Skip to main content

BLOGS

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

No unsolicited guest blogs are accepted, thank you!

Self-soothing

A question came up on the message board for my Food and Feelings Workbook (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings) about self-soothing techniques. There are a variety that, if not learned adequately in childhood, need to be acquired later on for healthy emotional regulation. As with other skills, the more you practice, the better you get and the more natural the behaviors feel. Here are 4 that should help—body relaxation, positive self-talk, mantras, and physical self-comfort.

The basic relaxation technique works best in a quiet environment. Sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes, and breathe deeply, inhaling warm, soothing air and exhaling body tension for about 5 minutes. Next, tense each part of your body for 5 seconds then relax it for 15 seconds, starting with your feet and ending with your head (to include legs, buttocks, abdomen, chest, neck, shoulders, and arms). Go slowly. Visualize inhalation bringing relaxing air to the specific body part and exhalation carrying away tensions.

Positive self-talk counters unconscious anxious, negative thoughts and programs you mentally for relaxing. Rather than thinking, “I’ll never get through this,” tell yourself, “I’m going to be okay” or “This is hard but doable.” Instead of working yourself into a lather when you’re upset, think, “I will remain calm” or “I know how to handle this.” The goal of positive self-talk is to overcome negative thoughts which create anxiety and inner turmoil—and often lead to abuse food! Remember, think positive, act positive.

A mantra is a word, phrase, or sentence that you say over and over and has a calming effect. You can say, “This too shall pass,” “I’ll be fine,” or “I’m doing the best I can.” You might choose the word “wave” as in bouncing along and not getting sucked down while you visualize yourself riding the wave of upset. Or picture yourself relaxing in a favorite spot without a care in the world. A mantra is your personal password to inner peace.

Physical self-comfort includes hugging yourself, curling into a fetal position, rocking, and stroking your arms, face or hair. Try putting your right hand over your heart and breathing deeply while telling yourself that you’ll be okay or sending yourself other messages of love and healing. Or put your right hand on your heart and your left on your belly and repeat a soothing mantra until you feel yourself relaxing.

Give each of these techniques a chance to work. If one doesn’t, go on to the next. Practice, practice, practice so that self-soothing becomes automatic and natural.