7 Ways To Soothe And Settle Stress
Life is full of responsibilities and at times, stress feels inevitable. We will all have times when the emotional or cognitive stress gets too much for us, when we get stuck on certain thoughts, problems or situations and just can’t seem to get them out of our heads.
We can experience feelings and sensations in our bodies associated with this stress, ranging from irritability to complete overwhelm. At these times it can be easy to turn to habitual behaviours to lift our energy or to calm ourselves down, things like caffeine, nicotine, food or alcohol. Self-soothing is simply the act of calming our internal system down, and there are a whole variety of ways this can be done. It’s a matter of finding ways that work well for you as an individual and creating new and healthier habits for yourself to help you deal with stress.
Here are seven for you to trial, and see how they go for you:
1. Walk Mindfully
This isn’t about power walking at all. It is more about turning your attention to all the little processes and actions that comprise walking.
Notice how long your stride is, how the pressure transfers through the soles of your feet as you shift weight from heel to toe and from left foot to right foot. Be aware of your breath and the rhythm of your breathing. Notice how each breath in is followed by a breath out and then another breath in. Inhale deeply for the count of three or four, and then try to exhale for the count of five or six. Can you hear your breathing? What else can you hear as you walk? What can you see? Try describing what you can see to yourself, as if you were describing it to someone wearing a blindfold. Do you feel any breeze against your face or limbs? Can you feel the warmth of sunrays on your face, arms, legs? Can you feel the cells in your body invigorating? The stress and anxiety melting slowly away with every step?
2. Visual Scan —Rainbow
Look around your environment for things with each of the colours of the rainbow (you don’t need to be too specific about the shades of colours, this is just a starting point). Find something red, orange, blue, yellow etc. You can also try looking for letters or numbers in nature. Look at a tree trunk, what patterns or shapes can you discover hidden in the bark?
3. Burst of Activity
Get your heart rate up quickly, just for a few minutes. Have a quick but energetic groove to your favourite song or whatever is currently playing. Do some burpees, star jumps or jumping jacks. Grab a skipping rope or hula hoop and play. Play with a pet (the more active the better). Any sort of activity really, then let your body soothe your heart rate back to a calm state.
4. Downward Dog Yoga Pose
This gets the blood running to your head, carrying heaps of oxygen with it, and can help “reset” those racing thoughts.
5. Free Journaling
Write down all the words that come to mind, all those words that describe how stress or any negative emotions or events are making you feel. It doesn’t have to make sense or be in sentences. Free journaling is simply letting your thoughts and emotions just spill out rather than trying to hold on to them or suppressing them.
6. Wash Your Hands, Mindfully
Notice all the little things, the temperature of the water, the pressure of the water, the feel of the hand wash, the fragrance of the soap, the bubbles. Wash a finger at a time, almost like a mini hand massage. Rinse off and notice the texture of the towel, or notice the sensation of letting your hands air-dry. And once you are done, begin to notice how physically cleaning your hands, seems to emotionally and mentally wash away that internal icky feeling too.
7. Change Your Temperature
Cool down with a cold washcloth across your neck, rub ice cubes on your wrists or soles of your feet, or my personal favourite, put an ice cube inside your belly button and watch it slowly melt and drizzle down your tummy! Warm up with a fragrant heat bag across your neck and shoulders or jump in a really warm shower or bath (bonus points if you use bubbles or bath salts!). Get changed into your pyjamas, put on some cosy socks or slippers, or wrap yourself tight in a doona.
These seven things, although little, are capable of having an immense impact on your stress and anxiety levels. Sometimes we don’t even notice how much tension we are holding until we actively allow ourselves to let it go.
Try one of these techniques, or try them all!
Find out which one works for YOU.
Love and light,
* Results from BAM may vary. Strict adherence to the program is required for best results.