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Self Soothing 101

We all get the overwhelmed feeling every now and then, it is totally normal but also quite unpleasant. What is the best way to ride the emotional storm?

First of all acknowledge it. Notice the thoughts and feelings that are whirling around inside you. Be curious, try to understand what is going on. Try not to be frightened of your own emotions. They are thoughts and feelings which may or may not be true but are not going to hurt you in themselves and they come and go.

A really good way to get a bit of perspective is to take some deep breaths. Really breathe into your diaphragm, maybe even put one hand on your belly and one on your chest and see which moves most. We want the lower hand to move in and out with your breathe. It is strange how powerful just stopping to focus on your breathing is as a way to anchor you in your emotional storm. Just breathe in a way that feels soothing to you in the moment. You could try counting the breathe, maybe in for 3, hold for 5 and out for 7. Or count each breathe until you get to 10 and then start again. Anything that helps you maintain the focus for a few moments. It will not stop those emotions raging but it will give you a chance to get out from the middle of them for a second, just enough time to be able to see them and name them. Is it Anger? Anxiety? Jealousy? Sadness? If you can see them you are probably not being consumed by them. You might even notice some other emotions in there, such as curiosity. Then once you have taken stock of what is going on spend a couple more minutes focussing back on the breathe, maybe now deliberately trying to relax your muscles as you breathe out. Elongating that out breathes a great hack into the central nervous system.

This is not a simple exercise, it takes practice but many people find it really helpful. Practice when you are not too overwhelmed so that you are an expert when you really need it. Hopefully after trying this for a bit you will be able to feel the emotions but still be able to carry on with your life. You will be able to ride those emotional storms as they come and go through your life and still be able to spot the sun poking through.

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