Short-Term Sensory Crisis Management
Over the years I have come up with my own protocol to deal with my children’s sensory health crisis. I have learned that my children need to learn their own symptoms and know what they mean in order to not be misdiagnosed by doctors There are many strategies I use in dealing with with immediate crisis. But once the crisis is over I have to think of long-term sustainable strategies, which means introducing slow easy changes that can be incorporated in routines. This is a slow process, including a lot of experimentation, a willingness to observe and listen to my children and myself, and an understanding for each child’s needs. What follows are strategies that worked prior to puberty.
First Aid Detox
The quality of our cells depends on the quality of the nutrients we take in, its ability to absorb the nutrients, and to release its waste. Billions of chemicals and toxins are being released in our air, water and food annually. Highly sensitive children become distressed when toxins overwhelm their immune system and in my family, this means sensitivities will increase. At this point, I always start with a gentle detox. My first line of defense to eliminate toxins include a few strategies:
Breathing and Moving
Breathing is the life sustaining process, even more important than water or food for our survival. Without breath we could not exist for more than a few minutes. Breathing deeply improves the quality of our health and our emotions and to be more fully present in our experiences, centering us so that we can be fully open and available to the opportunities and challenges of our lives.
Every time we breathe, toxins from of environment enter our lungs and are distributed to our cells. Breathing deeply cleanses our system of residual toxins and allows for oxygenated blood to circulate, purify and nourish our body. Deep breathing and fluid motions increases respiration and circulation. As a result improves the flow of lymphatic fluid aiding in the elimination of waste though out the six hundred nodes through out the body. As the organs saturate with fresh blood and fluids, the toxins will circulated and release through the sweat and breath.
A Gentle Bath Detox
Thalassotherapy is an ancient therapy involving immersion into seawater, sea salt and seaweed. It has been used for centuries to promote detoxification. It is known to assist the respiratory system, increase circulation and improve immune response by promoting our own healing mechanism. Epson salts and Sea salts have become a must in our baths. I have found that detoxing bath are very gentle on children and tend to be an effortless way to eliminate a lot of toxins.
According to Melissa Breyer, magnesium is the second most abundant element in human cells and the fourth most important positively charged in in the body. It helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins. Most of us are deficient in magnesium, soaking in a bath with Epsom salt, which is high in magnesium, is one of the easiest ways to get a boost. Epsom salt is rich in both magnesium and sulfate, which can be poorly absorbed through the stomach yet are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. They stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are thought to help detoxify the body of medicines and environmental contaminants.
In “Water and Salt, The Essence of Life,” author Dr. Hendel and biophysicist Peter Ferreira demonstrate the therapeutic connection between Himalayan crystal salt and central nervous system function, sleep patterns, concentration levels and brain activity. Adding sea salt to a bath helps to purify the body. A stressed body tends to be acidic and Sea salt is alkaline and therefore helps to lower the acidity of the body. Sea salt can help with pain and stress relief.
On my child, such a bath will draw out toxins and rashes within hours while other signs of toxicity reduce over night. As with everything related to children, make sure you check for sensitivities or reaction before using epsom salts.
Skin Brushing and Massage
Anxieties and anger or other stress related emotions can be increased by the accumulation of toxins in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is an important part of our cleansing and immune system. White blood cells carry nutrients to cells and remove waste. The lymph flows outside of the circulatory system to bathe, cleanse and restore all of our cells, but it must be returned to the blood vessels to dump its waste. It does this through tiny lymph vessels with one-way valves to the heart. If we don’t move the lymph quickly enough we end up with swollen tissues, particularly in the ankles.
The lymphatic system mirrors our circulation system, with the difference that lymphatic fluid is not pumped through the body like blood. It needs us to be active for the fluid to move. Skin brushing and Massage stimulate blood and lymph flow. A good massage with a calming essential oil such as mandarin, orange and patchouli diluted in massage oil is a great way to help the mind and body relax. Exercise and skin brushing both help to speed the process of clearing the lymphatic system.
I have learned that our moods turn to negative and that we get much more overwhelmed when we are overburdened by chemical reactions to food or other sensitivities. This usually means we need to clean our organs and boost our immune system. A simple detox can make a very big difference. Detoxing means eating simple foods and drink plenty of herbal teas to gently clean organs.
Hydrate the body
I often miss this easiest of steps: drinking a lot of water. We are mostly made of water, when the body is overloaded with toxins, water helps to flush them out of the organs faster. According to nutritionist Meghan Telpner, adequate hydration is vital to maintain steady energy levels, promote healthy digestion, regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, boost immune function and reduce inflammation.
A warm lemon and honey tea in the morning before food will help boost the immune system since lemons are high in vitamin c and potassium. Potassium stimulates brain and nerve function and helps control blood pressure. Warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and lemons and limes are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen toxins in the digestive tract. Lemon juice also helps flush out unwanted materials because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Toxins are, therefore, released at a faster rate, which helps keep your urinary tract healthy. It can help prevent adrenal fatigue also referred to as deep dehydration that leads to toxic build-up and stress, amongst other things. Adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys, and along with the thyroid, create energy. Adrenals are responsible for regulating our stress response.
