Self-Soothing in Adults: What Is It And How Can It Help Cope With Distress?

Self-Soothing in Adults: What Is It And How Can It Help Cope With Distress?

Certain life events can lead to distressing moments, heightening anxiety and depression. And during these moments, it can feel like everything is getting out of control, leading to a stressful mental status. Emotional distress can be debilitating as it can cause anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, worry, feeling of hopelessness, self-isolation, lack of focus, and more. And unlike stress, it doesn't go away when the event that caused the distress passes. 

Distress isn't always inevitable, but many strategies can be used to manage distress and help one stay in tune with their body and mind. However, the most effective way to cope is to learn self-soothing in adults

For adults, skills to manage distress have become essential due to life circumstances and environmental factors. Such factors include financial difficulties, the death of a loved one, divorce, abuse, environmental adjustments, academic challenges, and more. So, learning self-soothing skills enables an individual going through a distressing moment to help themselves calm down and get back to a grounded place. 

But before we talk about how self-soothing skills can be used to cope with distress, let's first understand what self-soothing is. 

So, What Is Self-Soothing?  

The term self-soothing refers to any behavior an individual uses to manage their emotional and mental state. Humans naturally use self-soothing skills in many stages of their life, and the first instance can be seen when a baby cries itself to sleep. And throughout life, we practice self-soothing, especially those battling mental and emotional distress. Also, the skills and behavior of self-soothing in adults may look different than in children. 

Self-Soothing Tips For Adults To Cope With Distress 

Self-soothing is all about using the six senses and finding ways to cope with distressing moments. It is an emotional regulation strategy to deal with disruptive emotional and mental health issues. Moreover, it is about prioritizing self-care to get through a difficult situation and reach a more stable place. Here are some self-soothing skills one can integrate with each sense to get through distressing moments. 

Step Out For A While  

Consider a change of environment, even if it's just for a little while, take a walk in the park and focus on the greenery, go for a hike and enjoy the sunset, go out during the night and gaze at the starlit sky, go to an aesthetical cafe and read a few books there, or find a soothing indoor space with a pleasant view. A change in the environment can be beneficial when going through distressing situations; thus, you must avoid just staying inside the room. Going through old photo albums and seeing pictures may also have a therapeutic impact.

Listen To Some Soothing Music 

There are several music videos for stress relief online one can make use of. So, create a soothing playlist and add music and sounds that enable you to enjoy a calming effect, such as classical music, piano, and sounds taken from nature, including the sounds that rains, chirping birds, rustling tree leaves, and waterfalls produce. Once the playlist is done, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and listen to enjoy one of the most effective tricks for self-soothing in adults

Create A Pleasant Smell 

There are various ways of trying self-soothing in adults, and using the sense to smell perhaps is one of the best ideas. Light a scented candle, burn some incense sticks, or diffuse essential oils to avail a pleasant and soothing impact. If you are into cooking, bake a fresh batch of your favorite cookies, brew a cup of coffee/tea, and enjoy the smell as you sit down and try to shrug off the feeling. 

Treat Yourself To A Meal Or Your Favorite Icecream 

Going out and trying out new food and drinks or relishing the favorites is an effective strategy for self-soothing in adults, and many consider it a form of self-care. Go out alone, with a friend or a loved one and treat yourself to your favorite dessert, ice cream, or drink and savor the taste mindfully. No matter what you crave, make sure to do it mindfully and enjoy every bit of it. 

Take A Long Warm Bath

Draw yourself a warm bath, add sea salt and essential oils to it, and try to enjoy the experience as you do so. After a hectic day and difficult times, taking long showers and baths works wonders. After the bath, get cozy under the blanket and cuddle with your pet or a loved one. 

Move Around And Stretch 

During distressful situations, our body responds by freezing and blocking out the energy, so it is wise to move around and stretch to cope. You can go for a run, go to the gym, do home workouts, dance, practice yoga, or do anything to loosen the muscles. Stretching and moving around are beneficial for our physical and mental state, and the tips for self-soothing in adults will be incomplete without them. 


Self-soothing skills are required for sound mental health and to ease distress. So, the next time you're in a distressful situation, use these tips to self-soothe yourself. However, do remember that self-soothing skill requires practice, so it may not be very effective during the first few times you try it.

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