Self soothing techniques help you calm and relax when you are feeling overwhelmed physically and emotionally. I think one of the most important aspects of self-soothing I’ve discovered is that not every technique works for everyone and it’s unlikely that one technique will be the only technique you ever use.
Often, people want one solution to feel better: one medication, one single action to solve all their problems. The fact is, that’s not how life works. Some will work, some won’t, and some might for a period of time and then stop. Some might not work now, but might later. But some calming activities don’t work for everyone. For instance, some people are allergic to bath salts, while others can’t drink herbal tea because of possible drug interactions (e.g., blood thinners). Many of us also can’t afford manicures or massages. And most of us are pressed for time.
The following are suggestions for taking care of your own emotions: How to Self-Soothe
– Stretch your body. Anxiety can hijack the body. Try doing a full body stretch – Reach your arms overhead, then slowly fold forward and slowly open again.
– Give yourself a regulating hug: place your right hand across your heart and put your palm against your body with your hand under your armpit. Take your left arm across the body towards the right and hold your own deltoid or upper arm close to your shoulder for a calming self-hug.
– Take a warm shower or bubble bath.
– Give yourself an outlet for your feelings. If you have a journal, write down your emotions every day for a while as a way to let them out. Call a good friend or family member to share your feelings, too.
– Ground yourself. When stress strikes, some people feel lightheaded or like they’re floating outside their bodies. Making a point to feel your feet against the ground can help. Place your two feet on the ground and really press the balls of your feet into the ground. Taking nice, big breaths in and out, ask yourself, can I feel the floor, does it feel solid?
– Think about your favorite activity or hobby. Maybe you love to read. Tell yourself you’ll be sure to read at least an hour a day as a way to self-soothe.
– Play, pet (and walk) a pet for 10 minutes or more.
– Visualise a peaceful image. This can be anything from the sun to ocean waves to a furry friend. Try combining the visualisation with breathing deeply. As you inhale and reach your arms out in front of you, hold the image in your mind. Then exhale and bring both hands to your heart, all the while thinking of the image.
– Play soothing music.
– Speak compassionately to yourself. This means extending yourself some kindness as you would to a good friend. Unfortunately, being self-compassionate doesn’t come naturally to many of us. Fortunately, you can learn to treat yourself with consideration and care.
– Acknowledge your feelings. “I’m hurt because of what happened today” or, “I feel sad because my relationship isn’t going well.” Recognise that you’re going through a rough spot right now.
– Get yourself some hot cocoa, tea, coffee, juice or water. Drink it slowly focusing on the sensations of taste, smell and temperature.
Learning to self-soothe is an important part of living a healthy adult life. Self-soothing is like any other exercise. The more we do it, the better we get at it. Practice these suggestions when you recognize that you feel upset, hurt or disappointed. Take responsibility for soothing yourself through any challenging situation.
In the event you discover you need some assistance in self-soothing, consider contacting a professional to get some extra support through the process. In time, you’ll learn to soothe yourself and take care of your own feelings.