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11 Self-Soothing Techniques for Adults

Self-soothing probably sounds like something you’d read about in a parenting book. But the fact of the matter is, learning how to comfort yourself is an important life skill that every adult should have in their mental health toolbox. When we’re feeling anxious or distressed, it can be easy to seek comfort from harmful behaviors such as overeating and smoking. By practicing healthy self-soothing techniques instead, you can empower yourself to work through your daily stressors without making problems worse in the long-term.

What Is Self-Soothing?

Self-soothing is a therapeutic strategy that involves doing activities that calm your mind and body in times of distress. If you’re feeling anxious, upset or burned out, it can be beneficial to know a few techniques that can help you get back to a calmer, happier state.

People of all different ages and backgrounds rely on self-soothing techniques to get them through trying times. In fact, you may have practiced self-soothing before you were even born! Many babies learn to comfort themselves by sucking their thumb, often while they’re still in the womb.

11 Self-Soothing Techniques 

Self-soothing doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, it could be as simple as wrapping yourself in a weighted throw blanket and diving into a good book. 

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Here are a few self-soothing techniques to get you started:

  1. Take an Epsom salt bath. Who doesn’t love taking a warm bath after a long day? Pour some Epsom salt into your bath and let it soothe your tense muscles. For extra stress-relief, step into a weighted bathrobe designed to boost your serotonin and melatonin.
  2. Light a candle. There’s something about lighting a candle that makes a space feel extra cozy and comfortable. Choose a scent that will make you happy and calm. If you’re trying to relax, you can’t go wrong with a eucalyptus or lavender soy candle. (Hint: You can also use your candle to meditate!)
  3. Make yourself laugh. Distract yourself with a funny movie or a comedy special on Netflix. You can also make a YouTube playlist of funny videos for days when you feel stressed or sad. 
  4.  looking out window under blankets

  5. Cuddle up with a weighted blanket. Cozy blankets always have a way of making us feel safer and more secure, and this is especially true for weighted blankets. These popular blankets use deep pressure touch, a technique that has been shown to calm the nervous system and help the user sleep more soundly. The next time you’re feeling panicky, give one a try to see if it helps!
  6. Practice deep breathing. Close your eyes, let go of any tension you may feel and take a deep breath. Your belly should expand and fall as you breathe in and out.
  7. Visualize a peaceful image. This can be anything, from your grandmother’s house in the summertime to your furry friend happily frolicking through a meadow. Pair your peaceful image with deep breathing techniques. 
  8. Listen to music. Blast your favorite tunes and dance like nobody’s watching. Not in the mood to dance? Listen to relaxing music while lying in bed instead. If you’re winding down for bed, consider wearing a weighted sleep mask to block out light.
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  10. Adopt a calming phrase. Repeating positive words and phrases to yourself every day can help boost your confidence and lower your stress. You can make up a calming phrase yourself or look for positive affirmations online.
  11. Play with a pet. Stroking or touching a pet has been scientifically proven to calm and soothe you when you’re feeling anxious. Don’t have a pet of your own? Get your snuggle time in by volunteering at your local animal shelter. You can also download Borrow My Doggy, an app that connects dog owners with dog sitters and walkers.
  12. Go for a walk. Research has shown that walking helps trigger the release of endorphins, the mood-boosting chemicals in our brain that make us feel happier. For double the relaxation benefits, use meditation techniques while you walk.
  13.  Let yourself cry. Many of us have been conditioned to avoid crying, especially in public. But the truth is, turning on the waterworks is an excellent self-soothing technique. Not only does crying release oxytocin and other feel-good chemicals, but it also flushes out stress hormones and other toxins from the body. 

 woman wearing weighted mask

Calm Your Stress and Anxiety with Self-Soothing Techniques

Finding the best self-soothing techniques can take a bit of trial and error. That’s because we all deal with anxiety and stress in different ways. Keep experimenting until you find techniques that work best for you.