Sensory Compounding is based on conditioning theory. Conditioning means learning. You learn to use all five senses to trigger peaceful and calm reactions. Conditioning is when we learn to associate a sense with an event, person, place, etc. If it’s a happy association, when we experience the sense, we will experience a positive reaction. If it’s a negative association, we will experience a negative reaction.
For example, some people find the smell of turkey triggers happy memories and a feeling of happiness. Others may associate it with being ill and feel fearful and worried (if they got food poisoning by eating turkey). Still others may feel sad because they associate the smell of turkey with a family breakup that happened at Christmas.
Sometimes, we are aware of these associations. And sometimes we aren’t. A big part of recovering from stress is learning what sensory triggers are associated with the stress and then reprogramming them so they don’t trigger stressful reactions. It’s common for a person to be unaware of some triggers for stress. Sensory Compounding can help you learn new responses to established sensory triggers. You can also just learn new ways to use your senses to trigger pleasant responses such as calmness, peace and relaxation.