7 simple ways to soothe your soul
The world can sometimes feel a little crazy, we are faced with all kinds of challenges in life. It’s useful to have some quick techniques to calm and soothe your soul when adversity arises or anxiety takes hold. When you are feeling stressed, no matter where you are, these simple techniques can help to restore calm and a sense of ease.
1. The first approach is to consciously breathe out and let go of any tension that you may be holding. A simple deep breath has the power to transform our experience in any moment. Conscious breathing is said to be one of the best antidotes to stress, anxiety and depression.
2. Physical touch can be immensely healing. It has the ability to slow your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure, increase endorphin levels, reduce anxiety, aid sleep and strengthen your immune system. While many may be physically isolated, you can still use touch on yourself, perhaps stroke your arm. Effleurage massage or stroking massage is a technique that involves slow strokes, it has additional benefits when it is done over parts of the body with skin hair. Reflexologists recommend foot rubs – take out your favourite oil or cream and massage it in. You may also stimulate reflex points to support and balance your system. Placing your hand on your heart is another form of touch that can feel particularly nourishing, perhaps making a clockwise circular motion with your hand over your chest. If you are living with others, why not offer them a massage or some touch, both of you will reap the rewards (and they may even offer to massage you in return!). It is good also to hug a tree and yes, they do hug back!
3. Gratitude is known to be directly related to joy and so practising gratitude uplifts our souls. Simply bring to mind things in your life that you are grateful for. We can also bring to mind things that bring us joy, such as a memory of a joyful time or a person that we love. Brene Brown’s research demonstrated that practising gratitude relates to increased joy. “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.” (Brene Brown). There are many ways through which we can practise gratitude, such as using a gratitude journal, naming things you are grateful for at certain times of the day, expressing our appreciation to others, saying grace or sharing blessings with family and loved ones.
4. Spending some time connecting with nature, a walk in the woods or along a beach can be deeply nourishing. No matter where you are, there will be some nature to connect with, maybe the clouds in the sky or a potted plant or the ground beneath your feet. “Nature isn’t a miracle cure for diseases, but by interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it and appreciating it we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result.” (McRobert). It’s worthwhile to cultivate a sense of wonder and awe, look at something as if it is the first time you have ever seen it. I love walking barefoot, this is also known as earthing and there is now scientific evidence showing a number of remarkable health advantages, such as increasing antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep. So kick off those shoes!
5. Express your unique soul’s creativity – sing, dance, garden, draw… whatever it is that encourages lightness within you. If you tend to procrastinate then just begin and create art, not excuses. Mark Manson suggests that action isn’t just the effect of motivation; it’s also the cause of it. By doing something we can initiate motivation within us and become inspired. You know the feeling…. brainstorm activities that bring joy to your soul and then spend time engaging with them.
6. Be nourishing and gentle with yourself. Create a small space (or a large space is even better) in each day to do something nurturing for yourself, even if it’s just lighting a candle, listening to a favourite piece of music or having your favourite mug of tea. The things you love and find comforting are unique to you, so allow yourself to indulge in them without feeling guilty. By loving yourself you have more to give to the rest of the world. The other thing that can help to soothe our souls is to help someone else, reach out to someone who is by themselves or drop some groceries off with a neighbour or find a flower for someone you love.
7. Finally (and perhpas most effectively) to soothe your soul become more present and let go of any worries or fear-based thoughts. It is a cliche though true none-the-less that the only moment we have is right here, right now. When we come into the moment, we realise that right now all is well. So if you catch yourself being tight or wound up become mindful of the present moment, tune in to your senses and what is happening around you. You may find that all is very well.
November 12, 2020