What is Sensehacking?
The internet has sped up the dissemination of new ideas. At times it has hindered truth but it has increased the ability for freedom of speech. As a facility that allows continued communication and connection of entrepreneurs, great thinkers and talented minds alike; ideas and concepts come into fruition at a much faster pace. This has left us, as regular consumers of information via these sources, to have hesitancy over the validity of information. We often see new buzzwords forming trends that reach every corner of the internet but we have to work out whether these are just internet trends or whether they hold a new key to understanding different ways of living and thinking.
Sensehacking has been recently making the rounds and more and more people are talking about it. But what is it, where did it come from and is it a fad, or is it about to change our perceptions and give us the best life possible?
When those trying to sell expensive homes are commissioning scent designers to create synthetic scents that are psychologically more appealing to buyers, this marketing strategy proves there is something to be said for how our senses can be manipulated. Published in September of 2020, Charles Spence’s book Sensehacking: How to Use the Power of Your Senses for Happier, Healthier Living, looks directly at the implications of our responses to scent and how we can change this to enhance our lives.
Who is Charles Spence?
Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, Spence has a keen interest in the way in which people perceive their world. Specifically, his research is focused on how the brain processes sensory information to richly inform our experience of daily life. With this examination and presenting a new understanding of what effects our senses have on our minds, it will change how everything from mobile phones, food products, interior design and everything else we interact with can affect us.
What is the definition of Sensehacking?
'using the power of the senses, and sensory stimulation, to help improve our social, cognitive and emotional well-being'
In Spence’s book, he describes Sensehacking as a way of using our natural inbuilt capabilities of using senses to understand the world to our advantage. By learning how we use senses to understand and navigate the world we can ‘hack’ them to promote a better outlook and healthier lifestyle. By increasing our knowledge of how we receive information from smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch, we can ensure that both the way we respond to receiving this information and also how we physically construct our home environments can positively impact us.
What is sensory overload?
“Our senses have more impact over our well-being than any of us realise,” explains Spence. “The sights, sounds, smells of the environment, both those we are aware of, and those that we are not.”
We’ve talked about the impacts that the busyness of the world has on us and you can find a wealth of ideas and articles in our journal for healthy outlets to soothe the mind. Most of these struggles and weights on the mind are a result of some kind of sensory overload. A sensory overload is simply defined as when all the senses are sending the brain more information than it can process at that moment. We can often notice this overload when we’re trying to concentrate on something and traffic noise from an open window causes us to struggle to focus. In this scenario, we simply close the window to reduce the noise allowing us to resume in an easier way; but sometimes sensory overload isn’t as easy to resolve because we aren’t as in tune with what’s causing the problem but we become restless, uncomfortable and irritable. By being unable to identify the cause and solve it as easily as closing a window, we become a person we don’t recognise and can’t rationalise why we feel this way. The human body and mind have such complex makeups that in combination with other environmental elements it can result in multiple and frequent overloads.
How can we reduce sensory overload with sensehacking?
‘The more of your senses that nature stimulates the better for you it is,” he says. “Hence, I would recommend listening to the sounds of nature rather than your personal music system when you go for a walk.”’
Once we begin to understand the individual stimuli that cause what we see as negative responses to our environment or even begin to learn how our moods are affected by our senses, we can make positive changes. These can include anything from dramatic environment changes in colour and shapes to smaller trials of earplugs during times of deep concentration. The biggest change can be made by understanding how certain stimuli can affect our mental state at any given moment and using this knowledge to direct ourselves into a frame of mind that doesn’t impact the rest of our day. In doing this we can use our knowledge of sensory effect to override a negative stimulus. By introducing elements that provide positive reactions we can begin to train ourselves away from these unhealthy feelings.
Aromatherapy oils have been a remedy for various ailments although our most popular products show a trend in people using them specifically for relaxation. When we think of sensory-hacking we think one of the most powerful tools easily at everyone’s disposal is an aromatherapy mist. Directly targeting your olfactory receptors, it immediately stimulates the smell sense bringing your mind and body onto a different path. We also think the Sleepy Head balms would be an excellent choice for tackling multiple senses. By applying this, even just to the hands you’re affecting both smell and touch senses.
We think that this isn’t just a trend. Professor Spence’s history of investigation into sensory marketing shows just how much of an impact our senses have on our behaviour. With the growing knowledge and the opportunity to keep ourselves educated on this concept, we’re looking forward to seeing the positive impact this could have on those who try it.