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Did you know that self soothing for adults is extremely important? Transitioning into your teen and adult years means you won’t always have the same abundance of support you had as a child.
You encounter problems that require you to resolve them on your own, instead of someone holding your hand along the way.
This increased independence is exactly why self soothing for adults is SO crucial!
It can be challenging to understand how to self soothe, or to even identify when it’s important to self soothe. Depending on the nature of a problem you’re facing, it’s not always feasible for friends or family to help you. Sometimes, decisions are something you must make on your own.
This is where you have to turn to self soothing strategies that will guide you in the right direction and uplift you when you’re struggling.
This post is all about self soothing for adults.
What Is Self Soothing and Why Is it Crucial For Adults?
Self soothing is the ability to calm ourselves down after experiencing something stressful or as we anticipate a stressful event. It is a way in which we self-heal and manage to relieve our anxieties.
Emma Chamberlain’s podcast “Anything Goes” inspired this topic. In her episode, “Traveling Alone,” she says:
“Whether it was by listening to music, or doing my skincare routine, or writing in a journal, or whatever it may have been…I had to figure out how to soothe myself. Proving to myself that I can do that is comforting because at the end of the day, you only really have you.”
She goes on to explain that feeling confident in your ability to comfort yourself can alleviate anxiety, as you show yourself that you aren’t reliant on others to alleviate your anxiety.
This is SUCH a good point. Throughout your adult life, there will be times where you’re either A. alone or B. facing a myriad of problems that would be too much for another person to take on and help you with.
In those cases, you have to learn how to be there for yourself and give yourself the support you need.
30 Self Soothing Techniques for Adults
These self soothing techniques for adults are beneficial for everyone: whether you struggle with anxiety, over-sensitivity, PTSD…or even if you don’t experience any of these.
But one thing we all experience is stress, so no matter your struggles, self soothing is essential! Enjoy these healthy and gentle self soothing techniques!
1. Conscious breathing
When stress hits, take this time to simply focus on your breathing. If you catch yourself breathing more rapidly or heavily, guide yourself through slow, deep breaths. Fully inhale and fully exhale.
Feel the tension escape your body with each exhale.
2. Listen to music
I would encourage you to listen to something soothing. Lately, I’ve been enjoying lo-fi beats. Some great things to punch into Spotify to find soothing playlists are terms like:
- “Lofi Beats”
- “Chill Vibes”
3. Engage in Positive Self-Talk
Treat yourself with kindness and be gentle. My favorite thing to tell myself is “this feels unpleasant now, but it will pass. It always does. Things will soon be okay. I am strong enough to get past this.”
When we’re stressed, our muscles contract. If you are constantly stressed and tense, muscle contraction can escalate to muscle tension, causing knots to form.
It can be as simple as using your hand to massage your forearms, shoulders, and neck. There are great tools out there as well, such as:
- A Gua Sha tool for kneading knots out in places like the neck.
- A massage ball that can be used throughout the body, such as in harder-to-reach places like the mid and lower back.
- An electric massager for your neck and shoulders
5. Spend time in nature
Lay out in an open field and watch the clouds pass by. Go on a walk in a wooded area. Sit in grass and self-reflect. Bringing visual calmness to your life by being in nature rather than in a crowded city area can help you feel less overstimulated.
6. Visualize yourself in a positive way
For example, if you’re worried about failing at something, close your eyes and imagine all the details associated with success at what you’re doing.
Imagine yourself sitting at your desk with your college degree framed on the wall next to you. Imagine feeling proud, accomplished, and content with where you’re at in life.
7. Use aromatherapy and essential oils
Smelling something pleasing can calm us down and feel more grounded. I love using an essential oil diffuser and I truly find that it helps me feel calmer throughout the day! The one below is a great choice!
8. Drink tea, chew gum, or suck on hard candy
Having a different taste in our mouth, or something to “do” as we chew gum or sip tea can help distract us a bit from stress.
9. Take a warm bubble bath
I often forget about this one, but the feeling of soaking in warm water and being away from distractions like our phones (or so I hope you don’t risk dropping your phone in the tub!) is so soothing.
These Philosophy brand shower gels smell AMAZING when used in a bubble bath. You’ve got to try them! They come in so many great scents.
10. Invest in a weighted blanket
This is different for everyone. I personally feel constrained with a weighted blanket, which only heightens my anxiety, but you might find that it feels grounding and comforting!
Below is a very well-rated weighted blanket!
11. Distract yourself with your favorite movie or TV show
I would opt for something light-hearted and not too heavy, like a comedy. I’ve even watched old cartoons that I liked as a kid to shift my focus away from the present and enjoy the nostalgia!
12. Use a white noise machine as you go to sleep
Find a white noise machine with a good variety of sounds and you’ll be sure to find a sound that’s perfectly soothing for you!
Sometimes, silence at night can just exacerbate our racing thoughts. Having calming background noise can limit those pesky late-night thoughts that keep you up.
13. Place your hand over your heart
Calming physical gestures like these can provide great self comfort. Feel “in touch” with yourself by placing your hand on your heart and paying attention to your heartbeat or your breathing.
