Therapist Aleksandra Trkulja shares her methods to regulate your nervous system, and ground yourself when faced with stressors, using the five senses of sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.
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On my good days, I can manage stressors well. Traffic? No problem, put on Adele. Spilt coffee? Who cares, I can wash it off.
On my bad days, these stressors can send me into a mood.
What I’ve learnt as a therapist, is that there are strategies to use to manage stress, and avoid those moods.
To do that, I have a self-soothing kit. And I want you to create one for yourself too. In this article, I’ll take you through what that means, what it looks like, and an insight into my self-soothing kit.
Self-soothing is a set of behaviours or actions you can do to regulate your nervous system, and ground yourself.
Self-soothing is done through your five senses; sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.
Self-soothing is important for regulating our silly little brains when they get overwhelmed.
The science behind it is this; you have a sympathetic nervous system which gets activated when you’re under stress and motivates you to seek safety.
When you are feeling safe, your parasympathetic nervous system is in charge, and allows you to be mindful, curious, horny, and hungry.
You can shift between these two states throughout the day, week, or month.
Those under chronic stress (past trauma, chronic illness, lack of safety) will likely be in their sympathetic/stress response constantly.
When we’re in this stressed state constantly, our bodies become fatigued, and often people develop illnesses like chronic pain, or autoimmune conditions.
So, it’s important to learn to self-soothe because it helps your body and nervous system regulate after stress, it relaxes you, and shifts you into the mindful/curious/horny state.
Beyond that, it’s an excellent way to nurture your body as the precious flesh vessel it is.
Self-soothing strategies will be completely unique to you and your body. What feels relaxing to you, may not feel relaxing to me.
So start with identifying the sensory experiences you enjoy doing already, or that you might like to do more of. Here’s a list.
+ Looking at nature (bush, ocean, flowers)
+ Looking at artworks in a museum or gallery
+ Looking at your pet/watching animal videos
+ Looking at sunsets/sunrises
+ Looking at clothing/jewellery
+ Styling your home/nesting
+ Listening to the sound of the ocean
+ Listening to bird sounds/nature sounds
+ Listening to rain
+ Listening to music
+ Listening to ASMR videos
+ Listening to meditation
+ Listening to audiobooks
Take notice of which sense you ticked more of. It’s common to have a sense that is more dominant, and a sense that is least dominant.
This will give you an idea of what soothing behaviours you have naturally been drawn toward.
One fun way to explore your sensory experience is to try and focus on the least dominant sense.
Here’s a look into my self soothing kit to give you an idea. Granted, it’s much longer than this:
+ Watching sunsets over the ocean
+ I like to nest, so I fill my home with pretty things- like vases and flowers
+ Listening to the ocean
+ Listening to music
+ Listening to audiobooks (Harry Potter is my go-to)
+ Watching my favourite TV show
I rely on elements of my self-soothing kit daily. My skincare routine bookends my day, and in between, I will try to sprinkle other self-soothing activities in to help regulate me.
Being a therapist, and human being; I have learnt managing stress is a constant responsibility. To function in this fast paced world, we must integrate self-soothing into our daily routines.
Take some time to curate your own self-soothing kit, and make it a priority to integrate these lovely things into your day-to-day.