induce relaxation or the desired effect.

    2. Imagery - incorporate smells whenever appropriate when using imagery.

    3. Sniffing - several small sniffs helps you detect odors better. As you sniff, keep your mouth open.

    4. Reduce exposure - identify undesirable odors, eliminate them, and replace them with either neutral or desired smells.

IV. Taste

    1. Consume pure foods - take the time to recognize and enjoy tastes.

    2. Imagery - use taste whenever possible to enhance the power of imagery.

    3. Cleanse mouth - between meals, chew crackers or matzo and sip distilled water.

    4. Chew thoroughly - take the time to chew all foods thoroughly, mixing well with saliva before swallowing. 

V. Touch

    1. Wear natural clothes - they contain less irritants or toxins and generally have a more desirable feel.

    2. Use comfortable furniture.

    3. Massage - therapeutic massage is always healthy and relaxing. Even gentle touch is pleasing.

    4. Sensate focus - focus on what you are touching. Try whole body touching. Be aware of temperature.

From The Wellness Handbook 8 by Dr. David Hopper. All Rights Reserved.