Too cold to go outside? While that depends on where you live (lucky you if not!), weather conditions that are too cold, too hot, or too rainy can keep most of us indoors, which can be bad news for our sensory diets. However, worry not, for we at Experia USA have 8 winter sensory diet must-dos that will keep everyone in tip-top sensory shape this winter. You won't need a lot of space, just some motivation and perhaps a bit of planning! These tips are ideal for those with sensory processing disorder, Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, or ADHD, but can be enjoyed by all.
Be Art Smart
Art comes in so many forms, from traditional paint, crayons, and markers on a flat surface, to 3D tactile art used in room decorating, decoupage, mosaics, jewelry making, and even cooking. You can use art regularly as a form of fine motor work, but also for communication and as part of a joy toolbox. Art honestly transcends all ages, and even viewing art alone can be a participation activity. Creativity is a high-functioning sport that not only connects us to ourselves, but to each other.
Up, Up and Away
Whether you know it or not, your body craves motion, and finding tools to stimulate your sense of balance can help improve cognition, memory, focus, and coordination. Items such as swings, balance balls and beams, rocking boards, or even soft matting to walk on can provide a great balance workout for the body and the brain.
Find Your Sensory Spa
Multisensory rooms are a favorite year-round, and when used regularly can provide tremendous benefit to individuals with neurological differences. You can even create a winter theme using projectors to cast images onto the walls. Interactive equipment provides movement, sensory processing, and motor planning all in the comfort of an indoor area. And for rainy or cold days, a sensory room can have a similar effect as a day outside would.
Cooks in the Kitchen
Winter is a great time to get into the kitchen! Choose something simple and hands-on like pizza, making bread, baking a cake; anything that requires heavy handwork. Alternatively, attempt something more involved that requires prolonged focus and attention. Culinary time improves memory, focus, olfactory responses, and digestion, so don’t wait on this one; plan a dish or a meal and go for it!
Exercise is a great warm-up for the body and beneficial for your overall health. Yoga can be done right in your den, bedroom, basement, or living room- no matter what the weather is like outside. Find some good music, a mat or carpeted area, and try out a downward facing dog, warrior one, or child’s pose just to get started. You might even get addicted!
Hum A Little Tune
Making music can take on so many forms, from playing an instrument, to singing, to creating digital music, to listening to interactive music with sound. Music needs no explanation as to its benefits, but regular exposure can do wonders for the mind. And while you’re at it, try to dance along to the rhythm to get your whole body involved. You can add in some slippery socks, dance shoes, or rhythmic instruments to make your music session a full body experience. Throw in some gel tiles and make it a sensory-motor experience too!
Clean Up Day
Don’t like chores? Well guess what? They’re good for you! Chores are much like a workout, with discipline and reward. They also teach responsibility and contribution. Winter is a great time to clean out the basement, garage, or that closet you’ve been ignoring. Just watch the time slip by and before you know it, your space may well have been transformed! You can also add in some chores like vacuuming, sweeping, and window washing to get a great upper body winter workout! Throw on some music while you're at it for extra motivation.
Winter can be hard on the body, as well as the mind, so make sure to be smart and take good care of yourself, with plenty of hydration, a good sensory diet, joy, and exercise. Winter is a good time for a check-up too. Stay healthy this winter and don’t forget to enjoy time outdoors when you can! If you're preferring to stay inside, keep reading our blog for plenty more tips on how to better your sensory self.