12 Ways to Self Soothe on a Shoestring
Tools For Braving the Urban Jungle
For nearly two decades, I underestimated the sheer stress that comes just by choosing to live in an urban jungle. Amidst the traffic, poor air quality, high cost of living, and the general pace of life — Los Angeles is by far the most stressful places I’ve lived. You actually have to TRY to relax here, which is really saying something. It led me to wonder: What are some easy ways to self-soothe? I found a few I wanted to share with you.
- Outdoor exercise – If you live in a big city or have an indoor desk job, you might have a deficit of exposure to Mother Earth. People with Nature Deficit Disorder who exercise outdoors in a natural environment are less agitated and have an easier time focusing. Take my NDD challenge.
- Indoor exercise – One psychologist I interviewed told me in his 25+ years of clinical practice, he firmly believes that a full 90 percent of his patients experiencing depression would not require therapy if they would just exercise regularly. The bottom line is that the stress has to go somewhere. Exercise releases the stress and gives you a boost of mood enhancing endorphins. Think of it as natural morphine. More…
- Music – Lay off the Coldplay. Listening to upbeat music will cheer you up and distract you from negative thoughts. Listening to music on the way to work or coming home is a great way help you unwind during your commute. Two of my favorite upbeat Spotify playlists: PEACE LOVE LUNGES and to motivate you at the gym, here are my 100 Great Workout Songs.
- Foot massage is a natural healing modality based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. You don’t need to pay for this. I wear foot-stimulating sandals in the evening once a week, which you can pick up for less than $10 and it seems to do a nice job.
- Organize stuff – Cleaning and organizing provides distraction and also gives you a sense of control.
- Journaling helps you problem solve, getting you get in touch with your problems and feelings.
- Affirmations leverage your brain’s neuroplasticity by changing maladaptive (“bad”) thoughts with positive cognitions (e.g. “I suck” becomes “I am an intelligent and successful person”) There’s solid science that this stuff works — that’s why I dedicated an entire blog post to how and why affirmations change the brain in which I also provide practical ways to get started.
- Acupuncture – I swear by this healing art for its ability to relieve pain, stress, and promote a general sense of well being. Each treatment builds upon the one previous, and the needles are usually painless. Russell Brown, at POKE Acupuncture in Los Angeles is a truly gifted practitioner who I cannot recommend strongly enough.
- Puppy Love – Your blood pressure drops when you play with a dog. Rescuing a dog also earns you some good karma. Everyone wins.
- Sex – Probably the greatest, most natural stress-buster ever AND you burn calories. Plus, married men live longer. If regular sex is missing, it could be time to address other underlying issues.
- Reading prevents obsession over negative thoughts by distracting your mind.
- Meditation doesn’t have to boring or complicated. I created this 4-minute meditation break which I use while stretching clients post-workout. You can download guided meditation podcasts at Mediation Oasis, a free site, on topics ranging from “Emotional Ease” “Beyond Pain” or easy ones such as: “Mini Break for Work or Study” They also have a $3 meditation app. And try these grounding techniques to promote relaxation and help you stay in the moment.
This article has been made available as an open educational resource by Sam Page under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license. All other content on this page (including links, images, logos), in addition to the content of any pages linked to from this page, are copyright Sam Page unless marked otherwise. If you adapt this resource for your own use please mark it as a derivative work of the original.