Self-soothing activities are an effective way to help you feel calm and manage your emotions.
Before engaging in a self-soothing activity, you will first want to name how you are feeling. For instance, “I am feeling sad, upset, angry, or hopeless.”
When you can’t pinpoint your exact feelings, use the Calm Feelings Wheel (see below) to explore and discover the adjectives that align with how you are feeling in this moment. Notice where the words you have chosen are placed on the circle (closer to the middle or closer to the outside). If you find you are choosing adjectives that are closer to the outer part of the circle, you are experiencing more intense feelings that may require you to spend more time engaging in self-soothing activities to feel calm.
By understanding and recognizing where you are on the spectrum of emotions, you are practicing self-awareness. Self-awareness can help guide you to a coping or self-soothing activity that is right. Here are some ideas of self-soothing activities to put in your toolbox.
Whether it’s a book, a blog post, or a positive magazine article, reading can help you refocus your attention and reduce stress. Just remember to avoid negative and stress-inducing articles.
Start a mindfulness or gratitude journal to help you feel a sense of control over the current feelings or situation. Writing our thoughts around a specific event, or certain feelings you are experiencing can facilitate deeper reflection and greater self-knowledge. (There are journaling tools in the Calm app, which is free to all Hopkins affiliates. If you’re not already using Calm, you can access it from this page. Don’t download directly from the App Store or Google Play.)
Take a 10-minute break listening to soothing music, or relatable or interesting podcasts. Watching funny YouTube videos can also help you feel less stressed during the day.
Sometimes we just need to move our bodies. Attend a virtual exercise class with JHU Recreation or the Cooley Center or take a 15-minute yoga break. Go for a run or a walk. It doesn’t have to be a structured exercise, just movement that brings you joy.
Allowing time for activities that cultivate play and enjoyment is part of self-care. Often, we feel pressure to be productive, with class work, research, work, student involvement, or anything else. Play should include time spent without purpose, and should be something you don’t want to end. Ideas of play include video games, dancing, virtual games with friends, playing an instrument, and singing. Look at GuidePost #7 on Brene Brown’s “Guideposts for Wholehearted Living” to learn more about play.
When you are feeling anxious or nervous about something, grounding techniques can help you feel safer. Here are some examples:
*These pages are maintained by offices connected to Homewood Student Affairs and may mention resources that are available only to Homewood students.