A major departmental store in Omaha is sadly going out of business as part of a nationwide closure process. It’s been a loved fixture in that mall. As I walked by the mall stores on my way to that store, I noticed the pretzels. I couldn’t help it. It called out to me. I could smell the cinnamon, see the brown sugar and my taste buds went into hyper alert. I thought of the likely yumminess of holding, feeling the texture and biting on a pretzel. It would soothe my sugar cravings.
Pretzel and Self Soothing
My brain often connects different seemingly unrelated stuff. I thought of how I was about to self-soothe
my taste sense with pretzels. Ha! I then thought of the recent Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group.
This week in DBT group we discussed Distress Tolerance skills. Distress Tolerance skills are acceptance skills. Learning to tolerate and radically accept (not approve). Sometimes feelings are intense and overwhelming and you want to quickly make them disappear or lessen.
Recognizing that whether or not you contributed to what’s causing the feelings of overwhelm and discomfort, you still have to do something about it. Self-soothing is one healthy method of doing something positive about reducing stress and overwhelm. Self-soothing is an example of Distress Tolerance.
What is Self-Soothing?
Self-soothing allows you to learn, create calming techniques by mindfully connecting to your 5 senses:
- Sight: use your eyes.
- Hearing: use your ears. Listen to music. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of silence!
- Taste: Use your mouth and your tongue. Slowly eat that piece of candy. Savor each bite.
- Touch: use your body. Take a bath. Wear comfortable clothes. Pet your dog. Snuggle in a warm/cool blanket
- Smell: use your nose. Light a candle. Walk outside and smell the fresh air. Bake.
- You can mix them up too! Much like you would add chocolate sauce, mustard sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, coconut cream to your pretzel
Why Self Soothe?
Remember you don’t need to have a reason to self-soothe. You are probably doing this without calling it self-soothing.
- it’s less stressful than remaining in crisis.
- You take control and you can pick favorites ways If you have no sense of smell use any of the other senses. If you hate lavender, use vanilla. If you don’t like touchy-feely watch a movie. You don’t like dark chocolate, how about hard candy? The list goes on.
How to Self Soothe
- Self-soothing requires mindfulness skills.
- Observe, describe and fully participate. Notice details.
- Pass no judgment. Recognize what works well for you.
- Practice, practice, practice. This does not work on the fly.
- Make a good faith effort of at least 5-10 minutes.
Barriers to self-soothing
- Beliefs that pleasure and enjoyment are wrong and unacceptable.
- Beliefs that soothing comes from other people.
- It’s selfish to be soothed.
- Beliefs that you don’t deserve to be happy.
It’s not selfish when you are able to find comfort without depending on others. It’s self-preservation.
Did you get a pretzel yet? You can enjoy it today, tomorrow or whenever you wish. I dare you not to!
Jumoke Omojola is a therapist in Omaha Nebraska where she challenges you to move from overwhelmed to creating a joyful, fulfilling life you love.
Connect with her at www.nebraskatherapist.com or via email at email@example.com