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My Three Month Review of Using Sensate to Manage Anxiety
I was kindly gifted the Sensate 2 in October 2022 and at the time, I knew very little about this much raved-about device.
I’ll admit that when I therefore opened the sleek looking box containing this small, pebble shaped gadget, I was a little cynical about whether it would – or could – do much at all.
Could the Sensate 2 really help improve my mental health? It seemed so little, so benign, so pretty – how could it help tackle the monster that is my anxiety?
Having already written an overarching review of the Sensate 2, I wanted to provide an update on how the last 3 months have gone, using the Sensate to help my anxiety.
Writing this in January also seems particularly fitting, especially as this is when we start to give a little more thought to our self-care routine.
Personally, I truly believe that by using the Sensate everyday, I’ve allowed myself to slow down, to take some deep breaths and to regularly release the anxieties and stresses of my day. Well-versed in living life on fast-forward – juggling a job, childcare and frequent travel – self-care hasn’t been part of my daily routine for a long time. Much of this is down, of course, to the fact that I’ve been that typical ‘new Mum’, who does very little to fill up their own cup.
However, the Sensate 2 has (thankfully) been instrumental in correcting this, making my life feel a little more balanced and calm.
Below is an honest review of the last 3 months and how regularly using my Sensate has helped my anxiety and overall mental health. A small, yet powerful, device – the Sensate 2 provides me with that daily reminder that I must prioritise my mental health and carve out 10 minutes a day to myself.
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Why I Started to Use Sensate to Manage My Anxiety
This didn’t come as a huge surprise – I’d struggled with anxiety over the years. Fortunately, I started antidepressants and counselling pretty quickly and things improved within just a few months (and for that I consider myself very lucky).
Fast forward to October 2022, and now feeling much happier and content with life, I decided to wean off my medication and put together a ‘mental health toolkit’ for managing my stress levels. As the mum of a toddler, my previous toolkit (which included plenty of sleep and time to exercise) was now somewhat redundant, and so I began to research other tools to take their place.
That’s how I came across the Sensate 2.
In a nutshell, Sensate is an infrasound resonance device that’s designed to tone you vagus nerve. This is the cranial nerve that connects your brain with your gut and is responsible for, among many other things, your body’s response to stress.
Paired with the Sensate app, which provides soundscapes that sync with the infrasound resonance that the device emits, the Sensate sends soothing, undulating vibrations through your sternum (chest bone) – in turn activating and toning your powerful vagus nerve.
Just imagine a purring cat laying on your chest – that’s the closest you’ll get to what a Sensate feels like in action.
The science behind all this may sound complicated, but essentially as a user of the Sensate 2, all you need to do is place the device on your sternum, lay back with some headphones in and relax for 10 – 30 minutes. Easy.
As a busy Mum, this definitely sounded like the type of device I needed in my everyday life and I couldn’t wait to start using it.
Do I Use Sensate Every Day?
It did take some time to settle into a consistent routine with my Sensate 2.
I did initially try using it around lunchtime, having read that it helped energy levels when paired with a quick power nap. As I work in an office 3 days a week, however, I found that fitting it into my working week was difficult.
Instead, I moved to using the Sensate at bedtime, after reading my book. This move was a game changer. Over the last 3 months, using the Sensate 2 at bedtime has become part of my everyday routine – I usually listen to a 30-minute track, which helps send me into a deep, super relaxed, sleep.
If I’m working from home, I will often do a quick 10-minute session at lunch time (if I’m in need of quick pick-me-up). Despite often being tired in the day, I can struggle to nap at lunchtime (presumably because my mental to-do list is ticking away in the background). However, I find that when I use the Sensate 2, my busy brain instantly shuts down and I’m able to enjoy a brief, but really refreshing, sleep.
Does Sensate Help Improve Sleep?
Like many, my anxiety has always been far worse if I don’t get enough sleep.
This is somewhat of an issue as I happen to have a small child, and rarely benefit from the prescribed 8-9 hours sleep a night. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve reached the heady heights of 8 hours sleep for at least 2 years.
Anxiety around these sleepless nights was actually one of the biggest catalysts for my postnatal anxiety (and prenatal anxiety, in fact), and managing my self-care around sleep is therefore now more important than ever.
