We often try to teach young children how to self-soothe, manage their emotions, and sidestep a breakdown, but truth be told, a lot of us adults haven’t mastered it yet!
Self-soothing in the moment is one of the most important skills we can learn. It’s a valuable coping mechanism to have in our emotional arsenal, and helps us react mindfully to all the stressors in our lives. We hear some basic tips here and there, like “count to ten when you’re feeling angry,” but many of us enter into adulthood still feeling ill-equipped. We may self-medicate with alcohol or food instead. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Self-soothing can be more difficult for those of us who are ADHD, anxious, hypervigilant, neurotic, and stressed (who isn’t!? lol), but it is also more necessary. Touch, specifically, is the most comforting of all our senses, but it’s so often overlooked.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate touch in your self-soothing practices:
1: Stroke your arm(s) gently while closing your eyes and thinking about one of your favorite places to be. Envision yourself there… lose yourself in your daydream. Notice if it’s warm or cool? Can you feel the sun or breeze on your body? Or are you snuggled in something cozy and comfortable?
2: Hold your face between your hands just as you would a child or a beloved. Close your eyes and feel the warmth, love, and energy from your hands transferring through to your face. Feel the security and the comfort of being held by someone you trust. That someone is you.
3: Put your hand on your chest or neck and feel your heartbeat. Feel your chest rise and fall with deep, slow breaths. Feel the energy flow from your heart to your hand to your arm. That’s love.
4: If you’re sitting, stroke your thigh. You can do this discreetly, even if you’re in a stressful meeting or other situation. Put your hand on top of your knee and stroke rhythmically from your thigh to your knee, on one leg or both. Skin-to-skin is best. Close your eyes, relax into it, and feel the sensation. It’s love from someone you love. Someone you trust. It has the power to make you feel better, to calm you down, to ground you, to bring you into the moment, into the present, and make sure that you’re feeling surrounded by love.
💟 Weekly Challenge:
You don’t have to wait for a stressful moment to arise to try these methods! Take some time each day this week to spend some time with your beautiful self and indulge in some tactile affection.
What do you notice?
Does your pulse slow and do your breaths deepen after you become aware of them?
Do you feel more prepared to tackle life’s obstacles?