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Published on April 20, 2020

7 Self-Soothing Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Relief

7 Self-Soothing Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Relief

When you are experiencing stress or anxiety, you can have a difficult time functioning or feeling anything else. Some are able to put a mask on, show to the world that they are fine when they are in overdrive. However, masks are only temporarily effective. Finding self soothing techniques is much more useful.

We tend to burn out if stress and anxiety are left ignored. We tend to feel the weight of the world and think that if we ask for help, we are a burden. The truth is that we deserve care, respect and help if we have taken on too much. We owe it to ourselves to take a break now and then and allow for some self care. Furthermore, we need to know we are worth offering comfort to ourselves in the midst of chaos.

It’s imperative to work on going from being a worrier to a warrior of inner peace.

What Causes Stress and Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety are symptoms of greater issues. This could be a time management issue, poor prioritization, mental health issues, lack of self care, or having no purpose behind what you’re trying to do.

Ultimately, anyone can experience stress or anxiety, but they don’t have to run your life. You can regain control and find your way back yourself and your life.

“Keep coming home to yourself.” – Aundi Kolber, therapist and author of Try Softer

We may become distracted, but we can always come back to ourselves. The true root of stress is that we have separated ourselves from who we are really meant to be. We try to be productive and forget to be purposeful.

Anxiety is ignited from a lack of self care and self love. Neglect of self is a contributor to how we can lose ourselves and find ourselves feeling stressed and anxious. The good news is that we can get it back.

Here are 7 self soothing techniques to help you find your way back to peace.

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1. Yoga

Yoga is a great way to stretch and tone muscle and find some calm. Many find it meditative and helpful towards stress relief. A recent study[1] found that “practicing Hatha yoga had a promising effect on anxiety. Yoga was also most beneficial in people who had the highest levels of anxiety at the start of the studies.” There are many more studies like this. Try it today.

Try these 8 poses for inner peace and stress relief[2]:

  • Sukhasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana
  • Sasangasana
  • Vajrasana with Garudasana arms
  • Side Stretch
  • Halasana
  • Savasana

If you don’t know what these poses are, you can see examples and a description through a simple Google search. Furthermore, you don’t have to be a practicing yogi to be able to do them. You can use yoga whether you’re a beginner or an expert to relax your body and your soul.

For more intense yoga, there are many YouTube videos you can try. Explore the internet or take a class. The point is that you can start simple and progress each day. You can challenge and condition yourself at your own pace.

Stress and anxiety will be unable to reach you as you focus on your yoga poses and stretches. Yoga can uplift you, improving overall emotional and physical wellbeing.

2. Stress Diary/Anxiety Log

Stress diaries are how we can pinpoint problems and come up with solutions for them. What is breaking you could lead to better breakthroughs if you record your stress daily. What triggers them? Keep a log. There are many benefits of a stress diary[3], but most importantly, it can help you discover the sources of your stress so you can tackle them directly.

Record the date and time, the stressor, rate the level of stress you are experiencing or how happy you are now, how effectively you are working now, the cause of the stressor, symptoms, and how well you handled the event.

Do this as often as stress comes up or reflect on past stressful experiences. This will lead you to better understand how you cope and how you could do better in the future. It pushes you to analyze the core of what’s going on. What really matters do you? Do you feel in or out of control? Why or why not?

This practice can be done using online tools[4], or you can adapt the log to suit your own style.

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You can also use this idea for an anxiety log. If you are having trouble with anxiety, note the triggers, how long it lasts, how you feel now, and how you handled it (much like you would for the stress diary). If they are one and the same — causing you both stress and anxiety — use one form to analyze the stressor.

The key is to continue using a stress diary or anxiety log so you can figure out what’s wrong and find any solutions. Brainstorming solutions is something you can do as a result of this activity. You can learn better ways to solve problems simply through simple self-reflection, followed by self soothing.

3. Mindfulness

Recent research[5] has found that mindfulness “has many positive benefits, including lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, and protecting against depression and anxiety.”

So, how does one become mindful?

Focus first on your breath.

Then, allow your thoughts to come and go. Just observe the thoughts; do not judge them or yourself for having them. The emotion is not your identity. Overidentifying with them can be harmful. Instead, try to be mindful.

