Self-soothing, is a powerful tool for managing strong emotions and anxiety. According to psychotherapist and author Janice Webb, developing effective self-soothing techniques can help us cope with stress and improve our relationships.
In her book “Filling the Void: Overcoming the Effects of Emotional Neglect in Childhood,” Webb writes that many of us did not receive the optimal emotional care and support during childhood, leaving us ill-equipped to handle stress and relationships as adults. However, she argues that it is never too late to develop new tools for self-care and emotional regulation.
Self-soothing, according to Webb, is a form of first aid for strong emotions. It should be effective, simple, and safe. Activities such as alcohol consumption, shopping, binge-watching, and overeating may provide temporary relief, but can ultimately worsen existing problems and create new ones. Instead, Webb suggests developing new, constructive methods for coping with stress.
One example of a self-soothing technique is deep breathing exercises. When feeling anxious or stressed, taking slow, deep breaths can help to calm the body and mind. Other techniques include practicing mindfulness, going for a walk, listening to soothing music, or engaging in a hobby or activity that brings a sense of joy or relaxation.
Self-soothing takes practice and persistence, but Webb assures that the effort will be worth it in the long run. Rather than waiting for difficult emotions to arise, she advises proactively developing new coping mechanisms before they are needed. By creating a “toolbox” of self-soothing techniques, we can better manage stress and improve our relationships with ourselves and others.