Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are a very effective way of changing how you think. We actually use affirmations all the time, but unfortunately the affirmations we typically use consist of negative self talk. Before you roll your eyes because this is too “touchy-feely”, you should know that this is the scientific process of neurolinguistics. To practice positive affirmations:

  • Choose something you would like to change. This might be a behavior or even some way your body is responding to external input.
  • Think about what you want instead. Let’s say you typically feel quite agitated. What you want instead is to feel calm and peaceful.
  • Using present tense and personalizing the statement, create a phrase that states what you do want. Example: I am calm and peaceful. My muscles and nerves are relaxing.

This must be positive and in the present tense. I know I already said that, but this is the critical component. Don’t say, “I will be calm and peaceful.” You want your brain to take action on what you want. If you tell it “I am…something”, it will kick into gear to make that true. If you tell it “I will…something”, it doesn’t have immediate relevancy and will stay sometime out in the future.

Deep Pressure

Use a weighted blanket or a large folded blanket (to make it “weighty” in feeling), make a shawl or lap blanket. The consistent pressure and consistent temperature, allows the nerves to calm their responses.

Heavy lifting

  • Use a weighted ball, a free weight or a safe but heavy household object.
  • Hold between your hands with hand pressure directed to gently squish the ball.
  • Elbows are bent and the ball is at chest level.
  • Slowly perform a partial squat by lowering and bending from the knees so you lower your body roughly 10 inches.
  • Raise back up again.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Variation: Spring back up quickly, raising arms and weighted ball overhead.

Movement and Vestibular Input

Using a dynamic standing surface, such as an Infinity 8 Board (see product section), or a dynamic sitting surface, such as an exercise ball, feel how little movement it requires to actually change your relationship with gravity. Just a tiny tip too much to the left has your head and upper body shifting right to adjust and maintain upright control. Was that strategy conscious or sub-conscious? Become aware of how your body responds to shifting to the left, right, front, and back. Slowly explore the perimeter of your comfortable range of movement without losing your balance. Try to have someone “spot” you, or be very slow and careful as you test your balance responses.

Tactile

Fidgets

  • Keep a fidget near you at all times. A marble in your pocket, a small square of crinkly paper or a set of keys.
  • Have a range of fidgets at your work desk and near where you sit to watch the news or movies.
  • Resistive putty is very popular as an at-home fidget and surprisingly engaging for many people. As a “stress-buster”, yes, but the resistive putty helps strengthen the hands and fingers for better coordination for fast writing or typing. (You can find therapy grade resistive putty HERE.)

Textures

  • Rub textured materials across the skin for a 10-minute period twice daily to help desensitize the skin.
  • Textures such as felt, Velcro, terry cloth, cotton balls, and burlap can be sequenced in degrees of irritation.
  • Use a texture that you rate as “slightly irritating” and gradually progress yourself to the “most irritating”.
  • The progressing may take days or weeks until the most irritating texture is tolerated. Take your time.

Reduce Sensitivity
Another strategy that has been proven to decrease over-sensitivity is to immerse your hands in containers filled with objects such as macaroni. A 3-pound coffee, or something similar, can be filled with particles such as cotton balls, terry cloth pieces, dry rice, popcorn kernels, pinto beans, elbow macaroni, buckshot, or plastic squares.

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Suzanne Cresswell Administrator
Suzanne Cresswell is an occupational and physical therapist who has worked with unique learners for over three decades. Suzanne works to educate and provide proven solutions and strategies to those that parent, instruct and work with unique learners. By creating an understanding of unique learners and their learning behavior, she helps parents, teachers and the students themselves find the ability in learning disability.
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