Self-soothing is about using your six senses to nurture yourself and cope with distress. If you focus on your senses, you can distract yourself from your worries. By practicing self-care and using self-soothe skills, you can learn to better tolerate overwhelming events. Use vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch and movement to lower distress and feel more relaxed. Here are some ideas on how to self-soothe.
What is Self-Soothing?
Self-soothe is a term that describes the calming techniques used in the meditation practice known as mindfulness. By practicing mindfulness meditation, we calm our minds and bodies by creating a deeper connection with our senses. This process allows us to direct our focus and calm the physical and emotional responses that are caused by our own thoughts. The more we practice mindfulness meditation, the more we can relate to and understand our experiences.
Steps to Self-Soothing
Create some alone time. Grab a pen and paper and draw. Close your eyes and choose one of your senses, then open your eyes and focus fully on that sense. Move your body (do yoga stretches, walk, run).
A photograph can help overcome stress. Choose one that focuses on a happy moment in your past. Summon up a happy memory, a positive experience, a picture of people you love. Relive a dream. Many people find it helpful to recall dreams as a way of creating positive change.
Place earbuds in your ears and play your favorite song. Focus on the music. Become part of the song. Listen to the lyrics, the drums. Let your stressors become part of the music. Vocal self-soothing. Deep breathing. Take in deep breaths - in through your mouth, out through your mouth.
Hold each breath for up to 10 seconds. Repeat 6 times. Rest. Repeat. Inhale, hold, exhale ...
Take a few moments to smell something delicious. We should be smelling delicious things in our lives, not depriving the strongest of our senses - the olfactory. Smell perfume on a loved one, fresh flowers, baking bread, The list is endless. If you're upset or anxious, smell lavender to calm yourself.
Step away from your stressor. If you’re stressed about a deadline or feel overwhelmed with a difficult situation, take a few minutes to walk around your office, down the hallway or outside. This will help you restore your body’s own stress hormone levels. Breathe deeply. As your breathing becomes more relaxed, your body will start to feel less tense. Slow down your breathing and you will slow down your heart rate, creating a sense of wellbeing.