Self-Soothing Techniques: 8 Ways to Prevent Overwhelm


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Many sensitive people have not learned how to self-soothe if they are upset or when life gets intense. Like many children, perhaps you didn’t have the kind of parents that held you and let you know that everything was going to be okay. If your parents were anxious they also may have transmitted their anxiety to you. Sensitive children can absorb this and may unknowingly carry it around as an adult.

To take charge of your emotions, practice the self-soothing techniques below to prevent getting overloaded by the stress of the world or your internalized stress. Using these strategies from The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People each day will help you stay calm and centered.

1. Use Conscious Breathing
As soon as stress hits, immediately take a few deep, slow breaths. Breathing helps you expel tension so it doesn’t lodge in your body.

2. Engage in Positive Self Talk
Tell yourself, “This is a transient situation. I will find the best way of handing this. Everything will be okay.” Do not let negative, fear-based voices get in the way of consoling yourself with kindness.

3. Develop a witness state
You are larger than fear. You are larger than anxiety. When you notice yourself getting stressed or overwhelmed tell yourself, “I am not this emotion. I can center myself. I can lovingly detach from my state of overwhelm and lovingly witness the feelings I’m experiencing. Realizing you are larger than the feeling, will relax you and offer you a different perspective.

4. You are not responsible for the karma of others
Keep reminding yourself that everyone deserves the dignity of walking their own path. This will help you avoid feeling inappropriately responsible for what others are going through.

5. Visualize
Picture divine white light coming though the crown of your head and darkness flowing out the bottom of your feet. This reduces overwhelm by keeping energy flowing out of your body.

6. Use lavender essential oil
Inhale lavender essential oil or put a few drops midway between your eyebrows to calm yourself.

7. Place you hand over your heart
Just as mothers console their babies by patting their chest, you can put your hand over your heart to calm yourself. The heart area in the mid-chest is the center for unconditional love. When you touch it, love will be activated and start sending blissful biochemicals called endorphins throughout your body.

8. Practice self-compassion
Your thoughts make a difference. Be sweet to yourself—avoid beating yourself up. Remember to show yourself compassion when you’re stressed or emotionally distraught. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones enhances your well-being.

In addition to these techniques, you can play and cuddle with your animals, climb under a cozy comforter and read a book or make yourself some warming tea or soup.  Self-soothing can come from many sources. Find the ones that resonate with you.

Being an empathic, caring person leaves you open to a wide range of feelings. When you sense love and joy, you will experience well-being. However, picking up negative emotions can be agitating. As part of your self-care, you want to keep yourself as calm as possible. Using the techniques which I discussed will help create more equanimity and peace in your life.

Adapted fromThe Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, MD a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.

Judith Orloff, MD is a New York Times bestselling author with the upcoming book The Genius of Empathy: Practical Skills to Heal Yourself, Your Relationships and the World (Foreword by the Dalai Lama). She has also written The Empath’s Survival Guide and Thriving as an Empath, which offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people. She integrates the pearls of conventional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, empathy, energy medicine, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice and online internationally. Her work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA, TEDx U.S. and TEDx Asia. More information about Dr. Orloff’s Empathy Training Programs for businesses, The Empath Survival Guide Online Course and speaking schedule at

Connect with Judith on  FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

5 thoughts on “Self-Soothing Techniques: 8 Ways to Prevent Overwhelm

  1. This has been the most helpful for taking my first steps to acceptance that I am indeed an empath. I’ve always known something was different about me, but pushed it away for years. Thank you for helping me to center and embrace myself. I’m sincerely grateful.

  2. Dr. Judith thanks I’m gonna share this with my tribe of midlife women thriving after what I call a Thunderbolt Experience. Super helpful.

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