Distress Tolerance Skill: self-soothing
Distress tolerance is a set of skills for helping you learn to tolerate emotional distress and upset. Self-soothing is one set of distress tolerance skills. In the ideal situation, these self-soothing skills are learned from an early age in the parent-child relationship so that the child grows up knowing and using these skills without the need to put time and effort into their use.
However, if you grew up in a chaotic, toxic, neglectful or abusive home, you are less likely to have been taught these skills. That is why right now the skills take extra time, effort and attention, because they are not yet habits. But fear not, the more you practice the easier and more automatic these skills will come to you.
Self-soothing is a means of offering comfort to yourself. This might include engaging any of your senses in a soothing fashion. So one common one you see is taking a nice calming soak in a warm tub (maybe not the most relaxing idea in the summer, but you get the idea). Some people find it incredibly soothing to be in a warm bath, for how it feels on their bodies, add in the fun and scent of bubble bath or salts ad that’s another scent that can help to sooth jangled nerves.
Sometimes there are more cognitive strategies that might be helpful in self soothing. By this I mean saying soothing things to yourself about the situation, such as “you are doing your best,” “you can handle this” and “things will get better.”
While trying to learn these skills it can be helpful to have reminders posted places you might see them (bathroom mirror, back of a closet door, sun visor in the car) or easily access them such as in your wallet. If you have supportive others you can ask them to help remind you to practice these skills or put a reminder in your phone.