During times of stress, emotions tend to run high and you may not feel like yourself. This can be true if you struggle with anxiety or are feeling overwhelmed by the outside world. Self-soothing techniques help to regulate your emotions and bring you back to a calmer state again.
When I first started counseling, self-soothing techniques helped to ease my anxiety. I’d have moments of high panic where I couldn’t stop crying. It’d cause my whole body to shake.
Even just taking walks to the lake and looking out at the sky brought me more peace. I’d think about how Lake Michigan seemed endless and how nice the grass felt on my toes in the summer. To this day, I still use similar self-soothing techniques to calm my anxiety.
What is Self-Soothing?
Self-soothing (or coping) strategies are a way to manage your emotions during stressful times. If you’re feeling upset or near burnout, it’s good to have some go-to techniques to relax your body and mind.
Having healthy coping methods you can do on your own will help you out in your self care journey. They also come in handy if panic comes on suddenly and without warning. It’s crucial to note that self-soothing doesn’t replace reaching out to your support system.
Staying connected to the people you love is an important part of looking after your mental health and wellbeing. But think of these skills as just another “tool” in your self care tool kit.
Here are 50 Self-Soothing Techniques to Relieve Stress + Calm Anxiety! I’ve categorized them via the 5 senses! ☁️🌃
De-Stress with the Senses
A helpful way to relax your body and mind is to focus on the five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. This is probably one of the simplest approaches to categorizing and finding self-soothing techniques that work for you.
Everyone is different, so think about the things that bring you peace during stressful periods. You’ll find that what works for you may not work for someone else. Also, remember that some of the activities will overlap when it comes to the various senses and that’s okay!
1. Hang up old photographs.
Print out your favorite photos and hang them up. You can even DIY a photo wall as a way to recall some of your best memories! 📸
2. Draw a picture of your favorite place.
What’s a location that means a lot to you? Grab some colored pencils, crayons, or markers and start drawing! If you have paint, you can even work on a painting of your favorite place!
3. Start a gratitude list.
Write down a gratitude list featuring some of your favorite things. Thirteen Thoughts wrote an awesome blog post on the 100 things she’s grateful for! 💗
4. Download a nature app for daily walks.
Take in all of the sights as you walk around your neighborhood. What do you see? There are also helpful apps you can use to appreciate the nature around you, like Leafsnap! 🍁
5. Make a themed collage on Canva.
Canva is a free graphic design tool you can use to create digital art projects! Start a photo collage design on the site by putting together some of your favorite photos and sayings. You can even make a themed collage based on your favorite color, your general mood, place, etc.
6. Stargaze and look for constellations.
Allow yourself to close your eyes and enjoy a lovely daydream. ☁️
8. Follow a guided meditation.
Guided meditation is a great tool to ease anxiety and help you stay in the present moment. Consider using meditation apps or following guided meditation videos on YouTube!
Helpful guided meditation videos:
9. Take a drive with the windows open.
Go for a drive and just enjoy the scenery with the windows opened. 🌆
10. Work on a mindfulness journal.
Use a mindfulness workbook to calm anxiety and stress. A Year of Mindfulness is an awesome choice because it has a ton of daily writing prompts!
11. Light an aromatherapy candle.
Candles definitely have a calming effect, especially if it’s a soothing scent like lavender or vanilla. I recommend B&BW’s candles, and love their Aromatherapy line. Yankee candles also smell amazing!
Some of my favorite scents:
12. Bake sweet bread.
There’s something comforting about the aroma of fresh bread warming up your kitchen. This recipe for homemade Banana Bread is AMAZING! 🍌🍞
13. Buy fresh flowers.
Flowers will lift your mood and bring the peaceful presence of nature indoors. 💐
14. Enjoy the smell of nature.
When you go out for a walk or are sitting in your backyard, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Take in the lovely scents of nature: freshly cut grass, trees, flowers, etc.
