Self-soothing refers to carrying out acts of love and compassion towards oneself, especially during times of distress and difficult emotionality. Self-soothing is usually implemented via one or more of the five senses: visuals, sounds, sensations, smells and tastes. The function of self-soothing is to edge towards regulating oneself by acting in a way that may feel unfamiliar and counter-intuitive, but that is actually healthy and effective. An example for me would be during periods of anxiety – during which I tend to pick incessantly at my cuticles and nails. The “opposite action to emotion (of anxiety)” that I try to carry out during these moments is one of self-love and self-care, despite how unsettled I may be feeling inside and my urges to subtly attack myself: The action of applying a scented moisturiser to my hands and focusing on the senses of smell and touch helps me to stop clawing at my hands and hurting myself. And instead treat my body, and in turn my mind, with compassion.

During therapy last week, my therapist observed that (for the most part) I struggle with implementing regular self-soothing techniques for myself. The homework she gave me was therefore to compile a list of self-soothing activities which I can then start to integrate into my life.

Here is a realistic and individualised list of ideas I have come up with so far:

  • Take a long hot bubble bath
  • Light candles and incense and turn my room into a sanctuary
  • Watch the flame of a candle mindfully for ten minutes
  • Listen to a mindfulness meditation
  • Phone my Boston friends and treatment providers for a chat
  • Cuddle my dogs or little sisters
  • Do some writing or draft a blog post
  • Watch funny videos on the Internet
  • Watch my all-time favourite documentary Human Planet
  • Turn my phone off and read a gripping book
  • Play Scrabble with my Mum
  • Dot lavender oil onto my pillows and sheets and inhale the scent
  • Snuggle with my teddy bears curled up in bed with a warm duvet
  • Get into my onesie/ dressing gown for comfort
  • Go outside and spend ten minutes being mindful on the swing
  • Make myself a hot and yummy drink
  • Listen to beautiful soothing music
  • Do some colouring or crafts
  • Walk to my “special place” in the woods
  • Lie on the fresh grass with the sun on my face and get in touch with nature
  • Play piano
  • Go on a gentle scooter ride
  • Take the dogs for a walk
  • Look through old (non-triggering) photos
  • Read through my Goodbye Book from Boston and validate my progress
  • Remind myself of all the people who truly care about me
  • Buy myself some flowers to put in my bedroom
  • Cook myself a healthy tasty meal, and eat it slowly and mindfully
  • Go swimming
  • Have a nap
  • Treat myself to a massage
  • Go outside at night and look at the stars
  • Paint my nails
  • Moisturise with pleasantly scented skin lotion

2 thoughts on “Self-Soothing 

  1. Pingback: A Little Slump, And That’s Okay | Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

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