Feel Calm By Soothing The Senses
When we are in a distressing situation or feeling emotionally overwhelmed we can lash out and hurt others or we can find ways that provide us with comfort and pleasure. Finding ways to help ourselves feel better, calmer and more relaxed can be life changing. When you know how to find comfort in an uncomfortable world you begin to nurture yourself and others.
Self-Soothing The Senses
Soothing the senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch. These are the senses that get overstimulated and also provide the windows of opportunity to self-soothe. When you notice any distress in your body, think of strategies that will short-circuit the stress or help you to cope with overwhelming emotions or situations, through the senses.
Change your vision by focusing on something beautiful in nature. Listen to soothing music. Smell some of your favorite scenes in nature or simply notice the smells around you that you like. Drink a soothing cup of tea. Take a bath and feel the water caress your body. Pet the dog. Enjoy something soft or smooth.
Here’s an example environment to soothe all the senses. Create an environment designed to soothe. An un-clutter, softly lit, calm colored room perhaps. Include soothing music of the sounds of nature or water. Have a cup of warm tea. Notice the clean smells around you. Enjoy fabrics that caress the body in softness or smoothness. Sink into your own being and aura.
As you begin to practice self-soothing, things will begin to get better and you will find over time that it is easy and well worth the focus.
Notice How You Self-Soothe
A young child learns to self-soothe from being soothed by their caregivers. Caregivers comfort a child with touch and holding them close to the heart. Over time the child will learn to calm oneself. Soothing activities are critical for the healthy development of any child.
As adults we find comfort in companionship via friends, family and huggers that pull us close to their heart. Self-soothing is a basic skill important for emotional and physical well-being.
For emotionally sensitive people, self-soothing is a life raft. Learning how to effectively self-soothe during moments of upset may not come naturally to everyone and can require thought and action. A stress response is a natural part of our survival pattern. Creating sensations that say there is no emergency helps calm the body’s alert system so the brain can regain its ability to think and plan. If you are sipping hot tea under a soft blanket or lazing in a bubble bath, then there must be no reason to run at full speed to the nearest cave!
Whatever the reason or origin of emotional sensitivity, self-soothing can help. Marsha Linehan recognized the importance of self-soothing and included these skills when she developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Self-soothing is part of finding a middle ground, a gray area, between being detached or numb and experiencing an emotional crisis or upheaval. Allowing yourself to experience the uncomfortable emotions (without feeding them and making them more intense) enables the emotions to pass. Soothing yourself helps you tolerate the experience without acting in ways that are not helpful in the long run, or blocking the emotions, which makes the emotions grow larger or come out in ways you didn’t intend.
Here is a lovely article about noticing how babies and adults self-soothe.
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