Here are some self-soothing techniques for adults to help you calm your anxious mind


Life’s stress and anxiety can be dealt with in various


Many people with big feelings are familiar with self-soothing techniques – or ways to calm themselves down and regulate their emotions. Moreover, since we adult experience negative emotions like anger, sadness, and fear, not to mention our everyday stress and anxiety, we can benefit from self-soothing strategies. Try these.


Self-soothing techniques for adults

When you are experiencing stress or anxiety, or experiencing upsetting emotions, try these self-soothing methods:

1. You can distract

yourself by counting how many things you can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste

that you can do.

2.  Breathing deeply Pay attention to your breath. 

While inhaling, engage your stomach, abdominal muscles, and diaphragm. Slowly and carefully exhale.

3. Do not take your thoughts

At face value if your mind is racing while you prepare for the worst-case scenario. At those moments, it is possible that we are not thinking clearly and may mistake our perception of a situation as fact when it is false.

4.  Get up and go

somewhere else if you are overwhelmed by emotion. I recommend walking outside yourself from the situation and the stress, anxiety, or disruptive emotions you are experiencing.


anxiety is not always a fleeting feeling of nervousness that some people can easily control. In this case, seeking medical attention is best for

experiencing other mental health challenges.


After an upsetting event, self-soothing is a strategy used to regain equilibrium.

We are familiar with soothing others when upset or afraid, especially our children. If we are triggered in a public place like the workplace, regulating potentially disruptive emotions like anger, fear, and sadness can be challenging when we are triggered as adults.


ineffective self-soothing strategies can also disrupt relationships when miscommunications or conflicts arise.

This article will explore ways to calm disruptive emotions and benefit mental health through self-soothing behaviors.

Please download our three free Self-Compassion Exercises before continuing. With these detailed, science-based exercises, you can increase your compassion and kindness for yourself and help your clients, students, or employees do the same.


What Is Self-Soothing According to Psychology?


acute stress, self-soothing helps restore homeostasis to the body. After a shock, trauma, or upset, everyone needs soothing. It is common for people to reach for a glass of alcohol or a tub of ice cream when they feel stressed. Nevertheless, self-soothing behaviors can lead to additional problems.


people may not be available to provide social support or soothing when needed.

While self-soothing skills are fundamental, they are challenging to practice when needed. Being overwhelmed can often reduce our ability to make good choices and engage in positive self-soothing behaviors.

A look at self-soothing in DBT

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based interventions are the roots of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Originally, DBT was designed to help people who feel intense emotions, such as those diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (formerly known as Borderline Personality Disorder (Linehan et al.,2006)).


DBT is used to treat emotional dysregulation, which may involve a range of mental health problems, such as depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse problems, and life crises, such as stress, burnout, grief, and trauma.

In DBT, clients are taught radical acceptance, distress tolerance, and self-soothing strategies (McKay, Wood, & Brantley, 2019). As part of the treatment process, the client will be educated about the functionalities of their old ways of dealing with emotional dysregulation, such as substance abuse, binge eating, and social withdrawal.


are encouraged to accept that their old coping methods were the best way to cope with deeply distressing emotions at the time. In order to learn distress

tolerance, one must learn techniques for self-soothing that can regulate emotions without resorting to self-defeating behavior.

Is self-soothing beneficial for mental health?

Self-soothing skills are essential for mental health, as many know from direct experience.

In order to ease distress and regain equilibrium, it is customary to counter a strong emotional reaction with a soothing experience, preferably in the company of a trusted friend.

Many studies have explored the effects of interactive soothing between humans, including hugs, skin-to-skin contact, massage, and sexual intimacy

(Uvnäs-Moberg, Handlin, & Petersson, 2015). Self-soothing techniques, however, have received little attention in studies.

We can lower our stress levels when physically contact another human

being (Uvnäs-Moberg et al., 2015). This is rooted in our childhood experience of being soothed (Matthiesen, Ransjo-Arvidson, Nissen, & Uvnäs-Moberg, 2001). Here is a short video explaining the roots of interactive soothing in infancy and childhood.

