Simple self soothing strategies are a good way to calm our nervous system when it goes into overdrive. It can be hard to speak to a professional exactly when you need it, so learning to navigate intense emotions on our own can help in the mean time. Self soothing is a valuable tool to have in our back pocket when life feels overwhelming and we cannot make sense of what is in front of us. Typically used for panic attacks or anxiety attacks, these strategies can be done right at home. They give our mind something else to focus on and can bring us back down to earth in turbulent times. Try the below when you are feeling overwhelmed and need to re centre.
Painting, drawing or colouring in are really good ways to allow your mind to focus on exactly what’s in front of you. The brush strokes, the colour selection and the way a picture comes to life eases tension and the chatter of the mind. Choose what feels right to you, whether it’s sketching with a pencil, playing with water colours or a Kaleidoscope Colouring (these are cheap to buy and very effective, roughly $12.00).
Positive self talk is crucial for anyone. Our mind can create stories and narratives about ourselves that simply aren’t true, do not listen to that little person on one shoulder speaking negatively, listen to the cheerleader on the other side that knows you are loved, you are kind, you are cared for and you are safe. Make a mental list of all of the good qualities you hold, and sit with those for a moment.
Take a walk in nature and surround yourself with the elements, when we are at one with mother nature her beauty can remind us of what is important. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? Acknowledge the way the wind whistles through the leaves and the way the earth feels under your feet. Walk for as long as you need, immerse yourself in your surroundings.
Being with animals or pets has shown to reduce our feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. Creatures big and small show unconditional love and in times when we feel low, their simple affection can bring us up a notch and ease our pain. The bonds we hold with our pets are very effective in that they are consistent, accepting and affectionate. Practice mindfulness with your furry friend when you are experiencing unpleasant emotions.
This is a very simple way to bring us back to the present moment, place your hands under running water and concentrate on the sensation of the water hitting your skin. Focus on the feeling and sound of the water flowing. It’s great to incorporate breathing into this practice as well, take deep inhales and exhales while keeping your hands under the running tap. Is the water cold? Is it warm? Breathe through the intensity of your emotions while doing this self soothing practice.
Box breathing is a breathing technique that helps to lower stress, reduce anxiety and increase positive feelings. To do this, simply breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts and then exhale for four counts. Repeat for as long as you need until you notice your heart rate slow down and you feel an overall calmness. Most people will practice Box Breathing for roughly five minutes, it can be done anywhere and anytime.
There is no better feeling then listening to your favourite music, it has the ability to lift our mood and bring us back to a happier place. When you are feeling low or that anxiety is creeping in, reach for your headphones or your radio and put on some music. Lyrics have a wonderful way of speaking to us, of articulating how we feel better than we can! Enjoy the melody, listen carefully to the words and sway to the music if it feels right.
Cooking is a really therapeutic activity, and can be done in the comfort of your own home. The process of choosing a recipe and slicing and dicing the ingredients will soothe the soul. Pop on some music, crank the barbecue and get in the kitchen. The bonus being at the end you will have a nutritious and delicious meal to enjoy.
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