Soothing. Isn’t that a lovely word? It makes me feel better to just say it, “Sooooooothing.”
What soothes you?
The power of our need to soothe ourselves hit me the other night. My stomach was upset, maybe from something I had eaten. I was in bed and couldn’t sleep because of a belly ache. I laid there, pondering how I could soothe myself, ease my stomach and get back to sleep. The first thought into my brain was, “I could eat a cookie!” What?! My stomach hurts so I’m going to put something questionable in it and add to the problems? Why did I think to eat something when likely eating caused the problem in the first place? Ah… you see, food is one of my soothers. And yes, not always a healthy choice.
Since that night, I’ve been pondering what things I can do that soothe me which don’t involve food or having a glass of wine. Well, it’s been interesting. That’s why I pose the question to you.
What soothes you?
I know we all get into habits. They’re easy, handy, familiar but not necessarily our best choices. Two of my habits- a late night snack, a glass of wine are things that I’m working to change for my health. Less toxins, less calories (when I don’t really need fuel) will lead to a stronger, healthier me.
Whether I’m working on being the best me possible, or helping clients do the same, I find we all struggle with making changes in our lives. Maybe we want to eat better. Perhaps it’s more exercise that’s needed? Maybe your goals is to stay calmer, chiller and more in the moment at work or with our children?
We set a goal, an intention. We have great energy in the beginning. But then something happens. Often it has everything to do with a stressor. They’re different for all of us, you know. Some of us are more sensitive to crowds, for some its noise. Some of us lose our winning edge when we don’t eat right or haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep.
Whatever the stressor is for you, how to empower yourself to stick to your intentions? Well, I think healthy soothing can go a long way to carrying you through, giving you the power to stick with your intentions and not give into old habits.
Now is the time to consider what healthy ways you can soothe yourself. Don’t wait until it’s 2am and you’re thinking about eating that cookie.
So tell me about your healthy soothers. Here’s my list so far.
1- Take a deep breath or two. Deep breathing signals your body that everything is okay and can calm you. Allow the breath to fill your lungs and expand your belly. Imagine you are breathing in calm, peace, love or whatever you need. When you exhale, release whatever is stressing or nagging at you
2- Take a walk. Even if you’re at work, take a lap around the office, run a flight of stairs, take your coffee break out side in the fresh air and move a bit. The change in physical energy and movement can energize you and helps disempower whatever old habit might be nagging at you.
And if walking can’t work, just move. Stand up. Stretch your arms up to the ceiling, then allow them to fall back down towards earth as you lean slowly and gently forward. Roll your shoulders and neck, gently and slowly. Twist your torso from side to side. Stretch again, arms and eyes up to the sky, leaning back a bit if your back likes that. If you’re staring at the ceiling light, close your eyes and visualize a blue sky above.
3- Hydrate. Water is a wonderful healer. If there’s a babbling brook nearby (yes, I’m lucky enough to have one a short walk from my office) then go watch and listen to the water. It has limitless energy, always gently moving, washing, cleansing, wandering on to new vistas.
If there’s no option for brooks handy, get a bottle of pure water (not one of those plastic squishy ones from the store) and drink deeply. As you drink, visualize that babbling brook flowing into your body, washing, cleansing, refreshing and carrying off those things you don’t need.
4- Massage the palm of one hand with the thumb of the other hand. This is a great practice as you can do it anywhere, even during a meeting at work. Be subtle and gentle but this action is soothing to your hand but to other areas of your body. The hand, like the feet and ears, are connecting points for the body’s energy system.
5- Palm or wall push are both ways to get out of your head and into your body. Press the palms together firmly for 5 to 10 seconds while breathing a bit deeper than usual. Pay attention to any sensations in your palms- heat, tingling, buzzy feeling or nothing. You can do a similar exercise by standing facing a wall with feet 1-2 feet from the wall. Lean forward with palms of hands placed against the wall at shoulder level. Allow the solid strength of the wall, the building and the planet to support you and breathe.
6- Sigh. Sighing is a practice valued in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training. It serves as a transition from what you had been thinking about to something new. Take a deep breath in, pause then exhale with an audible sigh. You know the sound a petulant teenager might make. Use caution where you do this as you might be perceived as being petulant yourself?
So… try my ideas next time you feel the need for soothing. Share with me what works or pass along your favorite self-soothers. Perhaps we can keep the discussion away from things like devouring a whole pie or running off to Bali? Or not? ?
have fun !