Deep Pressure Calming Activities for Adults
If you’re looking for some deep pressure calming activities to do, look no further! We’ve compiled a list of our favorites, from sleeping with weighted blankets to massage and yoga.
Deep pressure input is one of the most effective ways to calm the nervous system, and these activities are sure to provide the relief you or your loved one is seeking.
Table of Contents
What is deep pressure?
Deep pressure is a type of tactile sensory input that can be delivered through firm holding, cuddling, hugging, firm stroking, and squeezing. This type of sensory input is especially beneficial for individuals with conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, depression, and Alzheimer’s, as it can help them relax, focus, and better understand their body’s senses.
By providing input to the proprioceptive and sensory systems, deep pressure activities can help people to better regulate their emotions by providing a feeling of being grounded and ‘in control’.
Functional outcomes of deep pressure therapy include improved balance, body, spatial awareness, coordination, sleep, attention, and reduced anxiety and stress.
What are the benefits of deep pressure for adults with autism?
Deep pressure therapy can be beneficial for adults with autism as it has been found to help with emotional and sensory regulation needs. Studies have shown that deep pressure stimulation can reduce anxiety and improve self-stimulating behaviors in adults with autism.
It has also been found to modulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, resulting in decreased heart rate and improved relaxation. In addition, the application of deep pressure can help reduce tactile defensiveness, providing a comforting effect and allowing for increased focus and attention.
With the addition of therapeutic products such as weighted blankets or compression garments available on the market, adults with autism can now benefit from the calming effects of deep pressure therapy conveniently and in their own homes even during or after a meltdown.
What are the best deep pressure calming activities for adults?
There are many deep pressure calming activities that adults can do to help relax their muscles and joints.
Sleeping with Weighted blankets: These blankets provide a gentle and even pressure that can help calm the nervous system and reduce feelings of stress.
Hot water bottle: Placing a hot water bottle on the stomach or back can provide a soothing and calming deep pressure stimulation.
Massage: A full-body massage can help stimulate pressure points and release tension in the muscles, leading to a sense of relaxation and calm.
Massage tools can be used to lie on your stomach and give yourself a gentle back massage with a vibrating tool. You can use a tennis ball or a foam roller to roll along your back for extra pressure.
Yoga: Certain yoga poses, such as child’s pose or downward facing dog, can help apply gentle pressure to the body, which can be calming.
Hugging: A tight hug can provide deep pressure stimulation to the muscles and joints, which can be soothing and relaxing. Similar to hugging, bear hugs involve wrapping your arms around yourself and applying gentle pressure to your torso. A Butterfly hug is known for having a calming effect on panic attacks as well.
Squeeze toys: Squeeze toys, such as stress balls or therapy putty, can provide an outlet for tension and anxiety.
Acupressure mats: Acupressure mats are designed to stimulate pressure points in the body, which can help relieve stress and promote relaxation.
Sandbags: Sitting or lying on a sandbag can provide deep pressure stimulation to the body, which can be calming.
Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and then releasing different muscle groups, which can help release tension and promote relaxation.
Lying on an exercise ball and rolling around, which can help to work out any kinks in the body and provide deep pressure. This can be a very comforting activity for many people.
Celebrate World Sleep Day with some sleep activities!
What are the best Deep Pressure Activities for Kids?
When it comes to selecting the best deep pressure activities for kids, it’s important to consider the type of proprioceptive input the activity is providing, as well as how calming and organizing it is for your child.
Some activities, such as rolling a ball over your child while they lay face-down on the floor, or creating a tight space in your home that they can crawl into, can provide a good amount of deep pressure. Putty play can also be a great way to give deep pressure, as it is a therapy-grade material made for building strength.
For a quick way to provide deep pressure, you can shake your child’s arms up and down while firmly gripping their wrists.
Hanging upside down can also be helpful in providing deep pressure.
Weighted blankets or weighted lap pads can provide a gentle and even pressure that can help calm a child’s nervous system and reduce feelings of stress. Swaddling, or wrapping a child in a blanket like a burrito, can provide a sense of comfort and security that can be calming. A body sock can be a great sensory toy.
Squeeze toys: Squeeze toys, such as stress balls or therapy putty, can provide a fun outlet for kids to release tension and anxiety.
Rocking in a rocking chair or gently swaying back and forth can be very calming and soothing for children.
Playing in a ball pit can provide a fun and engaging way for children to experience deep pressure stimulation.
Sensory activities: Sensory activities, such as playing with playdough or kinetic sand, can provide a fun and calming outlet for children to release tension.
Jumping on a trampoline can provide deep pressure stimulation to the muscles and joints, which can be calming for children.
Compression clothing: Tight-fitting clothing, such as compression shirts or leggings, can provide a gentle pressure on a child’s skin that can be calming.
Mummy wrap by wrapping the child up tightly in a sheet or blanket and tucking the ends of the material in. Have the child walk around the room trying not to drop the material.
