About Self Soothing

What are Self Soothing Skills for Emotional Regulation?

When we are highly stressed, we can also experience emotional dysregulation. If you experience this, you may feel “out of control.” Perhaps you got angry, yelled and made threats you didn’t mean, you got frustrated and snapped, you felt heavy and depressed, you felt highly anxious, or maybe your emotions felt so intense you shut down.

Self soothing techniques help you calm and relax when you are feeling overwhelmed both physically and emotionally. They help you to “regulate” so that you can feel like yourself again. Self soothing is what parents do when they pat their infant child’s back or rock them to sleep when they are fussy.

Self soothing is a skill.

We need self soothing when we are experiencing pain. The key is to find healthy self soothing skills that help you cope vs. quick-fix soothing such as addictive behaviors. Following are some examples to try – keep in mind that you are unique and what works for someone else might not work for you. So keep trying!


  • Think of your favorites: favorite movie, color, place, animal, person, season, music.
  • Get yourself some hot cocoa, coffee, soda, juice or water. Drink your beverage slowly focusing on the sensations of taste, smell and temperature.
  • Give yourself a regulating hug: place your right hand across your heart and put your palm against your body with your hand under your armpit. Take your left arm across the body towards the right and hold your own deltoid or upper arm close to your shoulder for a calming self-hug.
  • Wrap in a blanket and rock in a rocking chair.
  • Wrap up in a heated blanket or put your clothes/blanket in the dryer to warm up then put them up and relax.
  • Take a warm shower or bubble bath.
  • Light scented candles or oil.
  • Play soothing music.
  • Burn essential oils in a diffuser.
  • Go out into the warm sun for 15-30 minutes
  • Apply a cool washcloth to your face – add lavender essential oil for a calming boost.
  • Practice deep breathing or try some of these yoga breathing exercises to shift your mood
  • Listen to calming and soothing music for 10 minutes.
  • Play, pet (and walk) a pet for 10 minutes or more.
  • Engage in rhythmic activities (knitting, crocheting, biking, swimming, dancing).
  • Chew gum.
  • Read an inspirational quote or verse.
  • Think of the things you look forward to in the next week (person you will connect with, activity, etc).
  • Picture people you care about and look at pictures of them.
  • Say a coping statement – “I can handle this”,  “The feeling will pass”.
  • Look at some beautiful fountains.
  • Use some massage machines to relax yourself.