Tools for a self-soothing toolkit

From time to time, we all need a little boost in self-soothing. It’s helpful to have a toolkit – things that we can use to calm our nervous system at any time. These techniques are also good components of a bedtime routine. Here are a few of my favorite tools in my self-soothing toolkit:

Quick Coherence Technique – video here. Breathe from the center of your chest; slow down your respiratory rate to about 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out. Once you have the rhythm, deliberately access good feelings by thinking of someone or something that inspires gratitude, compassion, or appreciation. Do this for 3-5 minutes.

Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing – video here. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, exhale for a count of 8. Repeat.

Simple EFT – video here. Tap on the sides of your hands, thinking of your problem and affirming that you accept yourself. Then tap the top of your head, inside eyebrow corner, outside of eye, under eye, under nose, under lip, under collar bone, and under armpits. Repeat till you feel better.

Soothing Butterfly Hug – video here. Cross your hands over your chest and alternate tapping each side, rhythmically, like the wings of a butterfly. Do this for several minutes while breathing comfortably.

Simplified Self-Havening – video here. Place your hands on opposite shoulders and run them down your arms to your elbows, firmly but not harshly. Repeat.

Yoga moves for relaxation – especially great for bedtime.

Use rolled blankets and pillows for support! Hold each pose for a few minutes. For an extra-soothing session, play some soothing background music, like this from Buddha’s Lounge, or this from Zen Meditation Planet.

Child’s Pose

Supported Bridge Pose

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Legs Up the Wall

Supported Spinal Twist

Corpse Pose/Savasana

Soothing bedtime routine

After washing up and getting into your comfy clothes, light a candle, pull out your notebook, and take a few minutes to reflect on your day. Write your gratitudes – three unique things you are grateful for right now. Keep your lighting as dim as feasible for this.

Then, dim the lights even more. Pull out your yoga mat, some rolled blankets and pillows, turn on some soothing music, and do a few soothing yoga postures.

Sit on your mat, or on some pillows on your mat, close your eyes, and do a few minutes of Quick Coherence Technique or 4-7-8 breathing (see above).

Spray your pillow with lavender. Roll up your mat, put your blankets and pillows back, blow out your candle. Make any final adjustments before going to bed.

Make sure your room is dark and cool, and that your bedding and bedclothes are not too warm.

You can lie on your back with one hand on your heart and one on your belly while you allow a soft smile to play on your face. Think gently about the goodness of your day, the sweet dreams you will have, and allow yourself to drift off to sleep.

If you have trouble sleeping, try entraining your brainwaves by breathing slowly or listening to some delta wave binaural beats, like this from Yellow Brick Cinema or this from Sleep Tube. I really love this from Jason Lewis Mind Amend, though it’s alpha-theta waves and meant to boost the immune system. 😊

What are your favorite bedtime routines? Your favorite items for a self-soothing toolkit? Leave me a comment and let me know!


Image sources: Child’s Pose: Very Well Fit; Supported Bridge: Women’s Health Network; Reclining Bound Angle: My Health Alberta; Legs Up the Wall: Peleton; Supported Spinal Twist: Yoga International; Savasana: Yoga Journal


Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT, is a counselor in private practice and specializes in working with people who have serious illnesses. A student of the Ageless Wisdom, she is dedicated to sharing the Great Invocation.