Feeling anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed is incredibly normal. Life often creates circumstances where we may feel weighed down with these negative emotions, and that’s OK. However, it is important to know how to manage these feelings and keep them from dragging us down. Learning how to comfort yourself with self-soothing techniques is important for your mental health. If you’re unfamiliar with self-soothing, there are several techniques you can use at any time.
What Is Self-Soothing?
Self-soothing is defined as “a deliberate effort to calm oneself. It is an alternative to medications, alcohol, or drugs for managing anxiety and stress, eating disorders, or insomnia.”
While there may be times you might need to use medication to relieve anxiety or depression, self-soothing behaviors can help you calm your mind and feel at ease. Not every technique will work for everyone, so it’s important to discover which methods work best for you.
Below are just a few self-soothing methods you can use to comfort yourself and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
1. Engage In Positive Self-Talk
Just like you would with a good friend who’s having a hard time, talk positively to yourself. Allow yourself room for mistakes and remind yourself that things will be OK. Remember, you are bigger than the emotion you are feeling and you will overcome it.
Speaking positively and compassionately about ourselves isn’t easy. This list of ways to help you develop self-compassion is a good place to start.
2. Use Blankets
Wrapping yourself up in your favorite comfy blanket can help to calm your mind and slow your breathing. When you’re feeling especially anxious, grab a blanket or two and wrap yourself up.
Consider investing in a weighted blanket or purchasing a comfort blanket particularly for situations when you feel anxious. Textured blankets are also a great distraction from your feelings as they give you something else to focus on. We recommend a minky blanket from Sew Sweet. They’re incredibly soft and have dozens of colors, sizes, and textures to choose from.
3. Find the Right Noise Level
How loud your surroundings are can affect how you feel. While some may like having a small amount of noise in the background to keep anxious thoughts or loneliness at bay, others prefer total silence.
Most people find that a low level of noise is comforting. Listening to music, an audiobook, a podcast, or having the TV on in the background can help quiet the world and allow your mind to settle. Finding the right amount of noise for you is a great way to practice self-soothing.
4. Use Warmth
To help yourself relax, use things that help you feel warm. This could be soaking in a hot tub or shower, drinking a hot drink, or using a heating pad. Each of these can help you feel warm, comfortable, and relaxed, which can reduce the feelings of anxiety.
5. Get Your Body Moving
When you feel anxious or overwhelmed, your body creates a tremendous amount of energy that can make you feel restless. Release some of that energy by moving your body. Stretch, go for a walk or run, do some yoga poses, jump up and down—anything to help release some of that energy.
6. Download an App
There are dozens of apps to help you manage anxiety. Apps like Headspace, Rootd, or Calm are all designed to help you self-soothe using meditations, interactive games, and deep breathing.
You can also download games that are engaging and engrossing to help settle your mind. If you’re more of a visual person, there are dozens of videos on YouTube or shows on Netflix that you can binge on to help you calm down.
7. Let Yourself Cry
You may be surprised to see crying on a list of self-soothing techniques. However, crying can be incredibly cathartic. Often, feelings of anxiety and depression build up over time and soon you feel as if you’re ready to burst. Rather than suppress those feelings, let yourself cry. It’s a great way to clear those feelings out and build yourself back up.
No matter which one of these self-soothing techniques you decide to use, it’s important that you find one that works best for you. Understanding how to comfort yourself and move past feelings of anxiety can help you get back to enjoying your life.