Sensory Breaks: How to sneak in Sensory Breaks Throughout Your Day

 For children with sensory processing issues, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of daily life. Incorporating regular sensory breaks into a daily schedule can provide a minute, or ten, to rejuvenate their minds and bodies, and help them stay calm and in control. 


But, when a child is at school, or in the middle of household chores or an important dinner, for example, it’s a little harder to take a break without being disruptive. Though sensory breaks are never a waste of time, if we’re already rushing, it’s rare we can dedicate the necessary time to care for our child’s sensory needs. 


So, in this post, we’ll be diving into practical ways you can sneak in sensory breaks throughout your day. As well as finding out how these breaks prevent overload and help keep your child relaxed, we’ve also got some great examples of easy sensory breaks and activities you can do as and when you need to.


Let’s dive in…

Why Are Sensory Breaks so Important?


There are several reasons why taking sensory breaks should be an important part of your day. These short pauses, designed to engage and soothe your child’s senses, play a crucial role in maintaining both mental and physical well-being. They:


Reduce Stress


Even for those without sensory difficulties, taking regular breaks is important to keep calm throughout the day. The same goes for those with sensory processing issues; sensory breaks are powerful stress-relievers.


By giving your child a moment to themselves, they can relax and let go of any distractions that may be contributing to their stress.


Improve Focus and Productivity


As mentioned, sensory breaks allow you to take a moment away from any distractions. This helps renew cognitive resources, meaning when your child returns to their tasks or chores, they’ll be ready to concentrate on exactly what they’re doing.


Regular sensory breaks will prevent a declining attention span, and they’re especially important if you’re tackling a big project that will take up a lot of their time.


Regulate Emotions


Becoming overwhelmed can play havoc with your child’s emotions. It’s much easier to become angry, upset or exhausted when you have to deal with sensory overload on top of existing tasks.


It’s important to take sensory breaks so your child stays in control of their emotions and returns to their tasks in a good mood. After all, it’s much easier to get stuff done if you’re feeling happy and motivated.


Enhance Mindfulness


Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the current moment. As well as helping us to appreciate what’s going on around us, it contributes to a sense of calm and appreciation for ourselves.


Sensory breaks are built around engaging the senses and concentrating on a few activities or objects. This is why they work so well with mindfulness, and can help your child feel grounded and appreciative.


Aid Relaxation


Finally, the least surprising benefit of taking sensory breaks is that they’ll help your child relax. But sensory breaks don’t just work well for mental relaxation. They can also help your child ward off physical symptoms of sensory overload.


Simple activities like stretching, deep breathing or a sensory walk will reduce tension and help your child feel physically comfortable, especially if they’re then expected to stay still for a long time.

How Sensory Breaks Help Regulate You

Next, let’s dive a little deeper into the science behind sensory breaks. Sensory breaks lead to:





The Best Daily Sensory Breaks and Activities


It’s vital to recognize the signs of oncoming sensory overload and encourage a sensory break before things become too much. This is why sneaking breaks in throughout the day is so important. So, how do you find the time?


Well, though you might not realize it yet, your child likely already has some opportunities for sensory breaks built into their day. For example, homework time, playtime, rest time, and mealtimes all provide opportunities to complete sensory activities. This gives your child a sensory break without them even realizing it, and is known as a ‘sensory diet’.


  1. Sensory Diet Activities


The activities that make up your child’s sensory diet will be tied to the specific portions of their day that you choose to incorporate sensory breaks into. Here are some ideas:




  • Wheelbarrow walking
  • Animal walking
  • Therapy balls
  • Dancing and spinning
  • Crawling
  • Sensory swings
  • Jumping jacks, cartwheels and somersaults




  • New foods and old favorites
  • Crunchy and crispy foods
  • Slurping soup
  • Drinking through a straw
  • ‘Smelly’ food
  • Sour or spicy food
  • ‘Chewables’


Rest Time


  • Weighted blankets
  • A choice of stuffed toys
  • Massage and deep pressure activities
  • Lava lamps and mobiles
  • Sensory swings (gentle swaying)


Homework/Learning Time


  • Sensory seating
  • Textured and colored pencils
  • Weighted lap pad
  • Flash cards and ‘This or That’ game
  • Classical music
  • Painting
  • ‘Sit down’ game
  • Question ball


Though a sensory diet gives you an opportunity to add subtle sensory breaks throughout your daily schedule, sometimes it works well to remove your child from their current environment and its unique sensory stimuli.


  1. Break Spaces


Designating a room in your home for a sensory break will allow your child to explore, engage and regulate their senses in a controlled and comforting environment. You might like to fill your sensory break space with:


  • Sensory bins filled with your child’s favorite sensory toys and objects
  • Flexible seating such as bean bags and rocking chairs
  • Sensory swings for full body support and proprioceptive stimulation
  • Mobiles, decals and bubble tubes for visual stimulation
  • A quiet corner with cushions and blankets for rest time
  • Essential oil diffusers or scented toys for aromatherapy
  • Soothing sounds and music, such as from a white noise machine or child-friendly headphones


Of course, sometimes you might not be at home or in a place with a dedicated spot for sensory breaks. To avoid improvisation, sensory overload and panic, create a ‘sensory bag’ that you can take with you when you travel.


  1. Sensory Bags


The idea behind sensory bags is that they’re filled with portable sensory objects, used to encourage a sensory break no matter where you are. Long car rides or dinners at grandma’s house, though unusual, can become part of a sensory diet and are the perfect places to sneak in sensory breaks. Your sensory bag might include:


  • A textured cushion to put on chairs at family members’ houses
  • Noise canceling headphones for auditory relief in public
  • Fidget objects such as stress balls and tangle toys
  • A kaleidoscope for convenient visual stimulation in an unchanging environment
  • Schedule cue cards to help children during travel
  • A weighted lap pad or plush toy for deep pressure input
  • A water bottle with built-in straw


Portable sensory objects are also great to give to your child if they’re ever away from you. For example, their teachers likely know about their unique sensory needs, so let them or your child know that they can be given a sensory break whenever they feel it appropriate. Place their favorite fidget toy in their bag, with a clear name tag. This will also help your child feel in control of their sensory break.


In Conclusion…


Sneaking sensory breaks into your child’s daily schedule is crucial for their physical and mental well-being. A sensory diet will help you incorporate sensory play into their day without them realizing, promoting calming activity and cognitive functioning as part of their routine.


On the other hand, you might need to ‘sneak’ sensory breaks in while you’re in the middle of chores or a get-together. A convenient sensory space in your home with a sensory swing, sensory bins, aromatherapy and soundscapes is the perfect place to spend a few moments when things are starting to get too much.


However, when you’re out of the house and on the move, sneaking sensory breaks in becomes even harder. A sensory bag filled with portable fidget toys and sensory objects will help your child engage in sensory play, no matter where they are. Again, this helps to sneak in a sensory break with minimal disruption.


Though it may not feel like you have the time or space to take a sensory break, a proactive approach will help both you and your child feel in control, promoting a sense of independence and well-being. By embracing sensory breaks as a natural part of your child's routine, you can create a supportive environment and nurture their sensory health every day.

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