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What Self-Soothing Techniques Can I Use During the Holidays?

When you come from a traumatic or dysfunctional upbringing, the holidays can feel particularly painful for you. It may increase your stress levels due to past events that occurred during the holiday season. Also, you might feel isolated from loved ones and family. No matter the specific stressor, self-soothing can be used around the holidays to help you cope with your emotions.

What Is Self-Soothing?

Self-soothing is a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) technique in which you use the five senses to calm your emotional reactions. In other therapeutic modalities, self-soothing is often called sensory grounding. This calming technique can help people who struggle with emotional dysregulation. Emotional dysregulation occurs in a variety of disorders; however, it’s extremely common with borderline personality disorder (BPD), bipolar disorder (BD), substance use disorder (SUD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Common Self-Soothing Techniques

If you want to try self-soothing, you should consider looking into these specific methods. These options can specifically be implemented in a variety of environments. You may want to consider creating a sensory kit that caters to your needs.

Try Aromatherapy

When you need to calm down, scent can help. Humans can distinguish between more than one trillion different scents. The olfactory system is strongly connected to memory and emotions. With that in mind, you should find scents that remind you of calming environments. If you don’t have any, you should seek out a fragrance that relaxes you. Many people find lavender a calming smell. When you figure out what scent will help you when you’re in distress, you can purchase a tealight candle or a roller ball perfume with the smell. You can place these in a satchel or purse.

Listen to Music

Music can help you shift from one emotional state to another. It can elicit a specific mood when you want it. To prepare for self-soothing, you should create multiple playlists. Ideally, they’ll all match your desired moods or needs. If you think a cry session would help relieve your distress, listen to a playlist with sad songs. When you want to make yourself smile, you should listen to a playlist with songs that cheer you up. Bring headphones or earbuds with you when you go out so that you can listen to your music on the go.

Look at Pictures

Whether digital or physical, photographs can help calm emotional distress. You may choose to keep a small photo album with pictures you took. Alternatively, you may select photos you found online that bring you peaceful thoughts. Moreover, you could print out photos of people who matter to you. Whenever you’re emotionally worked up, you can look through the pictures. It’ll bring you calmness in any environment.

The holidays can bring up a lot of emotions if you experienced core family trauma. You may feel isolated and distraught during this time of the year. Self-soothing can help you calm emotional dysregulation. You can learn and practice this technique in therapy. At The Guest House, we provide group and individual therapy that enables you to process your past trauma. We teach you coping skills to ease your mental illness symptoms. It’s normal to need extra support this time of year. Please reach out to our team at (855) 483-7800.