9 Self-Soothing Techniques to Help You Cope


Self-soothing is a strategy used to regulate emotions (more commonly known as "calming down") after a person encounters an upsetting event, but what are the best self-soothing techniques to help you cope?

Everyone responds uniquely to stressors and emotional triggers, but one of the most common helpful techniques is to take slow, deep breaths.

Some people also find that closing their eyes and counting down from 10 to 0 is one of the most helpful ways to regulate their emotions when they are upset.

It's important to find self-soothing techniques to help you cope that are easy to do anywhere at any time to regulate potentially disruptive emotions like sadness, anger, and fear. 

Coping Skills Therapists in Colorado

Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

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Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

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Denise Itule, LPCC

Denise Itule, LPCC

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Marta Schmuki, LPC

Marta Schmuki, LPC

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(719) 203-7021
Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

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Janelle Wagenknecht, MA, LPCC, ADDC

Janelle Wagenknecht, MA, LPCC, ADDC

(720) 710-0919
Winnie Siwa, LPCC

Winnie Siwa, LPCC

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Marie Whatley LPCC

Marie Whatley LPCC

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Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
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Kelsey Motley, LPCC

Kelsey Motley, LPCC

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Benefits of Learning How to Cope

Learning self-soothing techniques to help you cope with stress, anxiety, depression, and life, in general, is crucial to maintaining your health and well-being.

When a person experiences a strong emotional reaction to something that causes stress, they naturally want to counter that experience with a soothing one.

The soothing experience is often amplified when the person is in the company of someone they trust, which can help them regain their emotional equilibrium and reduce stress and anxiety.

It's well-known that soothing between people is beneficial and essential, but there hasn't been much research on the effects of self-soothing techniques.

One significant study, however, focused on assessing whether self-soothing techniques to help you cope and soothing from other people had similar effects on a person's stress level.

This study, performed by Dreisoerner et al. in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, was done when quarantines made soothing touch from others unavailable.

It was important for the research team to conduct this study during the pandemic to help identify techniques that could reduce stress and anxiety during isolation.

Half of the participants in the study were asked to place their right hand over their heart and their left hand over their abdomen while concentrating on their slow, deep, steady breathing, and the other half received a hug from another person.

The results showed that receiving a hug and performing the self-soothing technique were equally effective at reducing levels of apprehension and stress in people.

So, what are nine self-soothing techniques to help you cope when you're anxious, stressed, angry, or upset in other ways?
Stress can take its toll when not properly managed.

9 Self-Soothing Techniques to Help You Cope

Some self-soothing behaviors are simple things most people do regularly without giving them much thought, and others might be simple but never crossed your mind before.

If you're interested in learning self-soothing techniques to help you cope, consider the following:

1. Find Soothing Imagery

It can be helpful for you to look at things like photos of loved ones, a burning candle, tree leaves swaying in the breeze, or photos of seascapes, forests, or other natural landscapes.

2. Change the Scenery

If you can, remove yourself from your current surroundings and go somewhere quieter and more peaceful, even if it's just for a few minutes.

3. Focused Breathing

Take slow, deep breaths in and exhale slower than you usually do, and focus your thoughts on breathing as you close your eyes.

4. Self-Massage

Gently massage your shoulders, neck, and hands for as long as possible, then follow with a good shake-out to release stress and tension in these areas.

5. Positive Affirmations

One of the most popular self-soothing techniques to help you cope is to recite positive affirmations like "I am okay" and "I am loved," which can lower stress hormone levels.

6. Coloring

Many adults have re-discovered coloring as a very helpful self-soothing technique, and it helps because of the repetitive, slow motions and back-and-forth movements of the hands.

7. Counting Down

Many people find that slowly "counting down to calmness" helps reduce stress and alleviate anxiety, and it's a technique that can be done anywhere at any time.

8. Take a Warm Bath or Shower

For many, warmth is conducive to relaxation and calmness, so a soothing warm bath or shower can work wonders if you've had a stressful day.

9. Listen to Music or Other Soothing Sounds

Music stimulates areas of the brain responsible for releasing "feel good" hormones, so putting in the earbuds and closing your eyes for a few minutes can be one of the most effective self-soothing techniques to help you cope.

Taking time to refocus is essential.

FAQs about Coping Strategies

It's normal for people to have questions about self-soothing behaviors and coping strategies; the following are a few of the most common:

Q: What are unhealthy self-soothing strategies and behaviors?

A: Some examples of self-soothing strategies that are not healthy include binge-watching TV, emotional eating, drinking alcohol, compulsive gambling, obsessive game-playing, and constant internet surfing.

Q: How do Self-Soothing Techniques Work on the Body?

A: The techniques activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which increases tolerance to distress, decreases physical discomfort, slows impulsive behaviors, and helps redirect a person's focus to bring it back to the present.

Q: How do Coping Behaviors Help People Emotionally?

A: Healthy techniques can help you feel more in control of your emotions and present situation, which can help because stress and anxiety are often caused by a person feeling like they have no control over their feelings, situation, or outcomes.

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Potential Consequences if Someone Doesn't Address Their Issues

There are many ways coping techniques and soothing behaviors help people alleviate stress and anxiety, so if a person doesn't try to self-soothe, they can risk unhealthy behaviors and effects.

Without effective coping strategies, you risk disrupting your everyday relationships with others, including family members, friends, partners, and co-workers.

Without these coping mechanisms, people can also suffer from excessive fear and worry, which can bring about uncomfortable physical symptoms like trouble sleeping, weight loss or gain, ulcers, and more.


Self-soothing techniques to help you cope with whatever life throws your way are essential to alleviating the symptoms that can accompany stress, anxiety, frustration, and fear.

By experimenting and finding the coping mechanisms that work best for you, whether listening to music, taking a warm bath, counting down to calmness, or anything else, you can ensure your mental and physical health are always a priority.

Be patient on your journey to practicing self-soothing techniques to help you cope, and remember that you are unique and deserve a unique set of techniques all your own to help you be happy and healthy.


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May 23rd, 2024

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