Self-soothe is a skill we often use to manage our distress effectively when emotions are feeling overwhelming. This skill is a way for us to take care of ourselves without making our distress worse or engaging in problem behaviors. Instead of jumping in to distract ourselves or reaching out to others for help when they are sometimes not available, we can learn to soothe ourselves. This skill is about self-compassion, care and learning to be kind to yourself during stressful times.
We use self-soothe by utilizing our senses of smell, taste, touch, vision, and hearing. When you first start to use this skill, we encourage you to practice using a new idea each week, perhaps something in a different sensory category. For example, this week, choose smell and consider how you can self-soothe using this sense. Note your level of distress before and after you use this skill and observe how you have the innate ability to take care of yourself.
For those of you looking for some new ideas as well as for those of you just getting started, here's our holiday self-soothe guide. These are our favorite festive, warming, and comforting ways to engage your senses (often, many at a time!) using the self-soothe skill. Take a few minutes this week to make sure you have the necessary accoutrements on hand and then get going.
1. Heat some spiced apple cider on the stove. Add a few cloves and cinnamon sticks and mindfully notice the incredible aroma that will waft through your home. Breathe it in. This is Fall. When you’re ready, mindfully pour the warmed cider into your favorite mug. This will quickly become a taste self-soothe and you can also feel the warmth in your hands.
2. Find yourself a pair of fuzzy socks and wear them with your favorite flannel pajama set. Wrap yourself in a knitted blanket and find yourself in a touch-oriented self-soothe to write home about. Do your best to settle in, note the sensations of the soft fabrics on your skin, and enjoy your self-soothe cocoon.
3. Light your favorite candle and take a few minutes to watch the flame dance. Note the movement and changes in color. If it smells of lovely things like vanilla or cedar, the scents may also contribute to a calming sensory experience. Combine this with dimming your lights to focus your vision even more on the flame. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Take a walk in a park as a visual self-soothe exercise. Note any changes in foliage color you notice, different textures and materials in the buildings or fountains you pass, the colors of the sky, and changing fall light. Make this a regular exercise and return to a certain treed area, noting week by week, the changes in leaves on the branches. Listen carefully for the crunching of leaves under your feet or the laughter of others enjoying the park.
5. Engage in an at-home facial steam. Place a washcloth under warm (not hot!) water, ring it out, and place it on your face. Make sure it is the appropriate temperature before doing so. Place it in a circular shape around your face, allowing your nose and mouth to peek out for breathing. Note the warmth and soothing sensations of the washcloth. Add a drop of a calming, scented essential oil such as lavender or sandalwood to the washcloth prior to using and you’ll get a dose of self-soothing aromatherapy as well. Listen to acoustic guitar on Spotify or Pandora to add an additional layer of calming.
We would love to hear any additional ideas you have for Fall or holiday self-soothe ideas. Drop us a line!