How to Use Your Six Senses to Self-Soothe

How to Use Your Six Senses to Self-Soothe

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed by an emotion and as a result, acted on that emotion, only to regret it later? I know I have. We’ve all experienced a moment when we’ve responded with an emotionally-charged text or email, later wishing we had never pressed send.

Sometimes all we can do in the moment is tolerate the emotions. We may be at school or work and are unable to make things better right then and there. However, we can prevent ourselves from making things worse.

According to Marsha Linehan and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, we can use distress tolerance skills to self-soothe and help us during these situations. Self-soothing involves finding ways to comfort and nurture yourself during difficult times.

One easy and effective way you can self-soothe is to use your six senses:


Find something or think of something that is visually appealing to you and will help calm your mind. For example, pull out your favorite photos, find a photo of a scape or scenery that relaxes you, stare at your favorite poster or piece of artwork, visualize in your mind the last time you felt happy or calm, or think of your favorite vacation spot.


The sense of smell can be a tremendous asset when trying to soothe or relax. Put on your favorite perfume, cologne or lotion, light a scented candle you enjoy, spray a calming room spray, smell freshly brewed coffee, or make cookies or popcorn and notice the yummy scent.


Treating your taste buds to something delicious can be both comforting and joyful. Try eating some of your favorite foods, drink your favorite healthy beverage, or have your favorite ice cream. Don’t forget to eat mindfully and make sure to pay attention to the flavors.


The sensation of touch can help you calm your body and your mind. Take a long bath or shower, pet your dog or cat, put on your most comfortable clothes, or hug someone or be hugged.


Listening to something you enjoy can help you calm down quickly. Listen to your favorite music or podcast, go for a walk in nature and listen to the sounds of the birds, sing a song or play a favorite instrument, or call a friend or family member whose voice is comforting to you.


Movement does wonders for calming the nervous system, and it releases endorphins, allowing you to feel better fast. Stretch, go for a walk or run, or dance to your favorite music (engaging in both sound & movement).

Managing difficult situations is not easy and it may require doing one or five of the suggestions above. And that’s ok! Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to not make the situation worse.

Once you’ve figured out what works for you, keep it accessible at home or work. If you know you are going to have a tough day ahead, you can prepare and bring things to help get you through it with ease such as headphones, scented lotion, or your favorite snack for a quick pick-me-up. For me, I have a lavender pillow spray that I like to keep handy. Jot down a quick list of things that make you feel calm and at ease, and make sure to keep them nearby for when the next difficult situation arises.

Authored by:  Jen Jamgochian