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4 Powerful Self-Soothing Techniques for Anxiety & Mental Illness

Self-soothing is one of the most effective tools we have to get through the most painful and scary moments in life. While these techiques don’t solve any problems for us, they do help us manage the fear and anxiety that prevent us from taking action. Self-soothing is also crucial for maintaining mental health and staying recovered from addiction or an eating disorder.

We all struggle with anxiety from time to time. Even though it’s uncomfortable, it’s a natural and sometimes useful sensation. It helps us feel when something is wrong or dangerous long before we figure it out logically. If all is well with our natural anxiety response, the bad feeling shouldn’t stick around. Anxiety is supposed to subside soon after we remove ourselves from the sketchy situation or solve the problem.

For most people, anxiety and panic attacks are rare occurrences which are stressful, but not major life problems. Unfortunately though, for many of us that’s not the case. Nearly 1 our of every 5 Americans struggle with chronic, heightened anxiety that doesn’t go away even when the danger has passed.

The Self-Soothing Skills Toolbox: 4 Effective Tips and Techniques

If you’re having a hard time dealing with recurrent anxiety and overwhelming emotions, these # self-soothing tools can help. They are simple, affordable, healthy and non-addictive things we can do on our own. If you ever find yourself feeling out-of-control, start with taking a deep breath. After that, you can reach into your toolbox of self-soothing skills and techniques so you can move past the anxiety and get back to normal.

1. Mindful Breathing

Let’s start out with the simplest, and most readily available self-soothing technique. Mindful breathing should be our 1st response to any crisis. Think of it like the EMT showing up at an emergency scene. It can help us get through the immediate situation and, just like EMT, take us to a more secure place where we are actually able to address the problem.

There’s no one single way to breathe mindfully. Experiment and find a technique that feels comfortable and soothing for you. One popular technique goes like this:

  • Start by closing your eyes and breathing normally.
  • Imagine that all of your anxiety, fear, and stress is a material that’s floating in the air around you like a toxin.
  • Now, imaging that cloud of anxiety in the air, start to breathe it in.
  • Like what a plant does with carbon dioxide, your body will metabolize the toxin and you will blow out pure, clean air.
  • Repeating this process, you will eventually “clean up” all the anxiety in the area and you will open your eyes to a calmer, non-toxic environment.

2. Walk through nature

For anxiety that follows us home and just won’t let up, this is the tool we need. Walking through nature is deeply relaxing and quickly alleviates an anxious mood. Research shows that a walk through nature immediately soothes us, and promotes mental health. Also, brain imaging confirms that nature walks reduce blood flow to the parts of our brain that process anxiety and negative thinking.

So if you’re feeling stuck in an anxious, tense mood, put your walking shoes on and get outside!

3. Use your Hands

Sometimes, we just need to DO something to release all of that anxious energy. Working on something with our hands is self-soothing because it is an excellent distraction from our racing thoughts. Repetitive, easy tasks can help distract us from the issue and stop the negative thought cycle.

Hand distractions are a great self-soothing tool for anyone feeling anxious. However, it’s important to note that those with excoriating disorder (skin-picking disorder), trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), or rep

Here are some things to try:

  • Drawing: It doesn’t have to come out beautiful. You can even just scribble if you like!
  • Knitting/Crocheting
  • Coloring in a mandala or some other design/image.
  • Playing with a fidget spinner
  • Chopping veggies for dinner later

4. Create a Literal Tool Box of Soothing Objects

Find a nice box that you like, or just grab any old cardboard shoebox. Then just fill it with soothing objects! Keep it around the house, in your car, or at work. Some people make tiny to-go kits that fit in their bags too.

Here are a few examples of nice, soothing objects to include:

  • A bottle of fragrant essential oil
  • A bundle of comforting photos (polaroids are great for this)
  • A small book
  • Art supplies
  • Fidget Toys or silly Putty
  • A candle

Common Obstacles to Self-Soothing

A lot of adults feel like they can’t use self-soothing behaviors because they are afraid of feeling babyish, weird or silly. Another common obstacle is the common, although completely false, belief that one “doesn’t deserve” to take care of oneself.

Whatever the obstacle is, we should try our best to overcome it. After all, taking charge of our mental health and deliberately confronting our emotions is the mature thing to do.