Joint compressions by placing a hand on each side of the elbow and then pushing back and forth towards the elbow. You can repeat this on the wrists, shoulders, knees, and ankles if desired.
Building a pillow fort can provide a fun and cozy place for children to relax and experience deep pressure stimulation.
Fill a sensory bin with beans, rice, or other materials which can provide a fun and engaging way for children to experience deep pressure stimulation.
Blowing up balloons and playing with them can provide a fun and engaging way for children to experience deep pressure stimulation.
These activities can be used in combination to provide the proprioceptive input your child needs to feel calm and regulated.
It’s important to listen to the needs and preferences of each individual child and to avoid activities that cause discomfort or distress. Encouraging children to take part in deep pressure activities can help them develop coping skills and reduce stress and anxiety.
How do deep pressure calming activities help with sensory processing disorders?
Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) is an effective way of reducing stress and anxiety in individuals with sensory processing difficulties, attention disorders and autism spectrum disorders, as it releases certain brain chemicals such as dopamine and causes a parasympathetic response in the body that in turn reduces cortisol levels.
This type of therapy has been found to increase body awareness, and activities such as using swings, trampolines, and hotdog rolls can provide sufficient tactile input for calming down.
What is a sensory diet?
A sensory diet is a plan of activities that are tailored to an individual’s specific sensory needs and preferences. It helps in preventing sensory overload, supporting self-regulation, and aiding an organized response to sensory stimuli. This can include activities for all of the senses, such as proprioception, vestibular, tactile, visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, and interoception.
An adult sensory diet is designed to meet the individual’s needs, and should be personalized in order to be effective. A sensory journal or diary is often used to track sensory processing, and to identify triggers and dislikes. Sensory diet activities can also be incorporated into everyday tasks, such as school field trips or work activities, to help manage sensory overload and maintain emotional regulation.
What is proprioception?
Proprioception is a sensory system that is responsible for providing the brain with information about the position and movement of the body. It is located in our muscles, joints and tendons, and helps to regulate responses to sensory stimuli.
Proprioceptive input can be calming and organizing, allowing us to feel more grounded and organized. It can also be alerting, providing increased sensory stimulation to facilitate attention and learning. Proprioceptive input can be provided through a variety of channels, including from another person or item, through gross motor activities, fine motor resistive activities and oral motor input.
What is a weighted blanket and how is it used?
A weighted blanket is a blanket filled with glass beads or plastic poly pellets that provides gentle pressure to help the person using it relax and sleep better. It is commonly used as a tool for deep touch pressure (DTP) stimulation, a therapeutic technique that has its roots in the world of occupational therapy.
The pressure from the weighted blanket stimulates the production of serotonin and endorphins, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety while promoting relaxation and calmness. Read more on how to use a weighted blanket correctly.
Research has shown that weighted blankets can have physiological benefits, like reducing blood pressure and heart rate, and can help reduce overall anxiety and stress levels. Of course there some Cons of Weighted blankets as well.
Afif, I.Y.; Manik, A.R.; Munthe, K.; Maula, M.I.; Ammarullah, M.I.; Jamari, J.; Winarni, T.I. Physiological Effect of Deep Pressure in Reducing Anxiety of Children with ASD during Traveling: A Public Transportation Setting. Bioengineering 2022, 9, 157. https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering9040157
How does deep pressure stimulation help with the parasympathetic nervous system?
When deep pressure is applied to the body, the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated and releases hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, which are known to affect mood regulation, sleep, and even social behavior.
How can deep pressure calming activities help with stress and anxiety?
Deep pressure calming activities can help with stress and anxiety by providing proprioceptive input to the muscles and joints. This input is both calming and organizing for the brain and nervous system, which can help to reduce tension and anxiety. Deep pressure activities can also provide stimulation through the deeper skin receptors, alerting the nervous system and increasing attention.
How to give yourself deep pressure?
How to Give Yourself Deep Pressure?
- Roll a heavy ball over your body: This is a great way to provide deep pressure and relaxation. Start by lying down on the floor face down. Then, slowly roll a large yoga-style ball from the tips of your toes all the way up to your neck. Push down a little, but not too hard.
- Create a tight space: This can be done by sitting in a chair with a blanket over your head, or by crawling into a little box. The point is that your body is being squeezed by the walls or whatever container you can find.
- Use a weighted blanket or lap pad: Both of these tools are great for providing deep pressure. They are especially helpful for those who have trouble sleeping or sitting still in a chair.
- Give yourself a big deep hug: Make sure you squeeze yourself firmly. Start slow and see how it feels.
- Use a deep pressure therapy Dog to help yourself transition from a stressed state to a more relaxed one. Dogs can be trained to perform deep pressure therapy (DPT) as a service dog to help their handler
Now that you know what deep pressure is, when, and how to use it, you can start experiencing the benefits of deep pressure therapy.