Learning to self-soothe is hard, but it’s something that we should all strive to do. Whether we have mental health conditions or a traumatic past or not, we all feel down from time to time. Over the years, I’ve learned how to deal with my insecurities. But that doesn’t mean that they’re gone or that they don’t flare up sometimes. When that happens, I find myself turning inward or becoming defensive. Instead of being ruled by these symptoms, I’ve embarked on a journey to practice new ways to self soothe.
When I first started, I thought I had found the solution to all of my problems in conscious breathing. I would sit quietly, usually in the morning, and I would breathe in and out, focusing all of my attention on the flow of the breath. The University of Michigan clearly states that deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to lower stress in your body. It’s the equivalent of sending a signal to your brain saying that it needs to calm down. Today, I still find breathing exercises helpful. But the sense of peace and calm that I got during my first experiences has weakened over time.
But let me get this straight: that’s fine. Right now, I believe that there is no single answer to the need to self soothe. Some solutions will work, some won’t, some might for some time while becoming gradually less effective. Learning to self soothe is a process that evolves over time. And I have a few more stages of my journey to share.
Many people share the belief that there is little to no value in taking time away to self soothe. To help you ease into a self-soothing practice, my suggestion is to try a meditation app. Right now there’s no shortage of meditation apps for your phone, whether on iOS or Android. And yes, there’s some irony in trying to chill out through the same device that is actively damaging your brain and driving you mad. Yet I think that a simple, curated app like Chakra Meditation Balancing can be a great companion in your journey to self-soothing.
I also enjoy reading, especially poetry and philosophy books. Think of the aha moment that you experience when you understand a difficult concept or when you connect with an elusive, hermetic poem. I find it soothing and rewarding to repeat that sentence or idea in my head throughout the day.
A Little Warmth
Very little in life can’t be improved with a warm drink. Warm drinks soften the pace of life. There’s scientific evidence that just holding a cup of hot chocolate makes you see others as having a generous, caring personality. And if you’re looking for something a bit more exotic than your usual hot chocolate, why not try a cacao ceremony?
Just as mothers console their babies by patting their chests, you can try placing your hands right over your heart. Feel it beating. Physical touch releases oxytocin, providing a sense of security, and soothing distressing emotions.
Did you know that many great minds of the past shared a passion for taking a long walk? Taking a stroll is surely beneficial, but you can take it a step further by practicing walking meditation. The idea of walking meditation is to intentionally do things that you usually do automatically while walking. It’s definitely weird. But if you push through the weirdness, you’ll find a great alternative to breathing exercises. Just remember to focus. Your mind will naturally wander, and it’s up to you to gently draw it back to the steps.
You’re beginning your adventure to create more equanimity and peace in your life. Remember to be patient. Self-soothing is a skill that needs practice. I am still learning – everybody is. But I do believe that embarking on this journey could make a difference in your life. And I know it changed mine.