Although Sensate can’t (alas) magically gift me a child that sleeps better, it has been instrumental in ensuring I fall asleep faster – and the sleep that I do get is restful and not punctured with rising anxiety.
Of course, my improved sleep is also due to other factors, including the fact I’m finally making myself exercise regularly, but the Sensate 2 has nonetheless forced me to look at my bedtime routine and improve it for the better.
I no longer stay downstairs in the evenings until bedtime, watching TV or aimlessly scrolling my phone. Instead, I aim to be in bed by 9pm, so that I can read for a while, before turning on my Sensate 2 for a 30-minute ‘deep sleep’ session.
This routine will usually see me asleep by 10pm.
I also use the Sensate to get me back to sleep, if I’ve been woken in the night by my toddler. Before trialling the Sensate, I’d often get anxious in the middle of the night about the fact I was awake. Predictably, I’d therefore really struggle to get back to sleep. The Sensate 2 has been incredibly useful in keeping me calm during those lonely twilight hours; allowing me drift back to sleep again in no time.
Has Sensate 2 Helped My Resilience to Stress?
The science behind Sensate suggests that by toning the vagus nerve, individuals can improve their overall stress resilience.
Like any muscle in the body, the more toned the vagus nerve, the more effective it is at doing its job. This means being able to quickly and effectively switch between the body’s sympathetic (the bad guy) and parasympathetic (the good guy) nervous systems – removing you from your state of panic and delivering a sense of calm.
Looking back over the last 3 months, I do feel more in control of my reaction to stress. I feel less likely to fly into a state of sheer anxiety and if I’m having a day that feels testing or stressful, the tell-tale signs of intense stress are now pretty rare.
This is quite the accolade, given the fact that I often find myself battling a tantrum-throwing toddler in public spaces.
However, and although Sensate has supported my calmer state, I don’t believe that it’s wholly responsible for this calmer version of myself. I’ve also made many daily lifestyle modifications, ensuring I ultimately have more time for self-care (including buying myself a treadmill so that I can exercise regularly).
Indeed, after many years of looking after my mental health, I would say that there’s no ‘magic bullet’ for managing anxiety. I do believe, however, that the Sensate 2 makes for a truly brilliant ‘tool’ to add to your overall mental health toolkit.
Using Sensate to Manage Fear of Flying
As I mentioned in the opening of my review of using Sensate to manage anxiety, I fly fairly frequently. Ironically, despite being a travel blogger, flying is something that causes me a lot of anxiety.
I was therefore really excited to try the Sensate to help manage my fear of flying when I recently travelled to Iceland and Seville. I decided to use it predominantly during take-off to help put me in a relaxed state and I definitely believe that it helped to transport me to a little ‘bubble’ of calm.
I was a little worried that the Sensate wouldn’t work as effectively while I was flying – as I wasn’t lying down in a calming space – but I simply put the lanyard around my neck (that comes with the Sensate 2) and held it to my chest bone. The session seemed just as effective in a public space as it would be at home and as a result, and take-off happened without any huge surges in anxiety (hurray).
I also use the Sensate when travelling more generally, using it as part of my bedtime routine to help me drift off in a new environment. It really does feel like something that anchors me to home and helps me sleep better when I’m in a different bed.
Using Sensate to Manage Anxiety: Has it Really Helped?
So, the real question: has Sensate helped me to manage my anxiety over the last 3 months?
When I began trialling the Sensate 2 back in October 2022, I was prompted to completely re-evaluate my self-care routine and admit to myself the lack of time I was spending on my mental health.
Since then, the Sensate 2 has transformed my nightly routine, encouraging me to trade unhealthy amounts of screen time and late nights for screen-free evenings filled with reading and, of course, 30 minutes of meditative relaxation thanks to my beloved Sensate 2.
The infrasound vibrations instantly calm my nervous system and help promote quality sleep, which is crucial for my mental health. After 3 months of using Sensate to manage anxiety, my nervous system ultimately feels calmer and I feel discernibly more confident that I can manage life’s stresses.
As a new Mum, juggling many plates, this is more than I could have hoped for from this clever little device.