Are you ever told you are “too sensitive” (or maybe it feels more like an accusation)? Or told to stop taking taking “things so seriously”? Or find yourself feeling overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and isolation? You are not alone – you are part of those empathic people who have not had the opportunity to learn how to to self-soothe. Self- soothing is often taught by their parents who would ideally offer re-assurance that things will get better through physical affection and comforting words. Not all parents are able to do this as this is foreign to their own growing up experience. This may have left them anxious and that sense of anxiety is passed on unintentionally.
Here is the good news: self-soothing strategies can be learned. It just takes being introduced to the strategies and then consistently practicing them. This helps you to reduce the experience of stressful anxiety and instead “chill out”!
Your Menu of Self-Soothing Strategies (try them on and find out which works for you!)
#1: Exhale out your tension
When stress hits – it is important to dislodge it as soon as possible. How? By taking slow deep breaths through your nose and then slowly release it through your mouth. Continue to repeat this breathing process slowly until the tension is relieved.
#2: Talk kindly to yourself
What would you say to your best friend? You would probably tell him or her “that is will be okay” and “that you will get through this”. You might even remind them of other successes they have achieved in the face of difficult situations. You intention would be to let your positive messages override those negative, nagging doubts that pop into most of our minds during times of stress. A best friend treats you with compassion and is reassuring that this is a passing state. Guest what? Your very best friend is YOU!!
#3: Use the power of noticing
When the stress bubbles up and starts spilling over, it can feel overwhelming. This is when the power of noticing is so helpful. Noticing is about standing back and taking an observer role. Instead of being “in the trees” and feeling lost and fearful, noticing helps you to get an “aerial” perspective. From this perspective, allows you to realize you are bigger and stronger than your feelings/emotions. It gives you balance and a path forward.
#4: Yield your sense of being responsible for others
Being sensitive often means being aware of others and their struggles. It can be tempting to step-in and rescue (rather than help) others whether they ask you to do so or not. It is important to let others struggle and find their own way – this does not diminish your caring or sense of worth. Instead it honours another person;s need to learn lessons about themselves and to discover their own abilities and strengths. (Rescuing is taking over a problem and helping is contributing with the person with the problem taking as much responsibility for it as possible).
#5: Recall when you overcame your anxiety and do it again
It can be extremely empowering to recall past experience in which you successfully dealt with a stressful and anxiety-provoking situation. Now bringing this successful strategy forward to the present and repeating what you did then. Often a successful strategy is worth repeating because you know it has the potential of working again and again.
#6: The power of the heart touch
Often in the practice of meditation, an act of quieting your thoughts through physical stillness and slow deep breathing, the participant places their hand over their heart. The heart is located in the centre of the chest with a tilt to the left. When you gentle place your hand over this centre of unconditional love, biochemicals called “endorphins” are released throughout your body for a state of bliss.
#7: Practice self-compassion
Our thoughts are very powerful and strongly influence our sense of self. So it becomes crucial to be understanding and gentle with yourself. After all, who knows better than anyone the effort it took for you do a particular action. Self-appreciation in form of compassion is a valuable trait to practice. So be complimentary toward yourself – this will encourage you to treat your self better instead of being negative and demanding. You are enough!
#8: Use your senses
Our senses can serve us well. For example, many find essential oils that are airborne give off a fragrance that can be soothing and leave you feeling calmer. For example, lavender essential oils sprayed on your pillow before bed can be helpful in relaxing people as they drift to sleep. Alternatively, when awake you can put a drop between your eyebrows (the third eye) to calm you during the day.