Why do we hug each other when we’re sad? Why do we hug each other when we’re happy? Why does a massage feel soooooooo good? Why does it feel nice to get under a pile of covers?
There are so many occasions in our daily lives where we seek the comfort of deep pressure. Hugs, blankets, massages. Some people like it more than others and some people do it more than others, but it is a natural instinct in humans to seek out deep pressure in some form or another. So what is it about the weight of an outside force on us?
1. Weighted objects provide deep pressure
Deep pressure is one form of tactile input. And tactile input is pressure on our hair, skin, and sub-tissue from an outside force. It is one of our sensory systems and just like all our other systems it is responsible for us functioning in our daily lives. All our systems help us detect, discriminate, and respond to sensory input. They also help us physically move our bodies and regulate our emotions. That’s a lot of jobs and each one is incredibly important!
Looking for something extra? We recommend the sensory weighted neck pillow. Discover why it's the perfect plush toy for your kid.
Weighted Neck Pillow. Did you know that a weighted nect pillow doubles as a sensory tool and plush toy for your kids? It wraps perfectly around the neck to help calm the nerves and give that added comfort to your child. It is comforting to the shoulder and rests on pressure points in the shoulder for relaxation. Learn more about the weighted neck pillows benefits on Amazon.
2. The weight on our skin helps to releases dopamine and serotonin in our brain
Life is full of ups and downs, and we constantly have to navigate our way through daily life. Our goal is to try to feel “OK” physically, emotionally, mentally during the day. And getting deep pressure is one of those things that helps us do that.
When our skin gets pressed, it releases dopamine and serotonin in our brain. These are two chemicals that help us regulate our emotions and organize our brain. Deep pressure also lowers any cortisol that might be in our brains. Cortisol is a chemical that is used when in a stressful situation. It is high octane fuel used to help us deal with threats. It’s great to have when our kid gets close to the road, or we hit the brakes in a close call while driving. But some people have difficulty turning that cortisol off. Deep pressure can help us when our minds can’t do it. Deep pressure is often used for people with neurological disorders or even traumatic brain injury and even Alzheimer’s.
We recommend the Write-N-Chill Weighted Lap Pad. You can get it on Amazon here.
Write-N-Chill Weighted Lap Pad. We revolutionized the way the traditional weighted lap pad looks and functions. By using a specialized texture that kids can write on using an awesome water pen, the Write-N-Chill creates a deeper sense of connection with the kid allowing them to have the most fun experience possible.
3. Heavy weight or compression can help us keep a calm and organized mind.
Deep pressure comes in two different forms. Heavy weight on us or compression. Using things like weighted objects on our laps or shoulders periodically during the day can help us keep a calm and organized mind. If we are getting into more of a high alert, we can also use weighted objects to help deal with the stressful situation we may be in.
Some people like compression. This is another form of deep pressure. Weighed objects can only cover some parts of the body. Whereas something like compression clothing can cover the entire body.
4. Using weighted blankets or compression sheets at night can help with sleep
Using things like weighted blankets, weighted lap pillows, neck pillows, and compression periodically during the day can be added to anyone’s sensory diet. This is being proactive and is allowing a person to maintain a calmer nervous system throughout the day. They can also be used if a person is becoming more upset, anxious, dysregulated, or even display unorganized thinking. Using weighted blankets or compression sheets at night can also help with sleep.
5. Deep pressure through weighted products can help with body awareness
Deep pressure can also help with body awareness. Some of struggle to know where our body is in space. This can be a very uneasy feeling and can make us anxious. It also makes it difficult to organize our minds when we have little body awareness. So, when we put weight or compression on our bodies and we move, we feel the resistance of that force and now we know where our body is. This is both comforting and organizing to the mind.
How do you choose the right weighted products?
There are many benefits to using weighted objects during the day. It is an easy tool to use but it also takes a bit of experimentation.
When choosing how much weight it’s always good to start out with 5% of a person’s body weight. Some people like less, some people like more. Other things to take into consideration are texture, color of the object, and where it is placed on the body. Forcing a person to use weighted objects is never the answer. By forcing someone to do something they don’t want (especially if there are sensory issues) this puts a person in a state of fight, flight, or freeze and counter acts the whole purpose of using the weighted object.
Lakikid makes some excellent neck pillows and weighted lap pads that are easy to use at school, at work, or at home. Check out some of these weighted products!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founder of Sensory Fitness. As an occupational therapy assistant, personal trainer, and special education teacher Matt Sloan has directed his experience into specialized fitness programs for everyone while catering to sensory difficulties, neurodiversity, or any special need. Matt also brings sensory education and strategies to educators, parents, fitness professionals, and anyone working with a sensory difficulties to provide sensory strategies, create sensory friendly environments, and promote the importance of movement in learning and everyday activities.