Thursday, July 12, 2012

Challenge 1, Part 2: Self Soothing

Continuing with this challenging topic, moving into self-soothing, where I struggle even more, has been an interesting process.  Again, keep in mind, as negative as this might seem, I do know that things can only get better and easier, which is the silver lining on this whole process!  I think that compared to self care, self soothing is a whole different ball game.  My ways of soothing myself, of calming myself, aren't the healthiest.  So once again, a heck of a lot of effort gets put into this area as well.  I am super sensitive to light, sound, texture, temperature, all that stuff.  It poses a challenge more often than not, but I'm getting better at figuring out (with the help of my therapist and team) how to work through these sensory overload situations.

This might sound childish or corny, but I am very much a texture person - I love the feel of softness.  If I'm having a really hard day, I may tuck a scrap of this ultra soft cuddly fleece into my pocket, just so I have it for comfort.  I have super soft sheets for my bed, and a blanket made of the ultra soft fleece as well.  In addition, I do have a few stuffies that live on my bed that are perfect for when I need to wrap my arms around something and just hold tight.  All the softness is really comforting.  Strangely enough, as much as I hate the dentist, I like the feeling of having the lead vest covering me.  It is really helpful in grounding me when I get too spacy.  I have looked into weighted blankets that are helpful for those with autism, and due to costs, I'm hoping I'll eventually be able to make my own?  Not that crafty, so we'll see how that goes!

Other things I do at home to self-soothe include napping, reading a familiar book (it's like visiting my best friends,) and listening to music.  I also like to do yoga, and find a few restorative poses can be really helpful.  Sometimes I'm just so disoriented and upset, that all I can do is curl up in a ball and breathe, but you know what?  It works.

When I'm not at home, it's a little tougher to self-soothe when I get into a bad spot.  I do carry Xanax with me (and would not be able to survive without it) which is great because of it's near instant impact.  It usually gives me enough time to get refocused without going into a full on anxiety attack.  Carrying the little bit of fabric helps too, cause the softness can easily be run through my fingers without drawing attention to me.  Considering I teach grade school, my students often have little fidgets in their hands, so they see it the same and love that their teacher uses fidgets too!  Strange as this may sound, if I'm struggling, sometimes I will call my therapist's voicemail, just to hear her voice, which has a really calming effect on me.  At home or out and about, sometimes a walk outside (if the weather is cooperative) can also help.

While I know that many of my self-soothing tools are rather childish, they're what I've got right now.  Eventually I hope that I don't get as overstimulated and am better able to regulate just through breathing or what-not, but for now?  You gotta do what you gotta do, right?!


  1. it's so hard when our self soothing are things that are unhealthy, and it's even harder when those are the things that work the best... but once we are able to break out of that and find healthy things we can replace those with - it's such a wonderful feeling!!

    i have stuffed animals on my bed too! sometimes we just need to cuddle something ; )

  2. It feels like such a slow process Jenn, replacing unhealthy with healthy. I just want something that works! (And unfortunately, society would probably freak out if a grown adult was walking around hugging a stuffed animal in public!) =)

  3. Dear Purple Dreamer, This is such an interesting topic and also a reminder to all of us to look for these things, places, people, whatever works for each of us. I was reminded,while reading your post of years ago when I taught nursery school: My class was 2 1/2 to 3 year olds---tiny tykes. Some would be so upset when their Mom or Dad left them there. So I would ask the parent to give me their keys (minus car key, of course) and the child could hold that until they got centered or the whole morning if they wanted. Or, sometimes it would be another item that the parent always carried. It really worked!
    Later, when I was in therapy myself, my therapist was going away for a month so she gave me a Care Bear as a "transitional object". I wasn't complaining about her going, but, she just did that. The bear rode around with me in my car, in the passenger seat. It was funny to me how much I liked that little stuffed bear and how long I kept it. It had a blue hat.

    1. Hi Paula! Thanks for stopping by!
      There is definitely something about physically holding on to a reminder of the person that is being missed. I know even with my older students (8-10 year olds) they like to have reminders of family with them, and many have a picture of mom, dad, or the family pet on their desks. It's really quite sweet! As an adult, that transition object is sooooo helpful for me, too. I'm still learning how this whole act of self-soothing works, and if I'm given something physical to hold on to during challenging times, it helps a heck of a lot more than any words could!


So? What do you think?