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Two unconventional ways to self-soothe

10 months ago

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By Nethmie Dehigama Worry, anxiety, stress, frustration, and sadness are a part of life that no one is excluded from experiencing. As we become adults, we have to learn to stand on our own two feet – especially when it comes to handling our emotions (this is of course not including the help that we can receive from our friends, families, therapists, and/or support groups). We might develop certain coping mechanisms or self-soothing techniques that help us get by and get through the tough times.  What is self-soothing? Self-soothing is defined as an individual’s efforts or capacity to calm oneself while in a state of emotional distress. When you find yourself experiencing negative emotions, not only is it important to sit with your feelings but also to not let yourself plummet or spiral into an emotional state that has you overwhelmed. Self-soothing exercises can help you calm your body and mind, reduce anxiety, help you think straight, and even help improve your quality of sleep.  You already most likely know of some self-soothing techniques such as: 
  1. Taking a few minutes to focus on your breath while you breathe in and out 
  2. Giving yourself a hug/butterfly hug
  3. Journaling
  4. Painting or drawing
  5. Listening to calming music
  6. A cold shower
  7. Physical activity like swimming or walking
If you go to a counsellor/therapist, they might give you more of these techniques, and help you work out your emotions and feelings. In this article, I wanted to point out two unconventional techniques that I myself have used and have found to be very effective. Please note that this is not to be done in replacement of therapy. If you have the means, connecting with a therapist is strongly recommended. Ho’oponopono This is actually an ancient healing practice that comes from Hawaii. The word “ho’oponopono” means “to put right” or “mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness”. It was intended as a practice to restore and maintain good relationships with family members and gods by getting to the root of a problem and addressing it internally. Today, it is used as a way for us to hold ourselves accountable, forgive, and show gratitude and love while moving on from anything that is bothering us.  How do you practise it? Firstly, you can call to your mind a relationship or area of your life that is bothering you and requires forgiveness. You could think about your ex-partner for breaking your heart, a friend or a family member who treated you a certain way, and so on. Most importantly, you can think about yourself. Sometimes, we need to forgive ourselves for the things that we have done that have caused ourselves and others pain. Secondly, you have to centre your breath. Breathe in and out, calming your body a little. You could even imagine a calming golden light enveloping you if it helps. Thirdly, picture the person in front of you and repeat the following affirmations: 
  1. I’m sorry
  2. Please forgive me
  3. I thank you
  4. I love you
The order of repetition does not matter. However, it is important that every time you repeat a statement, you embody the feelings of being sorry, forgiveness, gratitude, and love towards the person or yourself. Keep practising this for a few minutes until you feel calm. Not only should you feel a physical and mental calmness, but you might also feel free of any burdens you were shouldering.   Emotional Freedom Techniques  Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is used to alleviate emotional distress and therefore can be an effective self-soothing technique. It is an alternative medicine technique. A lot of us may not believe in such a technique, as this involves physically tapping on certain points in your body to stimulate acupressure points to balance your body’s energy. However, the ritual of EFT is in itself calming, and there is absolutely no harm in trying this out and seeing if it works for you. There have even been a few studies that have shown that EFT has been effective when it comes to treating psychological disorders. How do you practise it? Firstly, you must identify the issue, emotional problem, or fear that you have and that you want to release. It is best to focus on one problem at a time. Secondly, try to benchmark the level of pain you’re feeling on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being intense pain. Thirdly, you need to establish a phrase that both acknowledges the issue and helps you accept yourself. The usual phrase that is used is “Even though _______, I still love and accept myself.” In the blank space, you add your issue. For example, if you are distressed about a relationship that has ended, you could say: “Even though I feel sad about X leaving me, I still love and accept myself” or “even though I am going through intense heartbreak right now, I still love and accept myself.” Another situational example would be, if a loved one is sick and you are worried and stressed out, you could say: “Even though I am worried that my father is sick, I still love and accept myself.” Can you notice how these statements always connect to how you’re feeling, whatever the situation? Fourthly, as you repeat this statement, proceed to tap certain areas of your body. You tap using the tips of your fingers, leaving light “staccato” taps on each area. Start by tapping the area of your palm that you would generally “karate chop with” while simultaneously repeating the statement three times. Next, begin tapping these areas of your body in the order given seven times each, repeating the phrase once at each point:
  1. Top of your head
  2. Eyebrows
  3. Outer sides of the eye, close to temples
  4. Under the eye
  5. Under the nose
  6. Chin
  7. Beginning of the collar bone at the centre of your chest
  8. Under the arm on the sides of your body
You can tap using one hand. On areas like eyebrows etc., you can use both hands to reach both sides of the face at once. Lastly, once you feel calmer, finish the ritual and compare the intensity of the pain or worry you feel with the number you set earlier on a scale of 1-10. Ideally, you should be feeling better now.    PHOTOS © JANET BALBOA, YOGARESSA, THEODYSSEYONLINE, COLIN ANDERSON PRODUCTIONS/GETTY IMAGES, DE’ANDRE BUSH/UNSPLASH   PHOTOS © JANET BALBOA, YOGARESSA, DE’ANDRE BUSH/UNSPLASH

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