14. Exercise, then meditate after
If you have a lot of pent up tension and energy, especially from anxiety, I’ve found that the best way to bring myself back to a calm state is to get my body moving with exercise, and THEN put on some calming music while I meditate as a cool down.
There’s tons of information on how to meditate out there, but I focus on relaxing each part of my body, inhaling and exhaling fully, and thinking positive affirmations to myself.
15. Draw a picture of your favorite place
This could be a room, a restaurant, a tourist attraction, a national park, the beach….whatever you consider your “happy place,” draw a picture of it! Color it if you want! As you draw, envision yourself and think back to the positive memories associated with that place.
16. Make a “vision board”
Either digitally or physically, you can print out photos or put together a collage of photos online–something called a “vision board.” The purpose of a vision board is to manifest a certain mood, goal, or idea.
For example, put together a collage of positive photos–people smiling, warm vacation destinations, your favorite foods, cute clothes, bright colors. This will help shift your mindset.
17. Put on lotion or perfume
Again, smells can have such a calming and positive effect on you! Putting lotion on my arms and legs and having that smell carry me through my day puts me in a good frame of mind.
My current favorite lotion and perfume:
Anything from Bodycology!
Britney Spears Fantasy Perfume
18. Snuggle with a pet
Pets are sweet (well, except for my mean chihuahua), don’t argue with us, and make us feel loved. Taking the time to snuggle with a pet brings us joy and helps us forget about our stresses!
19. Stargaze and look for constellations
A great relaxing nighttime activity! There are apps out there that can help you identify constellations if that’s something you want to try. You can try out SkyView!
20. Journal your thoughts
You can either use guided journal prompts, or simply do a brain dump where you just start writing and let all your thoughts flow onto the paper.
Did you know that I offer a printable mental health journal?
As someone who’s always looking for ways to manage stress, I knew just how important it was to create a resource that will actually help you understand and improve your stress levels and coping habits.
Go check it out and add the printable mental health journal to your self care list!
21. Bake your favorite treat or cook your favorite meal
I find baking to be way less stressful and rushed than cooking, but whatever you prefer! This is a great way to immerse yourself in an involved activity and guide yourself away from anxious thoughts.
22. Change into your comfiest clothes
My mood immediately shifts if I change into pajamas when I get home. Bras and jeans aren’t fun!
23. Read fiction books
If you typically read personal development books and other nonfiction reads, you’re not really giving your brain a rest.
As much as I LOVE a good personal development book, fiction is where you can truly relax and get absorbed in a story that isn’t real life!
I’m currently reading The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close and I HIGHLY recommend it!
24. Eat food slowly and mindfully, without any distractions
If you’re a stress eater like me, you might eat faster than you should.
The next time you eat a meal or a snack, think about taking it easy and eating slower. Savor the flavor. Don’t rush. And do not multitask while you eat.
25. Watch ASMR videos
If you don’t know what ASMR is, it stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response,” which emits a tingling sensation typically on the scalp and neck.
There are videos with certain sounds that are meant to trigger ASMR, such as tapping, hair brushing, and whispering. Go search it on YouTube! It can be very relaxing.
26. Adjust the lighting
If you have dimmable lights or those cool LED lights that you can set the color of, make use of them! Having a color change to set a certain mood can put you in a different headspace.
I live for my LED lights and have them in my bedroom! My favorite color to set it to is purple because it feels super groovy.
27. Let yourself cry
If you have built up tension (or maybe haven’t had the TIME to cry, I’m not even joking, this has happened to me!) you should let yourself cry it out.
Even if you need some “help” getting there. For example, sometimes I’m not quite to the crying threshold but I feel like I need to cry. When this happens, I like to watch a sad movie to push myself to get the crying out.
Always feels like a HUGE relief after!
28. Gently stretch
Stretch out your shoulders, your calves, your hamstrings, your hips, the list goes on! Going through gentle stretches is a full-body calming experience.
If you’re new to stretching, I outline some good stretches to try in The Ultimate Exercise Routine for Boosting Mental Health.
29. Reframe negative thoughts
This is a SUPER crucial thing to do, technically called cognitive reappraisal. This will shift your mindset to create the habit of viewing negative situations with a “can-do” attitude.
For example, if you feel like you won’t get picked for the job you’re interviewing for, remind yourself that you ARE a worthy candidate for x, y, and z reasons. If you were well-prepared for the interview and gave it your best shot, pride yourself on that.
30. Accept the distress
Lastly, the more you fixate on negative thoughts or feelings, the more they become a significant focal point. We don’t want that!
Instead of fighting negative thoughts, just acknowledge them. Don’t try to “right” or “wrong” them–just let them be.
Sometimes if you fixate on negative emotions, you’ll start to feel “anxieties ABOUT your anxieties”! This is certainly not a fun feeling.
Be kind to yourself.
Did this help you learn something about the importance of self soothing for adults? Self soothing becomes a necessity as we grow more independent!
The next time you’re in a situation where you realize you need to manage your stress on your own, remember to try these self soothing techniques!
Let me know which ones you think would help you most!