From the time we’re infants, we learn various ways to self-soothe our negative emotional states.
How we make ourselves feel better has a major impact on the types of challenges we face in life. There are ways to deal with stress, negative, neutral, and positive ways. Dealing with stress in a negative way can have serious repercussions. Adopting positive strategies can make life much easier!
Examples of negative self-soothing strategies:
1. Food. Eating as a means of easing stress or sadness often leads to obesity and a host of other health concerns. Eating is a very common means of making ourselves feel better. Before eating, ask yourself if you’re hungry.
2. Shopping. Making unnecessary purchases can create financial challenges. The high received from spending money is very short-lived. Adding financial stress on top of other concerns isn’t going to help.
3. Drugs or alcohol. Drugs can limit your ability to work and deal with life in general. Financial pressure is another likely outcome. If you’re utilizing alcohol or drugs as a tool for coping, seek professional help to aid you in adopting more positive coping strategies.
4. Sex. Unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases can occur from the use of sex to self-soothe. Sex can be fun, exciting, and distracting, but if used improperly, it can also create huge challenges that can affect the rest of your life.
Notice that all of these methods of dealing with stress fail to solve the underlying issues.
They also cause additional stress in the future. This is hardly a complete list.
Think about whether or not your coping techniques are negative.
Examples of neutral strategies:
1. Television, reading, cleaning, exercise, or any other distraction. These distractions fail to provide a solution, but they aren’t likely to cause additional harm.
* They can even have some benefits. Certain reading materials are helpful. And having a cleaner home isn’t too bad either. But you’re still left with the source of your stress.
2. Spending time with others. This could be positive, depending on how the time is spent. If you’re merely distracting yourself, it’s neutral.
If you’re employing neutral strategies to self-soothe, at least you’re not creating additional challenges. It’s possible to handle your stress in even more effective ways, however.
It’s possible to handle your stress in even more effective ways, however.
Examples of positive strategies:
1. Focusing on solutions. Solutions eliminate the causes of your distress. Taking your mind off your challenge and directing it to find an answer also serves to reduce stressful feelings.
2. Discussing your challenge with someone. You’re likely to gain new insights while simultaneously putting yourself in a happier state. Brainstorm together and look for a way to eliminate the cause of your emotional distress.
3. Journaling. Putting your thoughts on paper can ease your stress and be the start of a solution. You also have the benefit of recording your life for future reference.
Are you self-soothing in a positive way?
These methods do require confronting the stressful situation, so they don’t provide the instant, easy relief that other, less effective methods do.
The good news is that you’re addressing the root cause of your stress!
Make a list of 5 ways to deal with your fear, sadness, or stress that are more positive than your current strategies.
Which is most likely to work for you? Everyone is different, so avoid believing that one solution is best for everyone. Everyone has a primary strategy for dealing with uncomfortable feelings.
What’s yours? How can you self-soothe more effectively? A positive means of easing negative emotions is priceless.
Manage your emotional pain in a way that not only avoids additional challenges but also confronts the source.