Every person needs to know how to self-soothe. From new-born babies needing to know how to return to sleep to newly pubescent teens coping with surging hormones, to every adult whether they be survivors of any sort of abuse or not, we all need ways cope with uncomfortable feelings.
“Soothing is what good parents do when their children are upset. It often involves soothing touch that is warm and comforting. It can involve words that are reassuring, empathic and hopeful. It may involve activities that are physically, intellectually or sensorially nourishing, such as taking a walk, reading a favorite book or sharing a special meal. It can also involve daily practices that are spiritually uplifting and inspiring, such as meditation. When you can perform this type of caring for yourself whatever your chosen activities may be then you have learned to self-soothe.” (from ASCA’s “Survivor to Thriver” Manual — On-line Version)
Ways I self-soothe:
- Take a nap. I can sleep almost anytime anywhere if it’s silent and dark, but an afternoon nap is especially luxurious.
- Pray; praying is always comforting for me. No matter what else I’m feeling, no matter what my concern, I feel anchored when in conversation with my Abba-Creator, in communion with Jesus, abiding in the Spirit.
- Listen to music (usually classical or comtempo-Christian, sometimes blues). I like to start with music that is the same mood I’m feeling and then transition to music expressing my desired feeling.
- Play my piano. I enjoy playing repertoire I know, reading new scores, practicing challenging pieces I’m working on, my own compositions, and sometimes improvising. I won’t improvise for anyone else; that’s an extremely personal activity for me, but it’s sometimes a way I pray.
- Light a candle.
- Read an engrossing book.
- Put on a perfume or lotion with a relaxing scent like lavender or rose; I also really like the original Jergens because it reminds me of my mother when I was a very little girl. She often carried a small bottle of it in her purse, and when at church, sitting in the pew, she would let me put some on my hands. I felt like such a lady!
- Take a steamy hot shower, or if it’s a steamy hot day a cool one.
- Repeat a short prayer or mantra, like:
- Jesu juva; soli Deo gloria; or
- The Glory Be (Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, is now and every shall be; world without end. Amen. (It’s amazing how, no matter my circumstances, praising God for Being God is uplifting to my whole being.)
- Sometimes when I have felt over-whelmed, experiencing no particularly bad feeling, just a little disoriented, or possibly on the verge of panic, I simply take note of What Is. I observe my surroundings and list mentally what I see in concrete terms of What Is. It’s remarkably effective for me. No-one taught me to do this. I remember the first time it occurred to me to do this. It was when I was walking to my first class on my first day at graduate school. I was so aware of so many new things, all at once; it was helpful to list them to myself, one at a time.
- Simply breathing very deeply and very slowly is extremely helpful.
My goodness! It is quite lovely to think about how effective are these techniques/ strategies, and most of them are entirely without cost. Thanks be to God!