Turn to real foods
One of the biggest help has been very simple real food. Here are some essentials in my kitchen these days that the kids will actually eat:
Home made broth: I now always have homemade broth in the fridge. Bone broth supplies amino acids that help the body detoxify. It boosts the immune system, aids digestion, increases efficiency of protein use, provides easily digestible minerals, including calcium. A good broth/stock also contains gelatin which has a long list of health benefits, but the most important for our children is that it treats malnutrition and improves bone density.
We use this broth to make soups, to cook rice, quinoa, millet with. It gives it am amazing taste.
Yarrow tea for social discomforts: I discovered the power of Yarrow tea. One tea cup and I am no longer overwhelmed by sensing other people’s emotions. I still sense them but it helps me to not internalize them as my own. It works on my kids too. One drink and my youngest son was not as touch sensitive as before.
An unusual trick is to eat sea salt potatoes chips (with no additives), they are rich in vitamin C . My kids love them and I have found that when they won’t or can’t eat anything this works well and reduces swelling significantly.
I have found that digestive enzymes are key to building a healthier digestive system. I turn to a food supplement that in case of extreme immune deprivation, Vega carries a dairy free food supplement that rebuilds very quickly.
Rebuilding the gut is essential to reduce sensitivities: Digestive enzymes help the immune system stabilize very quickly. Kumbucha tea has been a great way to increase probiotics in the body.
When my child shows signs of distress through rashes I immediately give him a homemade capsule of oil of oregano mixed with vitamin e. It reduces the rash within a day. I have also found that signs of distress indicate too much acidity in our body, I use an aloe base herbal remedy to reduce acidity which reduces anxieties immediately.
Social Detox: My children get anxious when their social life is overwhelming them. I reduce social life and give them plenty of social and emotional rest, which is key to reduce sensitivities. I withdraw them from regular daily activities when they ask or I can see they need a rest. This helps reduce the crisis and create a space to be able to observe and understand what the issues are.
Media Aid: We use a computer or gaming to calm down during period of stress.
Aromatherapy: Scents can gently calm a child very quickly without having to know the cause. People tend to use Lavender as a relaxant. This may work with some children but will not with others. If your child has a hay or wheat allergy or sensitivity, he/she may react to Lavender and/or chamomile as well. Here are some other oils, which can help greatly.
- Sweet Orange is a cheap oil, it calms and balances a child’s emotion.
- Vetiver is very helpful in decreasing sensitivity and anxieties. It is very helpful to reduce anger.
- Frankincense is a powerful social anxiety reducer.
- Bergamot helps with depression.
- Mandarin helps to brighten the mood.
- Lime is a great oil to use when a child is hard on him/herself.
- Basil/Rosemary/Peppermint: help to stimulate the mind and pay attention, this is great for ADHD symptoms.
For the nervous system, patchouli essential oil helps to reduce tension, insomnia and anxiety. It is also know as uplifting fragrance that helps to soothe away everyday cares, and to bring about a sense of nourishment.
I mixed 2 drops of sweet orange, 2 drops of oil of oregano and 1 drop of patchouli in 7 ml of coconut fractioned oil base that is none greasy. I massage my son’s feet. Results: The next day, my son who has been having bad dreams had slept very well, he woke up in an awesome mood, which he had not done for a long time.
Anxiety reducing strategies:
It is crucial for highly sensitive children to learn how to breathe properly. Breathing deeply is the first step in developing a healthy relationship with the body. Using a quick and easy breathing technique can help you to restore a calming pattern of breathing.
A helpful strategy when anxiety or other negative emotions arise is to follow these four simple steps:
- Inhale deeply through your nose.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Slowly let your breath out through your lips while making a slight sound—hissing, sighing, or whatever comes naturally.
- Repeat steps 1 through 3 for a minimum of ten breaths.
Emotional and empathic stress is a very real, yet invisible problem. As Marion Dionne explains: “energy, whether positive or negative, roams around your body looking for an exit. Without finding one it builds up like hot air in a balloon, creating pressure and powerful symptoms. Giving your energy something to do will help to keep you calm by push it outward in positive activities. We Highly Sensitive People share characteristics with those considered psychic and easily pick up on the vibrations of other people, things and places. It is common to become overloaded and overwhelmed with your own or another’s emotions, pain, and problems. These kinds of sensitivities, often misunderstood, can lead to anxiety attack and avoidance behaviors.”
Physically, I have learned that there is a certain “body” coma that can emerge from stress. As a child and an adult, my body can become paralyze by too much stress. The hormonal changes exhaust me to the point of not being able to move. I have seen the same happen to me mentally. He cannot think after a stressful episode. Of course, the less we move, the more toxins remain in the body. The adrenal system which contains stress toxins is unique in that it needs physical activity to remove waste. If we keep still, toxins accumulate which in term make us more sensitive to sound, smells, touch, etc.
When a crisis happens, think about what has happened over a few days. Any new environment, routine, food, toy, book, assignment at school, argument with friends? IS anyone in your children’s environment going through something difficult or angry? This is one I still struggle with.
Learning to watch for patterns that relate cause and effects in your child is helpful. Media can be a trigger of stress as well, so can chemical in the airs, really anything in the environment.
Sensory detox: When stress is on the rise, increasing time spent in a natural setting, a forest or a park and/or sensory diet exercises can do wonders.