Soothe thy self


In my practice, a frequent question is how to deal with getting activated from my clients with anxious attachments. It’s incredibly uncomfortable in the moment when your anxiety shoots up, you put the human you’re getting to know on a pedestal and begin questioning if you’re good enough or not. Or if they like you. Or if you will ever see them again. It’s a painful experience I can totally relate to and luckily, I’m here to share tips on how to soothe yourself in moments of activated anguish.

I learned the following techniques from one of my teachers Josh Korda. He shared these exercise at a Dharma Punx talk and I found them to be useful and easy tools to have in your back pocket. They may sound too simple to actually work, but they I promise they do.

Sooth thy self techniques:

  1. Change your breath— when we get activated we go into our sympathetic nervous system- fight or flight- and our anxiety/fear cranks up. A good indicator of this is our breath. It usually becomes short, quick inhalations and short exhalations. In order to deactivate yourself, begin to focus on elongating the exhales. For example, if you’re inhaling for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 6. Focusing on the exhales will help your body remove cortisol from your blood, deactivate you and switch you back to your parasympathetic nervous system- rest and digest-where we want to be.

  2. Acknowledge your feelings—acknowledge the anxiety coming up, the fear, the insecurity. If you comfortable, express it to the person you are with and it will help your body/mind release the overwhelm. If you don’t want to share it with the person you are with excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. After doing the breathing exercise above, put your hands on you heart, close your eyes and one by one call out the feelings you’re experiencing. Sit with each emotion, let it fill you entirely and then when you feel it pass you can call forth the next if there is one (this takes 5 minutes or so).

  3. Touch- When someone we love touches us, endorphins are released and we feel less pain. Guess what? You can be the someone you love touching you! Do this by cupping your hand on the back of your neck, letting the hand give gentle pressure and take 3-4 breaths with focus on the exhale. You can also put your opposite hand on your opposite forearm, again letting there by gentle pressure and take 3-5 breaths with the focus on the exhales.

These techniques will help deactivate your brain from all the dopamine and cortisol running through your blood stream and allow the brain to settle down. I also recommend seeking support from a coach/therapist or 12 step to work through getting activated and how to move forward, but these techniques will get you out of the woods and back to safety in the moment.

If you need support working through getting activated, I look forward to connecting over a session.