Daily Archives: 02/08/2015

Role-modelling better ways to self-soothe

So I’ve been working on more mindful ways to self-soothe as part of my ongoing recovery path – rather than sculling a glass of wine which was my old coping strategy.  Things l’ve learned at Cambridge and continue to learn with my daily meditation practice.

This is a description of self-soothing I came across on a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) website.  DBT is used in mental health to help clients who have Borderline Personality Disorder and therefore struggle to manage their own emotions.  Self-soothing is a distress tolerance strategy.

Some of us may recognize these techniques as things that we already use. But many of us have never learned how to self-soothe, how to do those often simple things that makes us feel better. These are mostly very physical techniques, that use different body senses. Some of us have never had the feeling that we could do things to make ourselves feel better, calmer, feel relaxation or pleasure. I urge you to experiment with these techniques until you find some that are comfortable and helpful for you. And when you find these, practice them. Use them when you are feeling distressed, when emotions feel overwhelming, when situations feel like you can’t stand them any more. Instead of doing something that hurts you, try something that gives you pleasure and comfort,

SELF-SOOTHING has to do with comforting, nurturing and being kind to yourself. One way to think of this is to think of ways of soothing each of your five senses:

  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch

And the one that is really working for me is placing my hand over my heart like this

hand on heart

and saying in my head – or sometimes out loud –  ‘It’s okay Lou, it’s okay’.  And do you know what?  It works!  Something about the physical contact and words together calms me and soothes the mental anxiety at play in that moment.

My daughter also struggles with worrying and often shares with me the things that are bothering her and making ‘her head burn’.  So I told her what I did when I found myself worrying and needed to help myself feel better.

Since then I’ve often seen her like this

girl hand on heart

and her mouth has been moving as she quietly says the same calming words to herself.  She says she feels better too for sharing it with me and then through helping herself manage difficult emotions.

Why aren’t we teaching our children this rather than teaching them, through what they observe grown ups doing, that alcohol is the only way to relax and destress?  Wouldn’t it be lovely if this was the image being shared on FB walls rather than large glasses of wine or quips about wine o’clock?  We need to role-model better ways to self-soothe to EVERYONE.

We need to relearn that we don’t need an external substance to right or balance our internal anxieties, particularly if that substance or behaviour is damaging long term.  We are capable of calming our own internal storms – it just needs to be role-modeled more for people to see there is a different way.  I’d love for you to share this image and this post and lets see if we can interrupt that flow of booze posts on social media just for a second for people everywhere to see that there is another better way 🙂

PS So we’re into our new abode and Prim sent me this e-card which is so appropriate I thought I’d share.  Thanks Prim! 😀  My presence will remain a little sketchy for the next week or so as we unpack and sort through all our belongings.  The thought of drinking did cross my mind last night, but only because this was another first.  We did dine and drink in a pub last night but I can recommend a Becks Blue shandy as a thirst quenching alternative to the beer filled regular one 😉