Self-soothing Techniques Using the 5 Senses

What is self-soothing?

When something or someone brings you down, the weight can affect you mentally, physically, or both. Being upset, afraid, angry, or hurt by people or events can trigger body reactions. These emotions can increase your heart rate, cause shortness of breath, make you tremble, and so on. Self-soothing is a way to gently calm and lift yourself so that you can move past the pain and other feelings of negativity. Here are some easy self-soothing techniques using the five senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste) that can help you feel better, especially after an upsetting event.

Sense of Touch

Pet your cat or dog

Nothing compares to the joy of having fur babies. Pets, like cats and dogs, give their

‘hoomans’ unconditional love. According to a study, petting cats and dogs for at least 10 minutes reduces the amount of stress hormone – cortisol. In addition, the social interaction between people and pets increases levels of the feel-good hormone – oxytocin.

Hug someone

A hug – a way of showing affection – is universally comforting. When you embrace someone, it creates a feeling of calmness and reassurance. That’s because oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone”, rises when you hug someone.

Take a nice warm bath

A bath can help reduce levels of stress and improve your mood. A warm bath, especially on a cold day can make the blood flow easier, allow you to breathe deeper, and soothe sore muscles. Bathing in warm water also increases mood-regulating hormones such as serotonin.

Sense of taste

Melt your stress with ice-cream

Keep a tub of ice-cream in the freezer so you can dig in anytime, especially when you’re feeling low. Eating ice cream does not only cheer you up but creates a calming effect on the body and mind. Tasting something yummy, sweet, and cold triggers the brain to release endorphins which elevates the mood and reduces stress and anxiety.

Treat yourself to some dark chocolates

Never estimate the power of chocolates. Aside from its sugar component that improves mood, eating dark chocolates also triggers the release of mood-boosting compounds such as caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine.

Indulge in your favorite food

Taking a bite of your favorite food brings joy because it activates taste buds or the pleasure of taste. Every rewarding bite triggers the release of dopamine which creates a self-soothing effect. Whether it’s a sip of hot chocolate, a spoonful of your go-to dessert, or a serving of your comfort dish, the happy feeling attached to it does wonders.

Sense of hearing

Sing your favorite tune

A study shows that singing lowers cortisol, boosts dopamine, and makes you feel more relaxed. Singing by yourself or in a group also relieves stress levels. Whether it’s a classic tune, an 80s hit, or a BTS song, belting out your favorite song can calm the nerves and release tension from your body.

Listen to a feel-good playlist

Music can boost the production of dopamine which elevates your mood. The increased dopamine production reduces stress and helps keep anxiety and depression at bay. No wonder music is said to be therapeutic. If you don’t have a playlist list of your favorite songs, it’s about time that you make one.

Listen to nature sounds

Birds chirping, rain falling, and rolling waves are just a few examples of nature sounds that can calm the body and mind. Listening to nature’s melodies has a positive impact on our well-being because they contribute to our inner relaxation and stress reduction.

Sense of smell

Use aromatherapy essential oils

Essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, lemon, ylang-ylang, bergamot, and sage have calming and relaxing properties that can reduce stress. Breathing in the aroma of any of these essential oils may help alleviate your anxiety.

Breathe in fresh air

If you spend hours studying inside the classroom or working inside the office, going out to get fresh air can boost energy, improve mental focus, and make you more relaxed. As a result, the body produces more serotonin (the happy hormone), consequently making you happier.

Enjoy the aroma of coffee or freshly baked goodies

The scent of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked goodies are almost universally loved. The aroma prompts your subconscious and brings you back to specific moments in your past. For example, if you’re walking by a local bakery and you smell freshly baked pandesal, it sends signals to the olfactory bulb that is connected to the brain. The familiar scent awakens memories of eating pandesal which brings a sense of comfort and joy.

Sense of sight

Observe fish swimming in an aquarium

Staring at an aquarium has an almost hypnotic effect that calms you down. Studies also claim that aquarium watching can reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, decrease heart rate, and relieve muscle tension. This may be a cue to consider setting up a fish tank at home.

Spend a few minutes people watching

When you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, or stressed, try sitting somewhere like a park or cafe and observing people walking by. People-watching is a great way to take a breather and clear your head. Paying attention to the people around can make you more mindful and distract you from daily stressors.

Watch the stunning sunset

Make time to watch the gorgeous display of the sun setting down over the horizon because it boosts the production of feel-good hormones – melatonin and serotonin. So next time you’re having a rough day, head out to your favorite spot and watch the breathtaking color play of the sunset.

Remember these soothing techniques

Keep these soothing techniques in mind so that you can apply some of them the next time you feel down, sad, or upset about something or someone. Use any of your five senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste) or a combination to trigger feel good hormones and regain your balance.

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