You can do this at anytime, and it can become a way of life. Becoming present helps you to look at your priorities, which in turn helps you to reduce unnecessary stressors in your life. It can be a meditation practice or something you do during any activity. Ultimately, it helps to calm you.

When we become upset, we become our emotions rather than separating our emotions from ourselves. We don’t have to act on each feeling. It’s about getting back into control and a calm mindset.

4. Diaphragmatic Breathing

One proven way to reduce stress is through diaphragmatic breathing.[6] This type of breathing involves using your diaphragm and breathing so that your belly expands and falls with the breath. Generally, we tend to breathe using our chest and shoulders, which causes shallow breathing and ultimately contributes to stress.

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To practice this type of breathing, get comfortable. Put your hand on you chest and your other hand on your belly. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you exhale, it should fall.

Take a moment to do this. You can even close your eyes if you like. Just focus on the breath and your belly rising and falling.

If you catch yourself having an anxiety or panic attack, this is also a great way to help you refocus your breathing until you are better. When you focus only on your breath, you start to feel safe. You can use that to better your situation or yourself. Just breathe.

5. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This technique involves tensing a specific muscle group and then releasing it. Research[7] suggests that it can be “used to control stress and anxiety, relieve insomnia, and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain.”

This can be done starting from one end of the body and working your way through the entire body. For example, a common thing we do is clench our jaws. Unclench your jaw. Relax the muscles in your temples and forehead. Continue down to your neck and shoulders. Focus on nothing else. When you get to your toes, you will have relaxed the body completely. This is a great way to help yourself relax, and it’s easy to do.

You can make it a habit of doing it before you fall asleep each night, or when you want to be meditative and calm. It’s a great way to also realize the body is carrying your tension. All your stress and anxiety is found in your body, and you are releasing the stress when you release the muscle tension.

6. Guided Visualization

Guided visualization is a sort of meditation that involves imagining something that helps calm you. This technique has been shown to lower blood pressure and levels of stress hormones.[8]

There are two common visualization exercises you can try:

Containment Exercise

Visualize a container. Make it look however you want, and give it a name. Then, visualize your negative thoughts, emotions, and worries being sealed within that container and only you have the lock.

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What would you like to do with this container? It contains all your stresses and anxieties. You can dump it into the ocean. You can bury it. You can throw it away. You can safeguard it. You can put it in a safe.

The visualization that you do is up to you with this container. As long as you start to feel the negative thoughts and feelings go into the container, you start to experience stress and anxiety relief.

Happy Place

Visualize your safe space or happy place, a place you can go to anytime. Visualize the details, invoking your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, or even taste? Focus on these details for a bit, playing around with them in your mind. What do you call this place? Give it a name. You can visit it or change it every time you do this guided visualization.

If you want to do more guided visualizations, there are free ones online, you could take a class or practice with a mental health professional or while in a meditation.

They key is to get away from the stressors and things causing you anxiety in your mind. You regain clarity. You remove yourself so you can have control of what you think and feel and finally feel some relief.

7. Ask for Help

If you are feeling stressed and full of anxiety and have tried everything, it may be time to reach out for professional health. You may not be in control, and that’s okay. You just have to get back into control. A mental health professional may be able to target why you are stressed and anxious better than you can on your own.

You are not alone. You are worth it. And if you think otherwise, your mind is tricking you. You can train it to alleviate stress and anxiety, but you may need some help, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Final Thoughts

When you think you are at your wit’s end, there is a way to give yourself a break and a breather. It includes any one of the techniques presented above.

There’s always a way through something, even if it’s stressful or anxiety inducing. You won’t overcome it in one day or one sitting, but if you create a daily practice of cultivating inner peace, you will find it to be worth it. It’s about creating a better lifestyle so you can create a better life.

Having stress and anxiety doesn’t make you weak. In fact, if you admit you need help, that makes you strong. You can figure out the source through these exercises or with help from a professional. Ultimately, peace will be waiting for you on the other side.

More Tips on Combating Stress and Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a writer, speaker and activist who promotes the end of stigma for mental health.

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, today’s article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question, “why is goal setting important”.

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about some of the golden rules for goal setting that will help you set and achieve your goals successfully check out this article: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest!

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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