Self Soothing


You’ve probably heard of self-soothing in relation to babies. The concept is that babies need to learn how to relax on their own enough to fall asleep without being held or rocked. Which usually involves a lot of crying on their part.

Regardless of which side you fall into on that debate, self-soothing is something that all adults need to learn. When you are having those upset and anxious moments, you need to know how to calm yourself down. You’d be surprised at how many people just don’t know how to do this in a constructive way. They get overwhelmed with negative emotions and they turn to destructive ways to cope, like lashing out, drugs and alcohol, or deep depression.

You need to discover how to self-soothe.

When you are getting overwhelmed the easiest way to figure out which way to self-soothe is best for you is to go through the five senses.

Touch

This is the one that actually works best for me. Touch is a great way to immediately ground yourself and bring you back into the present, into the moment. What works best for me is lovingly touching my cheek, ya know, caressing, it works every time to settle me down. So does soothingly running my fingers through my hair. You can also use other kinds of touch therapy like touching soft things like blankets or petting a furry animal. Wrapping yourself in a warm blanket is also uber helpful!

Smell

Now I’m a huge fan of aromatherapy, so if you have any interest in that kind of thing you should start experimenting with lavender and chamomile, two of my favorite calming scents. Put them in a diffuser or rub the oil on your chest. Make yourself a cup of tea and take a deep whiff of the steam. Run yourself a bubble bath with yummy smelly bath stuffs. Go outside and enjoy the many earthy scents of nature.

Sight

Surround yourself with things that please you. Choose soothing colors like blues, greens, and purples, or any other colors that give you that peaceful vibe. Dim the lights or surround yourself with a few candles. Go to a garden or to the woods, or surround yourself with things that are nice to look at. Read a book or watch a good movie.

Taste

Eat something good or good for you. Eat slowly and savor every moment. Make it an experience instead of eating your feelings. Drink something special, hot cocoa, tea, sparkling cider, anything that’s a little out of the every day but makes you happy.

Hearing

Listen to music, preferably the calming soothing kind instead of the angry rage-y kind. Nature sounds are also a great addition when you need to calm down, especially if you can’t make your way to a beach or a rainforest or a rainy day. Silence can also be a great soother.

In what ways do you self-soothe? What is your absolute favorite?

  • Emily Patterson

    For me, it's all about recognizing the sensations my body is experiencing when I start to freak out, then using my mind to catch myself and say "ok, my stomach is tightening/my jaw is clenching/my shoulders are moving up and forward. Why is that?" and just focus on that physical sensation for a second, and usually it will ease with just that. I also have a strong inner voice saying "hey, hey, it's alright, don't panic– let's think through this", etc. I think I got the physical sensation part from one of Deepak Chopra's books about ayurveda. Somewhere along the way I got the notion that freaking out doesn't really help solve anything, and that resonates with me. "Panicking is not going to change the situation".  One of the things I remind myself in those moments when I need to self-soothe.

  • Unfortunately my method of self soothing has always been food… and usually not the good for you kind.  I had thought I had finally broken the cycle earlier this year but the very first crisis sent me diving headfirst back into the land of chocolate and Dr. Pepper, which is where I've been living every since.  So it's been back to the drawing board to figure out how to fight again…