8 self-soothing habits to try in the new year

8 self-soothing habits to try in the new year

8 self-soothing habits to try in the new year

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By their very nature, negative thoughts can easily run wild and take over our lives. Something nasty someone has done in the past can rub shoulders with worries about finances, future career changes, or our long-term health. It can be difficult to eliminate thoughts about the situation if something stressful is going on. You might lose sleep or find yourself distracted throughout the day. This is where practicing self-soothing can help.

Self-soothing is a relaxing practice to distract us from negative thoughts and help us feel better. Examples could be breathing exercisesplaying uplifting music, taking up a mindfulness hobby like yoga or connect with others.

One study looked at oxytocin release and self-soothing behaviors. Oxytocin, a natural hormone linked to feelings of well-being and anti-stress, is released in the brain from a series of low-intensity stimulation behaviors such as touching and petting, but it can also be liberated by globally pleasant situations. Self-soothing is the release of feel-good hormones by consciously choosing pleasurable activities.

For more mental health advice, see how gratitude improves your mental health and tips for dealing with depression while on vacation.

Below are eight ways to practice self-calming techniques to lift your spirits and disrupt feelings of stress.

8 self-soothing techniques to use today

The next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try using one of our favorite self-soothing techniques.

Make good use of your breathing

Try some breathing techniques to help you focus away from negative thoughts. Deep breathing and more breathing exercises can help distract us from negative thoughts and increase feelings of relaxation. Some calming techniques that use breathing include:

Diaphragmatic breathing: This exercise helps us use our diaphragm to increase deep breathing. The diaphragm is a muscle under the lungs, and using it to breathe properly is associated with lower blood pressure and heart rate while improving relaxation, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

To practice diaphragmatic breathing:

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent or supported by a pillow. Also, have your head supported. You can also do it sitting down.

2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage.

3. Inhale through your nose as deeply as you can. You should feel your stomach heaving or expanding, while the hand on your chest should stay relatively still.

4. Exhale through your mouth exhaling completely. Make sure the hand on your chest stays as still as possible.

5. Repeat for as long as you feel is necessary to feel relaxed or for the time you have.

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Square breathing: Another method is Square Breathing, which relies on counting to focus thoughts and achieve the relaxing benefits of slow breathing. With this method, simply exhale completely. Then inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four. Hold that breath, again counting to four. Exhale for a count of four through your mouth, then hold your breath for a count of four. Repeat for the entire duration of the exercise.

Pursed-lip breathing: Another popular breathing technique is pursed-lip breathing. This technique forces you to exert more effort to breathe, thus slowing down your breathing and helping you to focus only on your breathing. To perform this technique, first exhale completely, then inhale twice through your nose. Purse or purse your lips as if you were going to whistle. Then exhale slowly for a count of four. Repeat for as long as comfortable or necessary.

If you have chronic or temporary nasal congestion, feel free to breathe through your mouth when the instructions tell you to breathe through your nose.

Practice the 5-4-3-2-1 technique

This is a coping mechanism for anxiety. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the method involves grounding yourself in the present so you can focus on something other than anxious thoughts. It forces you to recognize things in your immediate surroundings. To perform the exercise, follow these steps:

5: Recognize five things you can see around you. It can be anything from floor to ceiling fan.

4: Recognize four things around you that you can touch, such as your hair or the ground.

3: Recognize three things around you that you can hear, such as air coming out of a furnace vent or a bird outside.

2: Recognize two things you can smell, like hand lotion or you can even check the smell of the pillow in your bedroom.

1: Recognize one thing you can taste, such as the lingering taste of lunch foods or a minty taste when brushing your teeth.

Use your inner dialogue for self-validation

This is also called positive self-talk. We can easily fall into negative self-talk, which can include anything from mentally beating ourselves up over perceived mistakes to worrying about negative judgments others might have. Positive self-talk redirects those thoughts into a more positive state of mind.

Finding a good set of self-talk lines is a very personal experience. You will usually need to address specific insecurities or find phrases that resonate with you. Practicing self-talk usually involves reversing negative thoughts that make you feel bad. For example, instead of thinking about how embarrassed you are, remember that you took a chance and were brave to try.

To start, some common and general positive self-talk phrases include:

“I can do it.”

“I’m good enough.”

“I can try again if I make a mistake.”

“I do the best I can.”

“I’m doing my best.”

Try looking for positive phrases and see which ones resonate with you. One or two may jump out at you, and you can try relying on them to see how they make you feel. Try as many as you need to see which sticks. Consider working with a therapist to reduce negative self-talk and work on phrases that are appropriate for your situation.

Change environment

Sometimes something in our environment can bring us down. It can be as simple as having less daylight during the winter, so you can consider lamps that mimic natural sunlight.

Sometimes, if we expose ourselves to too much negative media, it can also turn our general outlook towards the negative. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a study showed that media exposure to COVID-19 news was linked to levels of anxiety and subjective loneliness. You don’t need to completely cut out all stressful media, but it can help to regulate your weekly consumption or use tools that manage media exposure, like apps that help you limit the time you spend on media. social networks.

You might also work to change your immediate surroundings. Paint your walls to soothing tonesredesign your home with more uplifting and colorful decor or even just clean his room can make a big difference. Play around to see which decoration choices lift your mood.

Create a must-read playlist

Music can help improve our mood. You’ve probably already felt the joy of rocking out to your favorite music. Create a playlist of all your wellness favorites.

Remember to branch out and try new genres, songs, and artists. You might find your new favorite song that will never fail to lift your spirits. Creating a playlist of all the new songs can also orient you to the present moment, instead of listening to a song that reminds you of the past.

Kiss someone (or yourself)

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Above, we discussed how touch could help you release feel-good hormones. As such, try to physically connect with someone you love. Give them a hug, or even try a hug.

Hugging might feel strange, but it can ease pain and improve your mood. To hug, wrap your arms around yourself in the most comfortable way, rest your hands on your shoulders or upper arms, and hug as long as needed. You could give a hard hug if that’s what you need right now, or a softer, more soothing hug.

Try gently stroking your shoulders or forearms to get the feeling of touch. You can do this by hugging or not.

Try a Mindful Hobby

You can also look for a hobby that orients you in the present moment or is associated with calming practices. For example, anything that incorporates deep breathing can help add feelings of relaxation, such as meditation, yoga, qigong, or tai chi. You can also try meditation apps.

Look for other hobbies that can improve your mood by going outside, such as walking, gardening, or bicycling. These activities can also be mindful if you focus as much as possible on the present moment while doing them.

Journal your feelings

Finally, try writing down your feelings, which can help us cope with anxiety, depression, and stress, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. You might try keeping a journal of how you feel and why, and writing down ways to help you feel better or solve problems.

You can also find many books or articles to help you write from a prompt. These often start with questions that you then answer. They are meant to help you reflect and often focus on your personal growth. For example, some prompts ask you to describe your perfect day, your ideal home, or your goals for the future. Some prompts even help you work social anxiety. Try searching for anti-anxiety journal prompts.

Try some general journal prompts to help you focus on the positives in your life. A common prompt is “Today I am grateful for…”

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.


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