Life brings us all challenges.
Sometimes these challenges are in our relationships, our family, our careers, our finances, our health; sometimes the challenges stimulate us, sometimes they knock us over and rock the foundations of our world like a runaway train with a pain that is so unbearable we doubt we will ever enjoy life again.
If we are lucky we have friends and family to support us but rarely is that support available 24/7 as they too have their own responsibilities in life and may also be struggling. The pain of being alone at a challenging time often adds to our feelings of despair and hopelessness and yet it provides the opportunity for one of life’s greatest lessons, we will all be alone at times and to be able to get through these times we need to be able to self-soothe.
Self-soothing is the ability and acceptance that you can comfort yourself when you feel stressed, anxious, abandoned, rejected, alone etc. Self-soothing often takes the form of distraction through escapist, short-term techniques which, if repeated, can become addictive. A reliance on alcohol, food, gambling, smoking, drugs actually worsens anxiety and depression which in turn increase problem-focused negative introspection and negative forecasting.
Beneficial self-soothing techniques include the acceptance that pain and challenges are a part of life for everyone, despite the barrage of social media posts that create a false reality of permanent success and happiness. Accepting life as it is and not how we think it should be is the first step in self-soothing as it allows us to recognise that we have coped with difficult times in the past and can do so again even if we can’t immediately see how. Techniques such as listening to calming music, meditating, going for a walk, reconnecting with nature, not only reduce our emotional arousal but allow us to view things with a more rational perspective and recognition that hard times might last longer than a day or a week but they aren’t permanent.