Therapy Under Five: Self-Soothing for Anxiety

March 14, 2020

We're entering a new reality with the advent of the coronavirus or COVID-19. Our world is rapidly changing and this can bring on anxiety, more or less, for so many of us. While you're likely already taking precautions as instructed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the WHO (World Health Organization), and government officials, there are additional preventative actions you can take to stay more grounded, calm, and centered so that anxious thoughts and feelings are less likely to grab hold.




These may include:

  • Going outside in nature for a walk or run or just sitting on the Earth.

  • Being creative - making art, using your hands, painting, making collages, writing, or other creative activities.

  • Distracting yourself from the heaviness and seriousness of what's happening with funny movies or a great novel.

  • Singing and dancing just for fun and release in the comfort of your own home.

  • Sticking to routines, particularly morning routines that are nourishing and grounding such as writing in your journal, meditating, praying, exercising, practicing yoga, and other practices you have that center you.

  • Being conscious about the amount of media information you're reading and watching around the coronavirus and knowing when to take a step away to give yourself a break.


Even after taking precautions to care for your personal safety, the safety of your family and your local community, and remembering to practice preventative measures like the ones above to stay grounded, creative, and conscious during this challenging time, there may still be moments where your anxiety gets the best of you.




When you find yourself getting overwhelmed by your anxious thoughts and feelings in your body, there are various self-soothing techniques you can try to calm yourself and find your center again. Here are two:


Technique #1: Physical Touch, Vocalization, and Deep Breathing

  1. First, put your hands on your opposite arms firmly. Rub your arms vigorously.

  2. Rub your arms, legs, and chest with your firm hands.

  3. Tap your fingers on your chest or otherwise use a pulsating touch on your chest.

  4. While firmly and vigorously touching your body with your hands, speak words of comfort and compassion out loud to yourself.

  5. Find the words that most resonate for you. Some examples are:

    • You're okay.

    • Ok, sweetheart, I'm here with you.

    • I know you're scared.

    • It's okay.

    • You're gonna be okay.

    • I've got you.

  6. Repeat these phrases out loud to yourself as you rub your arms, legs, and chest. 

  7. As soon as you are able to begin taking deep breaths, do so.

  8. Inhale slowly for a count of 5, then pause for a moment, then exhale slowly for a count of 10. Then pause and repeat 3-5 times.

  9. After 5-20 min. of doing the above, you should begin to feel more relaxed and calm.


Technique #2: Moving the Energy

If the above technique does not seem to be having an impact on your anxiety, you may be feeling more energy than can be calmed down. In this case, try this second technique.

  1. If you are able to stand up, please do. If you are not able to stand, you can do this seated in a chair or even lying down.

  2. Shake your hands and arms vigorously (as your body can handle).

  3. Shake your entire body if you are able. Wave your hands, arms, and body around.

  4. Run around the room if you can, shaking your body.

  5. Be crazy, no one's watching!

  6. Vocalize the energy inside by saying words or making sounds such as:

    • Ahhh!!! 

    • I'm so anxious!

    • I can't stand it!

    • Yow!

    • Woosh!

    • This is too much to hold!

  7. After 5-10 min. of doing this, you should begin to feel more settled down and in yourself again.


These are challenging times for us all. Please take care of yourself and be mindful of ways to prevent anxiety and self-soothe when anxiety comes to visit. 




For an extensive list of grounding and self-soothing techniques,

click the first link below.


Below are two videos where I explain more detail about the above techniques. 





SELF-SOOTHING FOR ANXIETY (about 15 min. long)





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