When difficult feelings arise, it’s natural to want to soothe, calm and relax ourselves. Unfortunately, while habits like drinking, smoking, overeating, or shopping can temporarily numb us from something challenging to feel or face, it comes with a high price tag. The issue remains, and now there are additional consequences to deal with because of the “method of mass distraction” we chose to temporarily keep those feelings at bay.
On the other hand, making constructive choices can help you face challenges and build your self-confidence. Here are 15 healthier ways to handle these feelings when they arise.
How to Soothe Yourself by Changing Your Thinking
- Accept your feelings. Embracing uncomfortable emotions is the first step in being able to process them. Instead of denying anger, jealousy, frustration, loneliness or any other feelings you’re experiencing, you can acknowledge the situation and decide how to address it.
- Cultivate gratitude. Being grateful instantly brightens your outlook. Count your blessings and express your appreciation. There’s always something to be grateful for, even if it’s simply that you’re alive and breathing.
- Slow down. Bring racing thoughts under control. Even a few deep breaths or a few minutes of meditation can clear away mental clutter.
- Be mindful. Stay in the present moment (which is the only moment we have control over anyway). Give your full attention to one task at a time. You’ll accomplish more and stay more focused on what needs attention at the time.
- Accentuate the positive. When you evaluate opportunities, pay attention to the potential gains as well as the risks. Adjust your self-talk to reinforce your confidence and motivate you to move ahead. You choose to see if the glass is half empty or half full.
- Use mental imagery. Picture yourself lying on a sandy beach, sipping tea in a cozy café or putting yourself in whatever scenario helps you feel calm and grounded. Engage your other senses by imagining the related sounds and smells as well.
- Follow your faith. Find strength in your spiritual beliefs and practices. Adversity can help you develop insights, remember your purpose and encourage you to see that there may be more to what you’re experiencing than what you currently see.
How to Soothe Yourself by Changing Your Routines
- Develop a healthy outlet for your stress. Activities that create a sense of flow are more relaxing and productive than watching TV. Find pleasure in engaging your creativity through writing, music, building, dancing or whatever else may inspire you.
- Exercise regularly. Moving reduces physical and mental symptoms of stress. Go for a long walk, dance, do yoga, play tennis with a friend or find another activity that gets you moving.
- Check your posture. Scan your body for tight spots. Stretch out your neck and limbs. Squeeze your muscles together, and then open up to release any anxiety that has been building up. Stand tall, lower your shoulders, and open your chest.
- Eat healthier. Eating a healthy diet makes you more resilient, energetic and clear. It’s also a proactive step where you’re taking control, which can be so helpful when other aspects of life seem to be spinning out of control.
- Sleep well. Rest is also essential for health, mood and clarity. Go to bed and wake up on a consistent schedule. Darken your bedroom, shut down the tech, and block out background noises as best you can.
- Connect with others. Build a strong support network. Spend time with family and friends. Make time for sharing laughter and heart-to-heart talks. Ask for help when you’re struggling, and take your mind off your own worries by looking for ways to serve others.
- Listen to music. Music has a powerful effect on how you feel. Cheer yourself up by listening to music that makes you feel good.
- Breathe deeply. Using your breath to lower stress is fast and free, and you can do it anywhere. Create a slow, gentle rhythm as you pay attention to the air entering and exiting your nostrils. Imagine breathing in calming thoughts and exhaling anything distressing.
Stress is a part of life, but you can protect your health and wellbeing by the way you respond when things feel like they’re falling apart. Soothe yourself with calming thoughts and activities that restore your balance and deepen your peace of mind.
Founder and CEO, The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute