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How To Self-Soothe When Life Seems Totally Overwhelming

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Self-soothing is something that many people learn in childhood. It’s the ability to calm yourself down, even when the world around you feels overwhelming. 

Unfortunately, many of us miss out on this critical developmental stage, either because of traumatic events in our lives, breakdown of our families, or abuse from parents. This means that we enter adult life without the ability to withstand the inevitable knocks and blows that it deals us.

The good news is that there are a host of ways that you can self-soothe when life feels like it is getting too much. Here’s what to do:

Breathe Deeply

Deep breathing activates the rest-and-digest part of the nervous system, immediately making you feel more relaxed. People have been using it for thousands of years to calm the mind and get back in touch with their innate blissful, spiritual nature. 

Try it for a couple of minutes and see how it makes you feel. Breathe in deeply for six seconds, and then breathe out again for six seconds. Repeat six times and then record your anxiety or stress levels out of ten. 

Visualise Relief

Our brains are actually quite poor at distinguishing between imagination and reality. That’s one of the reasons people worry: they believe that bad versions of reality are actually happening,even if they are just thoughts. 

The good news is that you can leverage this “flaw” in the way our brains work and turn it into a strength. The trick is to visualise the things that you want in your life and actually imagine that they are there. Once you imagine that you are feeling relief, you often feel it in reality because your brain really can’t tell the difference. In fact, once you discover this trick, self-soothing becomes trivial. 

Adjust Your Biochemistry

Another approach is to adjust your biochemistry with the help of herbal remedies. For instance, many people buy CBD oil because they want to access feelings of inner joy and peace. People also sniff lavender and use aromatherapy to change how their brain chemistry works. 

Look At The Situation Differently

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Sometimes, the way we look at situations can actually make them worse than they are, making us feel more overwhelmed by life than we need to. We believe that the situation is catastrophic and that we are in a hopeless, dreadful situation. 


The trick here is to view the situation in a new light. If you can reframe it so that it doesn’t seem so bad, then it won’t be as bad. Your attempts at self-sabotage will slowly ebb away and you’ll learn that you have a high degree of control over how you feel. 

Use Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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Another strategy you can use is progressive muscle relaxation. This is an ancient strategy used for thousands of years that involves consciously relaxing all of the muscles in your body, one by one. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head, focusing on each muscle in turn. You can do this anywhere, and it will make you feel calmer about the situations you face.

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One Comment

  • Brian McClellan

    Great tips for helping us self soother when feeling overwhelm. I have not tried all of these, but have found that coming back to my breathe is an important one. I have also learned to try and change the perspective by elevating my mind so to speak. I remove myself from the room, the house, the block, the city, the state and so forth until I envision myself looking down on the earth from the stars and I am reminded that the problems I am facing are miniscule in comparison to what is happening in the world. I will get through it and I will be okay.

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