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30 Smart Ways to Soothe Yourself

Side-effect-free self-comforters may be especially helpful at the holidays.

Source: Clker-Free-Vector Images/Pixabay

Self-soothers have gotten a bad rap, associated with substance abuse, overspending, overeating, and even self-injury, which releases a small amount of opioids.

But in our stressful times, and the holidays can be particularly so for some people, self-soothing is important, especially if you’re subject to getting overwhelmed.

30 sources of comfort

Fortunately, there are myriad self-soothers that have no negative side effects. Of course, one person’s self-soother is another’s ho-hum. So, here are 30 possibilities. You could do most of these by yourself right now. Do any call out to you?

1. Take three slow, deep breaths. Want to try that now?

2. Have a massage, even if it’s just to gently run your fingers over your other hand. Or use an electric massager.

3. Picture your most comforting image: for example, a fern-lined creek, clouds floating, a baby sleeping.

4. Listen to your favorite comforting music, perhaps something that has sentimental significance for you, like something you danced to or that your parent used to sing to you.

5. Look at photos, yours or those you find in a Google images search.

6. Hug yourself, a stuffed animal, or, yes, someone.

7. Look at a flower.

8. Gaze at a scented candle. Some people say that beeswax is healthier.

9. Stare at a fireplace. Don’t have one? YouTube has videos of crackling fireplaces as well as aquariums that are accompanied by comforting music.

10. Enjoy a low-calorie food you like. Don’t rush; savor it.

11. Swaddle yourself in a blanket, maybe a weighted blanket. Some people say it feels like a hug.

12. Hum or sing your favorite comforting song. If it creates an earworm (a song you can’t get out of your head), that may be additionally soothing.

13. Curl up in a comfy chair, maybe even a rocking chair.

14. Escape with a book, maybe in the aforementioned chair.

15. Rewatch a favorite funny or emotional movie or TV show.

16. Write in your journal. Or work on a blog post, article, or even that would-be Great American novel.

17. Take a walk, perhaps in nature.

18. Write, call, or get together with a friend.

19. Pet your dog or cat.

20. Go to your garden or where your houseplants are: plant, trim, or just look. You can do that even in winter. No houseplants? Want to get and nurture a few?

21. Drive somewhere, perhaps on a road with nice scenery and little traffic.

22. Have a warm drink, such as hot cocoa, coffee, or tea, especially a calming herbal tea like peppermint.

23. Take a shower or bath, maybe even a bubble bath.

24. Do something crafty: draw, knit, take photos, whatever.

25. Savor your daily routine, perhaps just your bedtime or morning ritual.

26. Savor your favorite hard candy.

27. With expression, say a realistic affirmation: for example, a single word such as “Forward.” Or something longer, such as, “This will pass. Really. Now do something fun or constructive.” Is saying it once enough, or would a few repetitions help?

28. Meditate.

29. Do yoga.

30. Think of or even picture something you’re looking forward to.

I read this aloud on YouTube.

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