Updated: Dec 21, 2019
Trying to find the calm in yourself is a way of self-soothing. Self-soothing is a relaxation skill that will provide you with the ability to calm yourself using your senses.
Self soothing is yet another tool for you to put into your basket of ways to calm yourself after the storm has passed. Self-soothing will not stop anxiety or stress from occurring nor is it a cure all, but it a grounding skill to be taught and practiced. In this article we will build a toolbox for you to add your self soothing items to, and keep them in a space that is quiet and where you can focus on just you. You will want to practice self-soothing alone as this is a time for you to learn to relax.
What is Self Soothing?
Self soothing is a method that you can use to calm down your senses that have been over stimulated, often due to a stress event.
Every sense should be accounted for when self soothing. I've listed several different ways for you to soothe each sense, please take the time to identify at least one of the suggestions that you feel will work for you to help you build your toolkit. Once you have picked at least one of the things from each sense it is a good idea to take those items and place them in a small Ziploc bag or a small tote that can be purchased for a dollar at a local dollar store. I will show you a picture of a completed self-soothing box at the end of the article too!
You’ll want to start by identifying something that is pleasing taste to you. I'm a fan of chocolate personally! Chose something that you can store in a box, so if you like salty things perhaps a small bag of pretzels or chips. If you lean towards something sweet, it can be whatever your favorite candy is, like a caramel, an bite sized candy from trick or treating, or even a mint. If you really like tart things, place a small piece of a sour candy in your box.
Be sure to print off what your visionary tool will be to assist you with being in the moment when you are using your toolbox.
There are so many different things to chose for your vision sense, if you do not have one that pops to mind, please go and search for one. Images can be accessed easily on the internet and if you are looking for something that is a moving visionary sense, you can always go to YouTube and download a clip that also has some relaxing music to accompany it, then you have covered two of the senses, vision and hearing. Please see hearing for an example of this. You can also access ASMR videos on YouTube to help with vision senses, hearing, and touch. Please do not use ASMR videos if they do not trigger a sense of relaxation. Please choose something that gives you a feeling of happiness and relaxation. Some examples are:
A picture of a vacation photo
A picture of your children/ family (only pick this if they relax you/bring happiness)
A picture of a beach
A picture of any landscape like a mountain, island, waterfall, cascading water, etc.
For hearing it can be difficult to actually add this to your toolbox, I typically suggest that you find some audio on your cell phone. Several free apps like YouTube, iHeart radio, Pandora, and Spotify have audio that is of relaxing sounds, like waterfalls, storms, or a babbling brook. Some of the ones on YouTube can even count for your vision. I simply went to YouTube and search for relaxing sound clips, and found hundreds of free clips. Here is one that I really liked. So once you have the clip that you like the best simply save it to your phone so you will have easy access to locate it and will not have struggle to search for one when you are trying to self soothe.
For touch you can use something as simply as your own hands, and massage your face or even put lotion on your arms, legs, and face. If you use lotion to do this store the lotion in you toolbox, and if you use a scented lotion this can also count for your sense of smell too. You can also use a massage tool you can also normally find these at a dollar store! I really enjoy the one below as it is small enough to go in the toolbox and it is for your scalp. It is easy to hold with one hand and simply massage your scalp, it feels great even if you don't have short or no hair, or so people have shared with me! Some people also use a weighted blanket for the sense o touch, but they can be pricey and hard to fit in the toolbox, but they are an option. If you are looking for one they can be found in retail stores and online now, which I think is fabulous as you used to have create one yourself.
If you are not a lotion person or feel odd massaging yourself without some instruction there are numerous ASMR video's on YouTube that illustrate some self massage of your face and hands. ASMR refers to the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and typically people feel a physical tingling sensation from this. If you are not familiar with ASMR please watch a short video or a few seconds of a video to see if you are gaining a sense of relaxation as with some individuals the videos may not be relaxing and may stimulate past trauma or anxiety, in that case please do not use ASMR as part of your toolbox. The video below is an example of an ASMR video. If you go the route of using a video for this please make sure that you are saving your video of choice so that you do not have to search for it when trying to self soothe.
Smell is our last sense, and I purposely put it last as it can be covered by other things you have in your tool box already, like scented lotion, or the smell of the food item you have in your toolbox. If that does not cover the sense of smell or if you want something that represents smell in your toolbox here are a few things that you can add to your toolbox.
Perfume/Cologne (even a spray of your favorite on a blank piece of paper will do)
Scented spray (like the Glade sprays)
Most of the items for your toolbox you probably already have in your home so do not feel the need to go out and spend money on the items that you are going to put in your toolbox, if you do not have items shop at a dollar store as you can find most of these items that will be low cost to you. For those items that you save on your phone for this kit, put a reminder sticky note in your box that you need to get these items off from your phone, as often when we are in the space that we need to self-soothe we are experiencing some level of stress and we can be forgetful of the items we saved on our phones! This should be a simply box that you can stuff under your bed or put on a shelf someplace that you will have access to when you need to self-soothe. Put together your toolbox when you are not in a state of high stress as even putting together the toolbox is a good distraction for you. Here is a pic of my toolbox so you can visualize it better!
If you have any questions about this tool box feel free to send me a message.