Why would self-soothing be needed after the holidays? They are over, shouldn’t you be able to relax now? I wondered, as I watched people around me unable to switch off the tension. I noticed they immediately went to the next worrisome thing on their list.
Here’s what happens. Once in a state of mind to cope and respond to everything with worry and anxiety, when one thing is over, your mind simply flips to the other things that have piled up. Be it the bills, the project due soon, or the relationships that need tending, there is always something. The key is to train yourself to respond to stress differently.
So, here are 8 tips on self-soothing that when used regularly, can short circuit the worry and anxiety response. Identify your favorites and retrain yourself to respond differently.
Taking slow deep breaths actually calms you down from the inside out. The research on this is compelling showing that you are relaxing your nervous system. Try the simple box breathing techniques that has you inhale to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4 and hold for the count of 4. It works.
Switch From Feeling To Thinking
When you get anxious, it can be a vicious cycle of worry and anxiety creating more negative feelings and panic. Try switching your focus from your feelings to doing a mental activity like counting or noticing and naming things around you. Try looking at things of beauty (like the roses). You will notice the anxiety subside.
Change Your Thoughts
Notice your thoughts and how they create more worry and anxiety. If you say things like “I’ll never get it all done” or “I can’t do this” you are setting yourself up. Change them to things like “Take it one thing at a time and I’ll get there”, “I’ve handled hard stuff before and always get it done”. Switch your focus to gratitude and notice yourself relax. Make this an automatic thought response and you’ll short circuit the anxious thought process. It works for me.
Going outside, breathing deeply and walking can be done anywhere and makes a decisive improvement on your mood and overall wellbeing. Connecting with the natural world is calming, soothing and restful. If you can make it a regular part of your day, you will notice how it restores and resets your mind and body. The research on this is compelling too.2
Visualize Your Safe Place
This technique is one I use in therapy often. I ask people to visualize their safe place – be it the beach, a stream, mountains or somewhere else. Notice how you can immediately see it. Know you can take yourself there any time you want, especially when addressing or remembering something upsetting. It will calm you.
Being hydrated helps us stay in balance. You will be amazed at how the ability to cope and manage things can be improved if you simply drink more water. I don’t mean coffee, tea or Red Bull – which only amps up your anxiety, I mean plain water. Add lemon if you want or drink hot herbal tea. It makes a big difference.
Listen to Music
The right music can change your mood and improve your outlook. What do you find relaxing – classical, piano, jazz, oldies? It’s all available online now – just ask your favorite streaming service to play it. If you really listen, you won’t be paying attention to the negative thoughts or feelings.
Meditation is the gold standard for changing your response to stress. When you close your eyes, empty your mind and sit quietly or listen to relaxing sounds like white noise, waves, rain or a guided meditation you slow down your breathing, lower your blood pressure and effectively reduce anxiety. Please try it or use the apps Calm or Headspace for helpful guidance. It’s been my life changer.
Are you needing a little self-soothing now that the holidays are past? If you are still cranked up and having trouble relaxing, try the 8 simple tips listed to get yourself restored and out of the frazzle, anxious or worried mode. Do as many as you need, they all work wonders.
If you’d like more personalize help to change your stress response, please reach out. My Transformational Life Coaching and Therapy can help you understand and manage life situations that may be distressing you. Go to www.spectrumtransformation.com and use my Free Consultation link. I’d love to help.