Skip to main content

The Art of Self Soothing

We all have people we turn to in times of crisis - people we might refer to as our "rocks," close friends or spouses or family that we rely on to help bolster us when we're down, calm us when we're stressed, and tell us things will be okay when we can't seem to say it to ourselves.

As all-important as those people are, it's just as - if not more - important to have some tools in your mental/emotional toolbox to soothe yourself.  This is something I've thought about a lot at different points in my life, usually when a friendship unexpectedly implodes, or when I've been far from my family and feeling alone.  Now, a few days out from when Marc will be off on his first regional gig - yay! - I'm faced with forging ahead without my rock to give me a squeeze at the end of a hard day.

Not to exaggerate things, of course - with the magic of technology, we'll be able to stay in touch as often as we please, and since he's not going that far from the city, I'll be able to visit him twice.  On the scale of long-distance hardships, ours is nowhere close to being the hardest a couple can bear.  He's still in the same country, and he's doing Pride and Prejudice, not going off to war.  Still - life is all relative, and for us, it's a big deal.

So what does it mean to "self-soothe?"  Being able to comfort yourself as you would comfort a friend, or would like to be comforted, to me is all about consciously making a choice to treat yourself as you would treat your best friend.  You change your internal dialogue to one of support and positivity, and cultivate the ability to tell yourself that it will all be okay.

The yogic practice of mantra is invaluable to this.  When I was interning at Florida Studio Theatre, far from my mom and from my CNU family in Virginia, and going through a phase there where nothing seemed to be going right, the mantra that popped into my head one day was, "At this present moment, everything is exactly how it should be."

A little wordy, but that's what stuck for me, and it truly helped me.  The funny thing is, if someone else had tried to tell me that, I'd have found it far more irritating and condescending than helpful!

It could be something super simple like, "Strength" or, "You've/I've got this."  Whatever it is, it's a choice you make in the midst of stress to either stay attached to being stressed, or to give yourself permission to feel better and break out of it.  For me, I know it's a tool I'll need to use during a very hard run (like this morning's near-disaster!), when I'm overwhelmed after a crazy day at work, or when I'm just plain missing Marc and feeling sorry for myself.

Running without music or headphones for me is a great time to tap into an active meditation of sorts where I'm in a position to more consciously choose my thoughts and ask - are they helping or hurting me?  A physical yoga practice or seated meditation practice is also a wonderful place to cultivate this mental relationship with yourself and ability to self-soothe.

Try choosing one mantra or one tool to use throughout your week, and instead of immediately reaching for the phone to call a friend and vent, see if you can sit with it, breathe through it, and if you can help yourself.  Like anything else, it takes time to build up that "muscle," but it's worth taking the time to try it.


Popular posts from this blog

The Magic of Brain Gym

I cannot believe I haven't blogged about Brain Gym yet!  That is absolutely bananas, and also sort of great because after a few years of incorporating the little bits and pieces I learned from Shari (founder & director of Karma Kids Yoga and the only boss I've ever had with whom I've also done crazy things like the pose on the right, which she named "fart neck"), I finally took the "Brain Gym 101" course this past weekend to learn more in depth about the what's and wherefore's.

Brain Gym is a lot of things, but what it is primarily is a way to facilitate better learning through movement.  Although it started in the field of education and helping children learn better, everyone can benefit from it.  You may be reading and writing just fine, but do you have a situation where you struggle to communicate your needs clearly to a partner, a friend, a co-worker?  Do you struggle with random bouts of unexplained anxiety that you struggle to release…

Faith in Humanity

The oft-quoted Kathrine Switzer, long distance female trailblazer, once wrote, "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."

Marathon Sunday is always one of my favorite days of the year in New York City.  I've spent these Sunday's over the last eight years that I've been here as a spectator and cheerleader, both in person and on the couch in my boot nursing my injury last year, I've been a volunteer, I went down with other marathoners and marathon volunteers to Staten Island after Sandy in 2012 after the race was canceled - and I've spent the last two years fighting to qualify for it.

Next year will be my year, along with my 'sole sister' (I'm making it happen) and work wife Laura, so this year was another year spent being absolutely inspired beyond measure cheering on the sidelines.  Seeing the heart, the raw emotion, the joy, the pain, the absolute love from the sidelines and from the runners is awe inspiring.  Ye…


It's been eight years today since I've been with the love of my life.

A few months from five years married (Costa Rica, here we come).

Eight years and a couple months since living in the city.

Seven years of Friendsgivings in NYC with my chosen family.

Seven years of Karma Kids Yoga - more chosen family and buckets of kids.

Ten years since college; fourteen of the friendships.

One picked-clean, no leftovers turkey last night.  A table of desserts.

And in ten days we do it again with family.

This morning I'm tired, still full, and grateful.