When you were a child, you sometimes fell down. Most likely, one or both of your parents would come running, scoop you up, look at your “boo-boo” and say in a concerned voice, “Are you okay?” Then, they gave you a hug.
Depending on the situation, you may have received your parents’ full attention for the next hour or more. Perhaps they played games with you, sang to you or just watched your favorite television show with you.
If parents weren’t quite that consistently attentive, maybe they simply checked on you a little more often than usual to make sure you were okay. In essence, your parents were soothing you to help you to feel better so you would recover from your fall: mentally, emotionally, and physically. And after all that soothing, your little life went on.
Now, you’re an adult. You might be on your own or living with your spouse. Your parents aren’t right there with you to help calm you when life delivers challenging situations.
Who will soothe you, then? It’s great to have support of your friends and family members. And of course, it’s healthy to call on those people when you need them. But when you face some of life’s challenges and no other person can be there to help, you can soothe yourself.
Suggestions for Taking Care of Your own Emotions: How to Self-Soothe
- Acknowledge your feelings. “I’m hurt because of what happened today” or, “I feel sad because my relationship isn’t going well.” Recognise that you’re going through a rough spot right now.
- Ask yourself: “What can I do to help myself get through this situation and feel better?”
- Think about your favourite activity or hobby. Maybe you love to read. Tell yourself you’ll be sure to read at least an hour a day as a way to self-soothe.
- Give yourself an outlet for your feelings. If you have a journal, write down your emotions every day for a while as a way to let them out. Call a good friend or family member to share your feelings, too.
- It’s okay to cry. Crying is a normal human expression of feelings. Typically, crying lasts just a few minutes. Crying cleanses you emotionally and helps you to let go of sadness, anger, guilt, and many other feelings. Afterwards, you feel some relief and can more easily move on with your day.
- Have your favourite cup of tea or coffee. But be cautious about self-soothing with too much food, too frequently.
- Allow yourself time to have fun with others. Call a friend to play tennis. Or go for a hike. Go fishing with your brother. Do something you enjoy together.
- Tell yourself, “I’m going to be okay.” Remind yourself that you’ll be stronger and smarter after you get through this situation. Think positive.
- Make a conscious decision to move on with your life. Tell yourself that you’re ready to let go and leave the challenging situation behind you. If you’ve resolved it within yourself, you will move forward.
Learning to self-soothe is an important part of living a healthy adult life. Practice these suggestions when you recognise that you feel upset, hurt or disappointed. Take responsibility for soothing yourself through any challenging situation.
In the event you discover you need some assistance in self-soothing, consider contacting a professional to get some extra support through the process. In time, you’ll learn to soothe yourself and take care of your own feelings.