Eating Disorders Recovery: Self-Soothing Techniques

Using self-soothing techniques can be a strong defense when stress, circumstances beyond our control, or negative thoughts and feelings become overwhelming.

1. to tranquilize or calm, as a person or the feelings; relieve, comfort, or refresh
2. to mitigate, assuage, or allay, as pain, sorrow, or doubt exert a soothing influence; bring tranquility, calm, ease, or comfort.

Nurturing Your 5 Senses

Our 5 senses are powerful. What we hear, touch, see, smell, and taste can have a profound impact on our feelings and mood. Although it's impossible to always be in control of what our senses are exposed to, we can make a conscious effort to supply them with things that calm and soothe us, and lift our spirits. 

When you choose to do something to soothe yourself let everything go and be in the moment. Truly immerse yourself and allow what you're doing to seep deep into your being. Put everything else aside, relax and enjoy it while it's happening.

  • take a walk along the beach and enjoy the sound of the waves, the seagulls
  • stretch out on a blanket in the woods and listen to the birds, the wind through the trees, the gurgling of a brook
  • play music that makes you feel calm, comforted, safe
  • listen to a CD of nature sounds (the ocean, rain, birds singing...)

  • take your shoes off and walk in the sand, grass, or along the water's edge
  • soak in a warm bath (use a scented bath oil or favorite bubble bath)
  • float in a pool and feel the water around you
  • sink into soft sheets/comfortable bed
  • wrap yourself in a blanket still warm from the dryer
  • slip into your favorite, softest robe

  • take a walk through a park and enjoy nature
  • spread a blanket on the beach and watch the waves
  • sit in a garden and enjoy the flowers, bees, butterflies
  • study a favorite piece of art
  • look through your favorite pictures
  • take a ride through your favorite part of town
  • spread a blanket under the stars
  • treat yourself to your favorite flowers and put them somewhere you'll see them often

    • light a scented candle
    • walk outside after it's rained
    • step into a florist shop or garden and smell the flowers
    • put on your favorite perfume
    • shower with scented soap
    • spritz your sheets with a favorite scent before bed

    • enjoy a cup of your favorite tea (notice the taste, the warmth of the cup in your hands, the warmth of the liquid)
    • cook your favorite meal
    • have a picnic and invite a friend
    • try something new and different 


      Sit comfortably (if possible), spine straight, feet on the floor, shoulders and arms relaxed. Keep your throat open and your lips slightly parted. Close your eyes. Breath in slowly, through you're nose, to a slow count of 5. Let your tummy expand with each breath. Once you get the feel of how long a 5 count breath is, stop counting them. Let the breath linger for a moment before exhaling slowly through your mouth for 5 counts. (The best example that I've heard of on how this is done is see your breath like a wave that washes up onto the shore and lingers before receding back into the ocean).


      Use the above breathing technique. Choose a word that you can relate to how you want to feel, such as "relax, calm, or safe." Say this word to yourself as you exhale. As you begin to relax, picture yourself walking along a beautiful beach (or any other place that suits you). Take in the sounds and sights... the waves, the gulls, the wind. Feel the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze on your skin. Feel the sand under your feet. Notice how blue the water and the sky are. The tall grasses move gently with the breeze. Make it as vivid as you can, filled with the imagery of the things you find beautiful, enjoyable, and relaxing.

      Positive Self-Talk

      What we tell ourselves is powerful.What we attached to the word "I" has a deep impact on us. We all get negative thoughts now and again and the anxiety, guilt, shame, and stress they bring with them. When the old tapes start playing and we find ourselves faced with negative self talk, it's time to switch gears and provide positive, self nurturing replacements. Examples:
      • I am a good person
      • I can accomplish anything
      • I am special 
      • I am worth knowing
      • I am happy
      • I am capable
      • I am smart
      • I am confident
      • I am learning
      • I am growing
      • I am successful


       Bottling up our feelings, fears, and negative thoughts will not make them go away.Get it out. Put them to paper.

      Acknowledge and Act
      • acknowledge how you're feeling
      • accept your feelings
      • take time to calm yourself
      • reinforce with positive self-talk

        Practice, Practice, Practice!

        The more you practice taking care of yourself, the easier it becomes. Don't get frustrated if the first few times you try to visualize your beautiful beach (or whatever place you have chosen) that you're unable to see it clearly. That's to be expected for most of us. It will become clearer with practice.

        Each time you replace a negative thought or negative self-talk with positive alternatives you're changing  how you perceive yourself and eventually it will become easier and easier to do.

        When you're short on time or in a situation where you're unable to do anything that takes you away from what you're doing, slip in a few deep, slow breaths. It will help de-stress and calm you.

        Notice and enjoy the little things. Promise yourself that you'll take a moment to enjoy at least one thing everyday that you normally pass by without appreciating. It doesn't have to be anything big or important. Have you ever studied the intricate design of a spider web? Pretty amazing.

        Relax. Breathe. Nurture. Enjoy. You deserve it!

        *See sidebar for more recovery tools and inspiration.

        picture source:


          Inside the Mind of a... said...

          Thank you for these suggestions!!

          MrsMenopausal said...

          You're welcome :) Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

          forever_hopeful said...

          These suggestions are fantastic, I will definitely try them! Thank you so much!

          MrsMenopausal said...

          I'm so glad you like them. Thank you for commenting. I love comments! :)

          Self Nurturing said...

          Your site is an inspiration and support for so many. Thank you for sharing this abundance of information. Self nurturing is so important for people overcoming eating disorders, they so need to self comfort and self sooth. You have great articles and informative information.

          MrsMenopausal said...

          I totally agree with you about the self-soothing and comforting. Thank you, Self Nurturing, for you kind words and for taking the time to comment. Both are very much appreciated.