15. Make freshly brewed coffee in the morning.
Start your day off with the incredible scent of freshly brewed coffee in the morning! ☕
16. Find your favorite scent.
Ask yourself: what is your all-time favorite scent? What aromas make you feel calm, happy, and cozy? Personally, I adore warmer scents like cinnamon, vanilla, and coconut.
17. Use a diffuser.
Diffusers and essential oils are another useful self-soothing tool for aromatherapy. Here are 20 Best Essential Oil Diffusers to Make Your Home Smell Amazing!
18. Open your windows and breathe in fresh air.
Calming anxiety through smell can be as simple as opening your window for fresh air. Keep them opened for a bit to air out your place. As you’re doing this, take a few deep breaths: in and out, in and out. 🌤️
19. Ask yourself: what does home smell like?
Reflect on what “home” smells like for you.
For me, I think of my grandpa’s favorite Italian coffee that he’d brew every morning growing up. I also think about the aroma of my Nonna’s pasta sauce on Sundays and the earthy scent of Lake Michigan.
Close your eyes and imagine that “homey” scent for a while.
20. Put on lotion.
Pamper yourself by putting on some of your favorite lotion. As you’re applying it to your skin, keep your mind focused only on the scent of the lotion! What does it smell like? Do you like the scent? What does it remind you of?
Maybe it’s the beach, a day at the park, flowers, sweet treats, rainy days, or a clear night sky.
21. Wrap yourself up a in a cozy blanket.
Find the comfiest spot on your couch and cuddle up in a warm blanket. Weighted and waffle blankets are a great choice for comfort!
22. Snuggle with your pet.
Give your pet all the snuggles. Because what better way to calm anxiety than to cuddle your BFF? 🐶
23. Give yourself a massage.
24. Use relaxing bath products.
Soak in a bubblebath as a “spa day” at home. Try to incorporate products for relaxation specifically, whether you’re using liquid soap or a bath bomb!
My go-to bath finds for stress-relief:
- Lush’s Intergalactic Bath Bomb
- B&BW Lavender Vanilla Bubble Bath
- Lush’s Big Blue Bath Bomb
- Lush’s Sleepy Bubble Bar
25. Notice different objects and textures.
Take a moment to pay attention to and appreciate the different textures around you. What do you notice? For example, I’m sitting on my couch right now writing this post. I’m noticing the comfy texture of a blanket on my lap and the carpet underneath my feet.
26. Hug yourself or someone you love.
Also, hug someone you love and are grateful to have in your life! Close your eyes and feel the comfort of their warm embrace.
27. Cozy up in freshly clean sheets.
Freshly clean laundry is always extra soft and smells amazing! Clean your sheets, snuggle up, and relax for a bit before bed!
28. Wear soft and comfortable fabric.
Pick out a cozy outfit you can rock all day long. Some ideas are leggings, an oversized tee, biker shorts, a sports bra, and overalls!
29. Make your own de-stress dough.
Using a stress ball or play-dough is an effective way to self-soothe and calm anxiety. You can even make your own de-stress dough without much hassle!
30. Follow a restorative yoga video.
There are so many restorative yoga videos you can choose from on Youtube. My favorite one right now is this 30-Minute exercise from POPSUGAR Fitness!
31. Sit under a tree and feel the grass against your toes.
Relax your mind by closing your eyes, soaking up the sun, and feeling the grass against your toes. 🌳
32. Try a tea subscription box.
A cup of tea after a long day has a way of soothing the soul — it’s such a nice pick-me-up! Give a subscription box a try as a way to taste different tea varieties! Sips By sounds like a really fantastic option, but there are so many tea subscriptions to choose from!
33. Make a comforting home-cooked meal.
What is your favorite food? Look up a recipe online and make a comforting home-cooked meal! I’m a Mac & Cheese lover and recently found this delicious recipe by Tornadough Alli!
Recipes I’ve been cooking:
34. Cook up a healthy snack.
Make sure you’re taking care of your body by loading up on nutrient-rich foods. That means a colorful assortment of veggies, fruits, protein, and other healthy options! For some inspiration, check out this list of 50 Foods that Are Super Healthy!