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The Top 10 Most Hilarious and Relatable Recovery Memes for Anyone with Addiction or Mental Illness

Getting past an addiction or a mental health disorder is anything but a joke. It’s always complicated, sometimes frustrating, and it usually drains all of our energy by the end of the day. So, if you’re in recovery, most likely you could do with a good laugh right about now! Thankfully, these 10 hilarious and relatable recovery memes can help us find humor where it usually hides.

One: Explaining Recovery

recovery meme 1

Therapy, medication, wild ups and downs, horrible symptoms: these are things that we deal with every day which most people don’t understand. Trying to explain it all to someone who can’t relate is like trying to instantly become a neuroscientist, chemist, psychologist, and philosophy professor all at once. This meme just about sums up the feeling. 

Two: Why are you ____?

why you depressed

Yup, swap out the word ‘depressed’ for whichever mental health disorder you’re specifically struggling with and bam! we’ve all had this same exact conversation at some time or another.

What do people even expect you to say when they ask something like?

  • Why are you addicted to X, Y or Z?
  • Why are you so Bipolar?
  • Why are you always so sad/anxious?

Um… because I am! That’s my disorder, duh! Can we talk about something more productive now?

Three: Hard to Swallow Pills

self esteem meme

Addictions and most mental health disorders can really mess with our thoughts and self-esteem. It’s common for our disorders to make us think that we’re unloved, or secretly hated which is exactly why this meme is so relatable. We’ve all freaked out at least once about a relationship we thought was in danger, and then been reassured that it is in fact perfectly fine, and our friend does indeed love us.

Four: Just Cheer Up!

just cheer up

Wow! What a brilliant idea to just cheer up. Let’s just not worry about the fact that depression stems from extremely complicated origins that we don’t yet fully understand including our brain’s levels of neurotransmitters and electrochemical functioning that may also be attributed to a genetic predisposition to the disorder that we have absolutely no control over….

Five: It’s Time!

anxiety its time

I don’t know if the feeling of anxiety has ever been depicted so accurately in one meme! People often ask, ‘what are you so anxious about?’ As if there were a clear definite answer. More often than not, mental illness makes us feel a type of anxiety that’s so nebulous we can’t easily describe the source. It’s just there.

Six: Surprise! I’m Back!

Relapse is the most frustrating thing in the world. We work sooooo hard on getting our symptoms, cravings, and destructive behaviors in check and then one day we get a flare up. It’s going to happen sometimes. That’s just part of the whole deal, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to still sit there and think “Why!?”

Seven: When You’re Trying to Help, but You Need Help Too 

trucks mental breakdown

When you finally find a group of friends that truly understand your recovery journey, it’s great… Up until you guys happen to have breakdowns at the same exact time! Someone who is in crisis can’t exactly bring someone else out of a crisis, it usually just ends up in a bigger crisis.

That’s why, on a more serious note, we encourage all friend groups to be ready to reach for outside help when things get out of control. Even though you guys are practically experts in mental health after all the treatment you’ve been through, we have to recognize our limits. Contact an interventionist if you or one of your friends are in a serious or persistent crisis.

Eight: Only Recovery, No Therapy!

Let’s be honest guys, therapy is hard! It’s not always such a relaxing and lovely experience as it’s portrayed to be. Usually, we end up crying a bunch, recognizing new problems, and feeling wild ups and downs.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just get to the recovery part and skip the hard work part?

Nine: True Love

This meme is bittersweet but so accurate. If you’re recovering from addiction, mental illness, or an eating disorder then you know too well how fragile relationships can be. Friends, lovers, family members: it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship it is or how strong it’s supposed to be. People who don’t understand the symptoms will often respond by letting you down and disappearing. It’s a sad thing, but it also means the people who stick around are the ones that truly love us.

Ten: Self Care and Positivity!

self care meme

This pic is so hilarious because it really feels like using self-care and positivity is the best weapon we have around to conquer our symptoms of mental illness. If self-care and positivity aren’t cutting it right now though, and you’re thinking about relapse it’s time to get some extra help.

Thank you for checking out our favorite, most relatable recovery memes! If they helped brighten up an otherwise grey day, then that means they did their job.

Remember, if you or someone you love is going through a difficult moment right now we can help. Just reach out to us by clicking the button below and we will try to provide the assistance you need.  

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