Tropical Vacations for All 5 Senses


Right about this time every year, I wish I could take a tropical vacation. Leave the winter heaviness behind. Air out the dark corners of my mind. You know…get a tan.

The month of February is also typically one where we express our love to others, thanks to Valentine’s Day smack-dab in the middle. How about this year we make a commitment to love ourselves? Practice a little self-care, even if we can’t hop on the next plane to Tahiti.

Did you ever consider that you can take care of yourself through all five of your senses? Marsha Linehan has written “crisis survival strategies” of all sorts.* Below I’ve adapted her short lists for each sense. I’m going to commit to practicing at least one per day for the entire month of February.


Small indulgences can make any day a bit lovelier.
Small indulgences shared are lovelier still.

How about you? What are your favorite self-care strategies and indulgences? Share them in the comments below!


Self Care…

Notice the details.

Notice the details.

With Vision:

Buy one beautiful flower; make one space in a room pretty; light a candle and watch the flame. Set a place at the table, using your best things for a meal. Go to a museum with beautiful art. Go sit in the lobby of a beautiful old hotel. Look at nature around you. Really LOOK. Go out in the middle of the night and watch the stars. Walk in a lovely part of town. Look at beautiful pictures in a book. Go to a ballet or other dance performance, or on TV. Be mindful of each sight that passes in front of you, not lingering on any.

With Hearing:

Listen to the quiet hum of the morning.

Listen to the quiet hum of the morning.

Listen to beautiful or soothing music, or to invigorating and exciting music. Pay attention to sounds of nature (waves, birds, rainfall, leaves rustling). Really LISTEN. Sing to your favorite songs. Hum a soothing tune. Learn to play an instrument. Call a friend to hear a human voice. Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, letting them go in one ear and out the other




When was the last time you ACTUALLY stopped and smelled the roses?

When was the last time you ACTUALLY stopped and smelled the roses?

With Smell:

Use your favorite perfume or lotions, or try them on in the store; spray fragrance in the air. Light a scented candle. Put lemon oil on your furniture. Put potpourri in a bowl in your room. Boil cinnamon, bake cookies, cake, or bread. Smell the roses. Really SMELL them. Walk in a wooded area and be aware of breathing in the fresh smells of nature.

With Taste:



Have a good meal; have a favorite soothing drink such as herbal tea or hot chocolate; treat yourself to a dessert. Put whipped cream on your coffee. Sample flavors in an ice cream store. Suck on a piece of peppermint candy. Chew your favorite gum. Get a little bit of a special food you don’t usually spend the money on, such as fresh-squeezed orange juice. Really TASTE the food you eat; eat one thing mindfully,



Feel the warmth.

Feel the warmth.

With Touch:

Take a bubble bath; put clean sheets on the bed. Pet your dog or cat. Have a massage; soak your feet. Put a cold compress on your forehead. Sink into a really comfortable chair in your home, or find one in a luxurious hotel lobby. Allow yourself to cry. Really FEEL. Put on a silky blouse, dress, or scarf. Brush your hair for a long time. Hug someone. Experience whatever you are touching; notice touch that is soothing.

*From Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan. ©1993 The Guilford Press.

All images author’s own. 

1 Comment

  1. Katie February 4, 2014 Reply

    This is such a beautiful piece, Cath! Thank you for this much-needed reminder to look after myself, and for sharing such simple ways to do that better.

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