I think of “self-soothing” as our ability to be aware of any build-up of stress that we are experiencing, and applying self-care techniques to reduce our experience of arousal and tension.
Practicing the skill of self-soothing helps us to be less reactive in situations such as when we are experiencing conflict within our relationships;
In such situations being well practiced in self-soothing protects us from finding ourselves pulled into a more automatic coping pattern associated with the "fight-and-flight" experience (such as expressing our frustration in an inappropriate way or not placing enough emphasis on how we feel and think).
This means we are more likely to respond in a way that includes considering the facts at hand, our own experience and that of another person; as opposed to finding it difficult to think clearly due to feeling overwhelmed by one’s emotional experience.
We all experience different warning signals that signal to us that our levels of stress are mounting. These can include physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, or the flaring up of allergies; or mental ones such as feeling scattered (e.g. from trying to juggle many tasks simultaneously), feeling less patient, or more easily upset.
At times when we are caught up in the business of our day or the needs of other people, we may find ourselves being less mindful of what is happening within our own bodies... we may soldier on or ignore the warning signals that point to a build-up of stress.
Exercise: Consider reflecting on the following:
1. What are your particular warnings signs that reflect to you a build-up of stress?
2. Whether it is listening to relaxing music, having a cup of tea, reading, going for a walk, engaging in creative hobbies, connecting with nature, connecting with your faith, expressing your emotions through art or through speaking with someone... consider ways in which you already incorporate self-care into your life, or would like to, to build personal resilience and decrease the accumulation of stress…
P.s. Taking care of ourselves may not necessarily involve having more time, it could involve something as simple as slowing down our breathing, or inducing an attitude that advances our well-being, through supporting ourselves with nourishing, kind affirmations, prayers, or self talk....