3 Self-soothing coping skills for anxiety

In order to ease anxiety, clients can try the following self-soothing practices.

The worksheets section of this article contains additional anxiety coping skills and worksheets.

1. Focused breathing

To soothe anxiety quickly, exhale more slowly than you inhale. In the video below,

Dr. Rangan Chaterjee explains the 3–4–5 breathing technique. Inhale deeply for a count of 3, hold it for a count of 4, and exhale for a count of 5.

2. Self-soothing touch

As recommended by Dreisoerner et al. (2021), try self-soothing touch. Pay attention to the rising and falling of your breath with both hands on your belly and your right hand on your heart. Here are some exercises that Dr. Peter Levine recommends. The worksheets section offers other exercises.

3. Mindful walking

Move your body mindfully to get grounded. As you take in your surroundings mindfully Walk awe-inspiringly for 15 minutes, preferably in nature Garden or park with a beautiful view.

The feeling of wonder puts stressors into perspective while increasing happiness vitality is awe (Bai et al., 2021). For guidance, watch the Mindful Awe Walk

video below.

Using Meditation for Self-Soothing: 3 Ideas

Mediation is a contemplative practice that can help regulate disturbing emotions, even if practiced for only 10 minutes. These guided meditation practices will benefit clients who need help enrolling in classes or courses.

Science-based stress management techniques are available for each practice.

1.Mindful self-soothing meditation

There is a good reason why mindfulness has become such a buzzword in the health and well-being world. The practice of mindfulness can rewire the brain to increase reactivity by increasing executive function (Shapiro, 2020).

According to a recent meta-analysis of mindfulness-based programs and mental health (Galante et al., 2021), mindfulness improves the well-being of most adults in

non-clinical community settings. This is particularly beneficial for those experiencing extreme life stressors.

Here is a video that will guide you through meditation. A 10-minute mindful self-soothing exercise that focuses on self-compassion.

2. Self-compassion meditation

A person who practices self-compassion is less likely to suffer from depression Furthermore, anxiety than someone who is harsher on themselves (Neff, 2011). See

The 15 Most Interesting Self-Compassion Research Findings for an Understanding of Self-Compassion overview of recent research findings. Try the 10-minute self-compassion meditation in the video below to experience the soothing effects of being kind to yourself

3. Loving-kindness meditation

Meditation with loving kindness activates areas of the brain associated with joy and peace, making it practical for self-soothing (Bodhi, 2005; Salzberg, 2002). You can find more information on Lovingkindness Meditation in our article, which includes four meditation scripts, or you can watch the guided 10-minute meditation below.

Resources from PositivePsychology

Our free Mindfulness Exercises can help you manage stress and soothe frayed nerves.

In complex and distressing circumstances, the Eye of the Hurricane Meditation can anchor inner peace by paying attention to the breath.

We offer a comprehensive eight-session mindfulness training package based on scientific research called Mindfulness X. A course can be taught under your brand using videos, worksheets, exercises, and slides.

You Here are 17 validated self-compassion tools to help you practitioners if you want to help others develop self-compassion based onscience. You can use them to help others develop kinder and more nurturing relationships with themselves.

A Take-Home Message


It is easy to soothe our friends and family when they are struggling, but it is harder to do when we are struggling.

We often have difficulty soothing ourselves. Self-soothing skills, however, are essential for self-regulation and mental health in adults.

Adult self-soothing techniques are relatively new, but some interventions are attracting considerable attention from psychologists and neuroscientists, such as havening, DBT, and somatic experiences.


No matter how well we navigate life will inevitably hit us with shocking and unexpected events. Loss and sudden change require the use of self-soothing techniques.

Especially for clients who have experienced trauma or struggle with addiction, self-soothing techniques can help manage life events between therapy and counseling sessions.

A client’s ability to self-soothe is critical to their ability to regulate their emotions. In this article, we share resources that will be helpful to you.

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