35. Eat a piece of dark chocolate.
Munch on some yummy dark chocolate (or any dessert you enjoy!) Pay attention to its texture, richness, and fully enjoy the experience! 🍫
36. Chew gum.
If you’re feeling anxious, chew on a piece of gum. Try to focus only on your chewing for a bit as a way to distract yourself from external stressors. You can also always opt for sugar-free gum as a healthier variety!
37. Ask yourself: what are top 5 favorite foods?
Think of some food you really enjoy and start a recipe book featuring your favorite meals!
38. Use fresh herbs while cooking.
If possible, use fresh herb while cooking up dinner. You can even grow a little indoor garden with herbs like basil, parsley and chives!
39. Try a food that calms anxiety.
Incorporate foods that help with anxiety into your diet like yogurt, avocado, and nuts!
40. Eat slowly and mindfully, without any distractions.
Practice mindful eating by really taking the time to enjoy your food. Chew slowly, notice the different textures and flavors, and turn off any electronic distractions. Even eating dinner without the TV on makes a huge difference!
41. Listen to relaxing ambient sounds on YouTube.
What are some sounds that soothe your soul? Maybe it’s rain patterning against your window pane, traffic sounds, or ocean waves crashing against the shore. Bring those calming elements to you by look up ambient sounds on Youtube!
There are so many to choose from and you can play them in the background as a self-soothing technique.
Some of my favorite ambient sounds:
- Heavy Rain Hitting Window Sill of Cozy Apartment
- Night Ambient Sounds, Cricket, Swamp Sounds at Night
- Gentle Ocean Wave Sounds
- Wood Cabin Ambience | Heavy Snowstorm and Crackling Fireplace Sounds
- Open Window New York City Soundscape at Night
42. Call up someone you love.
Sometimes it’s comforting just to hear a familiar and friendly voice. Schedule some time out of your day to give someone you love a call!
43. Listen to birds chirp outside.
Surrounding yourself in the sounds of nature is a wonderful self-soothing technique. Grab a cup of coffee, knitting supplies, or even a good book and listen to the birds chirping outside!
44. Put on headphones and get lost in the music.
Listen to a new song (or an old favorite!) and just get lost in the beautiful sound of music. 🎶
45. Think of a sound that brings you a sense of peace.
Close your eyes, turn off any distractions, and imagine a peaceful sound. Maybe it’s rainfall, a friend’s laughter, or the the humming sound of a dishwasher. Why did you pick this sound in particular?
46. Find a relaxation podcast.
47. Recite positive affirmations out loud.
Positive affirmations are a powerful tool for showing yourself some love. Say a few statements out loud that resonate with you and make you feel good! 💗
48. Play vlogs, ASMR videos, or a radio show in the background.
As a way helpful way to calm your mind, listen to a program that brightens your day. Maybe it’s a TV show, ASMR video, radio program, or even a vlog.
Lately, I’ve been really enjoying Sierra Schultzzie’s vlogs when I’m working, cooking dinner, or winding down from the day. I also like listening to random radio shows on my Vinyl. It calms my anxiety a lot and distracts me when I’m feeling overwhelmed!
49. Listen to a feel-good audiobook.
Sometimes, you just want to cuddle up the couch and listen to a romance novel or feel-good audiobook! A few authors I recommend are Sarah Dessen, Jasmine Guillory, and Rainbow Rowell.
If you’re looking for some reading inspiration, I recommend checking out my dreamy summer reading list! ☀️
Also, here are 15 Feel-Good Books to Read Right Now via The EveryGirl. Find out if your local library’s database has audio versions of these books!
50. Make a “Top 20” of your all-time favorite songs.
Have you ever listened to a song that brings you back to a happy, unforgettable moment? Maybe it’s not even a moment in time necessarily, but just a general feeling.
Make a Top 20 Playlist of songs that do that for you! I recently made my personal “Top 20” playlist for free on Spotify!
I hope you enjoyed this post, lovelies! Have a fantastic rest of your day! x
What are some self-soothing techniques that personally help you? Are they similar to any of the ideas on this list?