The goal with self-soothing skills is to comfort yourself emotionally by doing things that are sensually pleasant and especially, not harmful. Self-soothing is very important when you are grieving intensely.
I’d like to acknowledge that self-soothing isn’t easy when you are in a tremendous amount of pain. Often when we feel this type of pain, we prefer to punish or hurt ourselves, for example: poor nutrition or not eat at all, excessive smoking and drinking or drug use. In a worst-case scenario self-harming behaviours, such as cutting.
When we focus our awareness on sensory inputs such as taste, touch, hear, smell and seeing we can direct our attention on what we are physically experiencing in the moment. This is a form of mindfulness. This helps take us out of our head and away from troubling thoughts, feelings and impulses. I am an absolute advocate of feeling our feelings, yet there are times that we need to take a break and give our mind, body and spirit a little rest.
The skills and techniques listed below are a starting point only. Everyone has to find what works for them, and it may be things that are not listed below.
Maybe over the next few days and weeks you can focus your awareness on some self-soothing techniques that can support you and give your body the time out that it needs. Remember grief takes a huge toll on your overall wellbeing.
In your journal leave a few pages to make notes of some of the self-soothing techniques that you have used and how your mind, body and spirit are responding to them. This will give you some idea on what is working and what is not working for you. Once you know what is working, you can keep using these techniques.
Self-Soothing With Vision
- Buy flowers or pick one from the garden
- Make an area in a room look bright and pretty
- Light a candle and watch the flame
- Set a pretty place at the table for dinner
- Go to an art museum and admire the creativity of others
- Look at all of nature around you
- Go out at night and watch the stars
- Walk in a pretty part of town or a botanical garden
- Watch your favourite movie
- Bird watch
Self-Soothing With Hearing
- Listen to soothing music or dance music
- Pay attention to the sounds of nature (waves, birds, rainfall, leaves rustling)
- Sing your favourite songs out loud
- Hum a soothing tune
- Learn to play an instrument
Self-Soothing With Smell
- Wear your favourite perfume or essential oils
- Light a scented candle or incenses
- Boil cinnamon
- Bake cookies, cake, or bread
- Smell the roses or flowers
- Walk in nature and mindfully breathe in the fresh smells of nature
Self-Soothing With Taste
- Have a healthy meal
- Have your favourite soothing drink such as herbal tea or hot chocolate (no alcohol)
- Treat yourself to your favourite dessert or cake
- Suck on a piece of peppermint candy
- Chew your favourite gum
- Treat yourself to your favourite meal
- Eat chocolate (not too much)
- Really taste the food you eat, eat mindfully
Self-Soothing With Touch
- Have a bubble bath or long warm shower
- Put clean sheets on the bed
- Pat or cuddle your dog or cat
- Have a massage
- Soak your feet
- Put creamy lotion on your whole body
- Wrap your face in a very warm, damp facecloth (wonderfully relaxing)
- Sink into a really comfortable chair or lounge
- Put on a silky blouse/shirt, dress, or scarf
- Hug someone
Your mind, body and spirit deserve some quality time to rejuvenate and heal while you are grieving the significant loss of your (loved one).
I really hope that some of the above techniques give you some relief and support you while you are in pain.