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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 speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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