How To Help Myself
When emotions run high, when you are faced with painful or distressing situations or memories, your system responds to cope or to survive. There are a range of things you may experience, like emotional shock or numbness, heart racing or palpitations, rapid shallow breathing, sweating, weakness or dizziness, fear, anxiety, or panic, or feeling overwhelmed or like you are losing control.
When you feel like this there are some things you can do to help calm and settle yourself.
The following strategies may help, but if you find things do not settle, you are encouraged to talk to someone like a trusted family member, friend or pastor, or seek help from a health professional or counsellor.
Journaling is a way to express thoughts and feelings by free uncensored writing or drawing. Journaling can help release and clarify thoughts and feelings. It is important that your journal is private unless you choose to share it with someone you trust.
This deep breathing technique helps to slow down your breathing. When done effectively it can help lessen anxiety as well.
Breathe in through your nose 1, 2, 3, 4 evenly whilst gently allowing your abdomen to rise as you fill your lungs and as your chest expands
Hold 1 and 2
Breathe out through your mouth 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 evenly and gently allowing abdomen to fall
You can also mindfully breathe as you take a walk down the street or around the garden, or as you are listening to relaxing music or doing gentle exercises, or even as you are doing everyday activities.
When you find yourself getting panicky, very anxious, thoughts racing or zoning out or dissociating, then consciously practise grounding yourself. Grounding can help to restore you to a more peaceful and present state.
Do the deep breathing technique above, and as you breathe more deeply and slowly, find and focus on
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell (or smells you like that you can remember)
1 pleasant emotion you have felt recently
Self Soothing Ideas
There are lots of ways you can soothe yourself when you are experiencing heighted emotions using vision, touch, hearing, smell and taste.
Vision: light a candle and watch the flame, look at a landscape painting or picture and imagine yourself there, go outside at night and watch the stars, watch something nice on TV.... Be mindful of each sight that passes in front of you as you go about your day.
Touch: have a long shower of bath, pat your pet, use a cold compress on your forehead, sink into a really comfortable chair, hug someone you care about, squeeze a stress ball... Experience whatever you are touching; notice touch that is soothing.
Hearing: listen to some soothing music as you are resting, or invigorating music if you are active, pay attention to the sounds of nature (birds, rainfall, leaves rustling), listen to or sing your favourite songs, talks with someone and really listen to what they are sharing.... Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, learning to let them come in one ear and go out the other.
Smell: use your favourite spices when you cook, have some lavender or other essential oils in potpourri or burners around, smell roses or other scented flowers as you pass by, smell the early morning dew, the smell of the forest or sea as you go walking.... Mindfully breathe in any smells you come across, noticing and being fully aware of them as you do.
Taste: have a good meal, enjoy your favourite non-alcoholic drink, sample different flavours of ice cream or sweets, or savouries or any food you eat.... Mindfully taste the food you eat, eat and drink slowly and savour the tastes, noticing how things really taste.
There are lots of things you can do that can give you temporary relief from distressing emotions or painful memories or overthinking things or being overly worried about everything. The thing is to try to be as present as you can be, in the moment, as you are doing things. Some things you could try include:
Exercise, sport, hobbies (colouring, painting, reading, woodwork, puzzles)
Home and garden projects
Visiting a friend
Volunteer work or help someone else
Surprise gestures for someone you love
Push situation away leaving it for a while mentally; build imaginary wall between self and the situation; put pain in a box and shelve it for a while
Refuse to think on painful aspects, divert mind to something positive
Rubber band on wrist, pull and let go, hold ice in hand