Self soothing is not just for babies. It is a skill that children develop, and it is an essential life skill for adults.
The modern world is (over)hyped with sensory input. 24/7 interconnectedness via the world wide web and mobile technology and an instant gratification mentality. It is too easy to divert our attention away from how we feel, satisfying and placating instead with external distractions and pleasures.
Got your therapist on speed dial?
Do you call or text your inner circle when drama strikes?
Research does show that a tight network of support is a crucial ingredient in boosting your happiness quotient but no matter how epic your crew is, it is still your life to live, your challenges to sort through, your stubbed toe to work through.
Your emotional roller coaster. Your pain. Your hurt. Your drama. Peel it all back, there is only you. You are 100% responsible for yourself. It is up to you to find relief, release, and inner peace.
Let’s take some hints from what we do for babies and see how we can revive our self-soothing techniques and tools and adulting with more ease and finesse. Self soothing is about taking responsibility and being self-sufficient.
The key is to nurture ourselves. When we can find our centre and get grounded, regardless of the outer storm, we can navigate through without feeling crap. Self soothing is also not about repressing and suppressing what we feel and life’s challenges. These self soothing tools and techniques harmonize body mind spirit so that you can be more fully present in the moment to make more aligned choices.
14 Self Soothing Tips
Swaddling is an old practice that crosses cultural bounds, found in Africa, Asia, Europe, and America. It supposedly mimics the womb and helps babies feel secure in a snug and familiar space. The tight wrapping also helps infants acclimate to the different composition of air through the umbilical cord and outside the womb.
Adults can replicate swaddling by using a weighted blanket, which has long been used to calm children on the autistic spectrum. The pressure helps us feel calmer and stimulates a sense of groundedness. In Deep Pressure (DP) therapy, firm pressing, squeezing, and swaddling are used to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” part of the autonomic nervous system.
Reducing sensory inputs when you are feeling overwhelmed can be helpful. Minimizing your exposure can amp up the security factor.
And we have all snuggled up with a blanket on movie night. Isn’t it yummy comfy? Think this, but powered up.
② Good Eats
When babies fuss, it may be due to hunger. Breastfeeding of course gives the bonus of skin-on-skin touch, which we all need for survival and to thrive.
If you are like many people, you’ve probably experienced being “hangry” – anger from being hungry. Like many people, you’ve also probably have your own comfort foods.
What is your comfort food? The food you crave when you are down in the dumps? The food that turns that frown upside down and just makes everything okay again? Maybe it’s mom’s cooking or a tub of Ben & Jerry’s or salty fries.
Leverage the power of comfort food and maximize their benefit by choosing what is healing and right for your constitutions. We are often addicted to foods that we are sensitive to. Swap out ingredients that make us feel even more anxious or cause indigestion and bloating.
③ Soak it Out
Splish Splash is good for adults as it is for kids. Maybe your toys aren’t little duckies, or maybe they are.
Make yourself a luxurious and calming bath by adding essential oils and Himalayan or Epsom salt. There is nothing like relaxing in a bath (if you like baths) to dial back the fight-and-flight response and let your mind and body know it is all good.
Bathing in room-to-cool temperature water with flowers is also a great way to get you energetically squeaky clean. Sometimes rinsing off energetic residue is enough to immediately shift your vibrations.
Don’t have a bathtub? Have a foot bath or ladle water over the body in the shower. Finish your bathing ritual with a beautiful body oil or lotion. Use long soft strokes to calm. Make this your time.
④ Get A Move On
This partly goes back to being in the womb – the rhythmic movement of the embryonic waters. Think floating and swaying.
Generally moving the body helps energy flow. The body is meant to move.
Remember all the times you were told to play outside? Parents knew running around lets kids run out “excess” energy.
Get outside. Go for a walk. Do some gardening. Take a bike ride. Swing away at the playground.
The change in the environment – sights, sounds, smells, etc – can also trigger a sunnier you.
Being outside has the added bonus of connecting with negative ions. We are bombarded by positive ions, from all the electricity! Go barefoot if you can!
⑤ White Noise and Music
Experts suggest white noise for babies. Try that or just some soothing music. Classical music is shown to be the most beneficial in this area but any music that you LOVE is great. Maybe even your own favourite lullaby? Check out tunes at 528Hz.
Hum. Sing. This will definitely take your mind off whatever is bothering you, giving you breathing space to reexamine the issue at hand.
Sometimes having complete silence may be the way to go. If your soundscape is too overwhelming, sensory overload can frazzle your nerves.
⑥ Fingers and Toes
Babies suck their fingers + toes. They are doing Jin Shin Jyutsu Self-help!
Each finger is related to an attitude – a habitual response – two organ functions, and many more energetic pathways.
Instead of sucking your fingers (and toes?), hold them. Harmonize the attitudes – worry, fear, anger, sadness, and trying-to – and organ functions by holding all or whatever finger you are drawn to.
Thumb for Worry, Spleen, and Stomach
Index finger for Fear, Kidneys, and Bladder
Middle finger for Anger, Liver, and Gall Blader
Ring finger for Sadness/Grief Lung, and Large Intestine
Little finger for Trying to/Pretense Heart, and Small Intestine
⑦ Dim Down
Bright lights are stimulating. Again, sensory overload. Take a notch down by dimming the lights. Change your lightbulbs to a lower wattage rather than using a dimmer, which can leak out dirty electricity. Stop using computers and mobile devices a couple of hours before bedtime. Consider purchasing glasses that cut out blue light and software that automatically dial down the blue and dial up the orange on the computer. Blue light is known to interfere with our body’s functions.
