Survivors of trauma often experience exhausting and distressing aftereffects, such as nightmares, flashbacks, and mood changes. A DBT skill that can help calm our nervous system when we experience distress is Self-Soothing, and here's a way that it can be practiced:
Imagine you are in the presence of a baby that you love and care for. The baby becomes distressed. He's crying. His face is turning red. He's all tense, scrunched up, and pouting. What is your first instinct as to how to soothe this baby? Your answer may hold the key to helping yourself the next time you feel distressed.
Although the concept may seem initially strange, you can give yourself the same kind of self-soothing the next time you're in an emotionally charged state, and it can help!
I actually use this technique. When I imagined the baby scenario, for me, I'd hold the baby in my arms and reassure him that he was okay -- that he was safe. I'd rub his back and softly sing to him.
When I am really distressed, I swaddle up in a soft blanket and reassure myself that I am not in any present danger. I may gently rock or hold myself until I begin to feel calmer.
This is a technique to consider the next time you are feeling dysregulated.
Thanks for reading.
You may also enjoy reading:
Self Soothing As An Adult
Autogenics for the Ultimate Self-Soothing & Relaxation
Taking Care of YOU: Why and How To Soothe Your Nervous System
Make Your Own DBT Self-Soothing Kit