Parents of little kids with big feelings may be familiar with self-soothing techniques—or ways their children can help regular their own emotions and calm themselves down. And because as adults, we’re are no strangers to disruptive emotions like anger, sadness, and fear—not to mention our everyday stress and anxiety—we can benefit from some self-soothing strategies of our own. Here are a few you may want to try.
Self-soothing techniques for adults
The next time you’re going through a period of stress or anxiety, or experiencing upsetting emotions, try one of these self-soothing strategies:
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique: Distract yourself by naming five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.
Deep breathing: Focus on your breath. Engage your stomach, abdominal muscles, and diaphragm while inhaling. Exhale in a slow, controlled manner.
Fact-check yourself: If your mind is racing while you try to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario, don’t take your thoughts at face-value. In moments like that, we may not be thinking clearly, and may mistake our perception of a situation as fact, when that’s it’s actually a false belief.
Change locations: When you become overwhelmed by emotion, get up go somewhere else if you can. If you’re able to go outside and take a walk, that’s even better. The idea is to literally remove yourself from the situation and the stress, anxiety, or disruptive emotions you’re experiencing.
It’s also important to note that for some people, anxiety isn’t a fleeting feeling of nervousness that they can easily regulate. If you fall into that category, or you’re struggling with other mental health challenges, it’s best to speak with a healthcare provider.
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