⑧ Get Comfortable
Pain and discomfort are signals, a message. Listen to what the body needs and what it is saying. Ignoring the call of nature, for example, over a prolonged period can leave you anxious, constipated, and unfulfilled. Here are some tips on Getting Unconstipated.
Maybe you are gassy and need to burp? Try holding Jin Shin Jyutsu Safety Energy Lock 14.
⑨ Release Mislabeled Emotion
Have you mislabeled excitement as anxiety or terror?
Fear is excitement without the breath.
How you felt may have been mislabeled in childhood. Instead of automatically using labels (good/bad, terrified, raging, confused, etc), sit with it and see how you feel. Observe. You can increase your emotional literacy by developing our vocabulary of the range of emotions available to us.
You can also try Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) to bring down the intensity of the emotions to get clarity and release the underlying imbalance.
⑩ Rest Up
Like kids who get grumpy and even physically out of line, being overtired can take you into overdrive. Some people get short-tempered when they are hungry. Some people get irritable when they are exhausted, tired but wired, and maybe even burned out.
Find out if you are tapping out your essence in this article about Jing.
If you can, take a nap. Even a cat nap of 10 minutes can be surprisingly refreshing. You cannot really catch up on sleep but boy, does it ever feel good to sleep in. Make a habit of getting to bed before you are wiped out and getting up with the sun.
Trust is an issue for so many people. A lack of self-confidence, self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and self-love has led many astray. A strong sense of self (beyond ego) roots you to an unshakeable core. External upheavals do nothing to upset the inner sea of calm. Rather than be a leaf being blown by the east wind then the northeasterly, you will go with the flow but not be taken for a ride.
Be gentle and kind to yourself. Know your boundaries and be okay with saying “no”. Value your worth and know that you’ve got this.
⑫ Ask Open Questions
Open questions allow for more than a yes/no answer. Even better than expecting an answer, ask questions and allow the answers come to you. And they do, in beautiful synchronicity.
Invite yourself to ask questions, to open up possibilities rather than seek out immediate resolution, just for the sake of certainty.
⑬ Own Your Own Stuff
What are you denying? What are you carrying for other people? We cannot soothe something that doesn’t belong to us. And if it does belong to you, deal with it. Don’t just chuck it at other people.
An Access Consciousness® tip is simply asking, “who does this belong to?” Take the 3-Day Challenge. For every thought and feeling over three days, ask “who does this belong to?” Not yours? Send it back to the sender. No questions asked. No questions needed.
By now you have probably heard that meditation changes brain chemistry. Medication does as well, but suppressing your symptoms, including your emotions, is not a good long-term wellness strategy.
You do not have to be in the lotus position or meditate like a pro to reap its benefits.
One of the easiest ways to meditate is simply sitting comfortably and observing your breath. Exhale. Release. Inhale. Energize. Exhale. Feel the calm. Be the Calm. Inhale. Feeling light-filled. Follow and focus on the breath.
The more you maintain a regular practice, even if it is 15 minutes, the easier it will be for you to meditate to self-soothe during crisis.
⑮ Self Hypnosis
Self-hypnosis can be a great way to bring yourself into a relaxed state. Try this simple technique from Antoinette Biehlmeier. Practice it when you are feeling pretty good, before using it when you are emotionally challenged or stressed about deadlines and other crisis points.
Sit in a comfortable position on a chair or lay on your back in bed (if you want to fall asleep).
Start by sensing your body and notice any tense areas. Maybe your shoulders, your head, your stomach… Make a mental note.
Gently turn your focus towards your breath and observe it for a few moments. Is it shallow, slow, fast?
There is no need to change your breathing rhythm. It will happen on its own… just observe…
After a few breaths say softly “completely relaxed” when breathing in and “releasing all tension” when breathing out.
Continue for about 2 minutes and then add the counting down from 10 to 0. Counting down helps us sink deeper into relaxation.
10 – becoming more and more relaxed – wait –
9 – more and more relaxed with every breath – wait –
8 – double relaxation – wait –
7 – quiet and calm – wait –
6 – my body is relaxed – wait –
5 – every breath is deeply relaxing – wait –
4 – double relaxation – wait –
3 – I am completely relaxed – wait –
2 – 10 times more relaxed – wait –
1 – calm and relaxed – wait –
0 – deepest level of relaxation – wait –
Once it is easy for you to relax this way you can shorten the process by focusing on your breath for 2 minutes and then counting down
10 – completely relaxed – wait –
9 – completely relaxed – wait –
8 – completely relaxed – wait – and so on…
It is easy to return to the “here and now” by simply putting your attention on it. You can intend to be fully refreshed, with a clear and sharp mind if you have to get some work done afterwards. Or your intention may be to keep a nice level of relaxation going when you plan to have a sofa day…
Self soothing is not about emotional self-regulation so that you can fit into society. Sure, that can come in handy. Emotional self-regulation is about increasing greater systemic coherence so that we can self-direct our energy. It is about self-knowledge and self-acceptance so that you can enjoy wellness no matter what is going on in society. Find your own way. Always remember the breath. Focus on what you desire, not on what’s crumbling around you. Self soothing is empowerment.