Sensory Movement Challenge Day 1 – from the ground up

Disclaimer: I am not an expert by any means. Not a therapist, medical or mental health professional. I do not diagnose, treat, or tell people what to do. The main purpose of this website and blog is education and support. If you are unsure how the suggestions and resources here may affect you, please discuss any changes to your existing treatment plan with your medical and mental health providers first.

Ground UP – Feet First, then everything else

Why start from the bottom up? Well, that’s personal to my recovery journey. My physical health goal this year is to feel grounded and stable as I move. Not wobbly and worried about falling all the time.

If you decide to join me on this, you can start anywhere you like. I’ve included 2 specific exercises and 1 general exercise you can try here. Reflection is at the bottom of the post.

Exercise 1: Foot Joint exercise from Dynamic Aging by Kathy Bowman

How to do this

First sit on a chair that allows you to put your feet flat on the ground. For me, this is my adjustable office chair.

*The book suggests a tennis ball or something similar, but I use what I have at home – a wool dryer ball*

With one foot on the ground, roll the ball with your entire foot. I like to start with my toes and toe knuckles; then work my way to the heels.

Sensory Grounding exercise 1: tactile or touch sense as I observe how the grounded foot feels heavy on the carpet; how the carpet feels against my skin.

Sensory Grounding Exercise 2: how my moving foot feels as the ball moves against the muscles and skin. Texture of the ball against my skin

When/where do I do this? At work when I want to feel grounded. Most days, usually in the morning or after lunch.

Exercise 2: Body awareness meditation with foot separators

The small white items on the front left of the chair? Those are toe separators I bought from a running store a few years ago; tried to use for a few days; and then put aside for years because the pain and triggers were not worth the minor changes in my foot health.

Today’s goal: wear them for a few hours and observe my reactions

Sensory Grounding Exercise: How did the toe separators feel on my feet (pain? discomfort? chafing?)? What did they look like against my skin (white, clear, yellowish tint?) and would I notice them if I looked down? Did they make noise as I moved? Would I notice it?

Tools and Options to combine movement with senses

The roller ball (gold cap) has a pain relief massage oil I made last year; I currently use it around my sinuses and forehead because (and this is still odd to me) foot exercise gives me headaches.

The white dryer ball is made of felted wool (1 of a 6 pack from Amazon) that tickles my feet when I use it. But, feels soft against my skin in spite of the texture.

The towel is for tomorrow’s movement challenge – ankles and calf muscles – but I included it here because I’ll be re-using some of these photos for consistency.

Last item in the photo is my aromatherapy diffuser. I use that for a variety of purposes – including sanitizing the air in my apartment with essential oils that have airborne anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, or anti- microbial properties along with relaxing or energizing ones. Plus it smells good.

All day Practice: move items out of boxes and onto shelves

I don’t have photos of this, but let’s just say I’m very slow at moving things and cleaning up right now. The headaches are constant, not just from adding different kinds of movement right now, but also from body memories that get worse this time of year.

The headaches and body memories make me really tired and unfocused. So today, after relaxing, sleeping and listening to the wind whistling outside, I started moving some items out of boxes and onto shelves. Aromatherapy books, angel cards, and tarot deck into the bookshelf in the bedroom. DVD holders into the closet shelf. Clothing on to racks or hampers.

And as I work on each task, I take moments to look at book/container covers, feel each texture, smell the pages, listen to the sounds the items and I make as we move together through my apartment, and finally consider placement on the shelves.

It’s like a moving meditation, but not.

Could be mindfulness exercise if you want to label it that.

But it requires bodies to lift, twist, bend, squat, and MOVE while also being aware of present surroundings and environment.


Moving is hard, especially when I feel overwhelming grief and sadness. It takes a lot of effort to keep going instead of hiding. Sensory grounding coping strategies are part of my every day routine. In talking with my counselor about next steps, she challenged me to use my left brain more often when I feel confused or overwhelmed by sensations.

Balance the emotion with critical thinking and use both to find a middle ground that allows me to problem-solve, i.e. use my coping strategies and techniques.

That is something I struggle with because I feel like I can’t do this on my own when the confusion hits. It requires faith and belief in myself and my progress that I will choose a strategy that is supportive and nurturing instead of destructive and harmful.

Have you ever felt adrenaline and energy burst inside or through you? So much that you feel like you have to DO SOMETHING to get rid of it? And how you choose to get rid of it matters.

That’s what I feel like this time of year. Like there’s a bubble of energy inside me – something larger than myself swallowing me up because I can’t let it out – and it’s stuck because I am caged by fear, shame, and grief about my past.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe not.

Reflection question: what prevents you from moving more, and why?

Love and Rainbows ~ TJ

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