These are the thoughts you want to keep and use to replace the negative ones
The goal with this exercise is to learn how to use our five senses to calm ourselves when we are experiencing pain and even heightened emotional responses such as anxiety, stress or depression. As with all of the exercises, practice is needed. Finding the right sense to soothe or how to soothe it, may take time. Finding something you can get “lost” in or “consumed” by, will help to keep your mind off of your pain.
Sound: soothing ourselves with sounds. Do you have a favourite song that just makes you want to get up and dance? Is there one that makes you cry? Or do you have a song that makes you feel pumped and inspired to tackle the world? Have you ever sat on the beach, closed your eyes and just listened to the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks or the shore? Maybe you like to listen to thunder storms or other nature sounds. Or maybe you like the sound of power tools, cars and motorcycles. Call someone you love just to hear their voice. Learn to play an instrument or go see a live band.
Touch: soothing ourselves with things we can touch. Have you ever held a soft fuzzy blanket to your cheek and just rubbed it a little? How about bubbles in the bath? The feeling of fresh linens on your bed? The feeling of your big comfy sweater or your favourite pair of comfy pants. Being hugged and hugging someone back. Have you ever walked past a leather couch and just had to touch it? Or maybe you like popping bubble wrap? Work with your hands building something or fixing your car. Work on your hobbies, some find stamp or coin collecting soothing.
Taste: soothing ourselves with things that are yummy. Buy yourself a special treat you wouldn't normally buy and take your time enjoying it. Have your favourite meal. Go to an ice cream store and sample the flavors. Enjoy a soothing warm drink like a coffee, hot chocolate or a herbal tea. What is your favourite gum to chew or maybe your prefer mints? Or maybe you like Mom's apple pie?
Smell: soothing ourselves with things we can smell. Put on your favourite perfume or cologne, or try some on the next time you're in a store. Light a scented candle. Go for a walk in the woods or down by the water. Bake cookies, bread or a cake. Use scented oils or lotions for a massage. Go to a bakery and notice all of the smells when you first walk in. The smell of fresh cut grass or the air after it has rained. For some being in their workshop, smelling the different types of woods, or the smell of sawdust is soothing. For some, the smell of their garage where time has been spent tooling and tinkering with a car is a comfort.
The best thing about using our senses to soothe ourselves is that we often use more than one sense at a time. Going to a beach for example, is not only a visual, but it is also a source of sounds, smells and things we can touch. Walking into a woodworking shop or a car garage are also sources of multiple senses to soothe.
When using your senses to soothe yourself, it is important that you take the time to actually experience the senses and the feelings they invoke for you. Don't rush through the experience. As you practice noticing the things around you, keep a list of things that you find calming.
It is also important that some of your self soothing techniques be portable. If you're going out and you're feeling a little anxious pack a little bag that contains the things that you know will calm you. Items such as mints, candy or little pieces of chocolate, a bag of a soothing scent, a small piece of silk or fur that you can touch to your skin, or a scented lotion, are good things to carry with you.
When we learn to soothe ourselves we are also learning how to care for ourselves. Caring for ourselves is often difficult for us. We are so used to putting our needs aside to take care of the needs of others, or maybe we think our needs don't deserve to be addressed...BUT THEY DO! ....If we don't learn how to care for our needs who will?
Just as ensuring the needs of our children are met, so should our needs be met. By modelling good self care you are actually teaching your child how to care for themselves. So don't forget about yourself too! Lead by example.
Putting your needs first doesn't mean you are selfish. You deserve an environment that is soothing, calming and caring towards your needs.