As I sit here pondering what to write about, my cat sits on my lap, rubbing his head into my knuckles (making it rather difficult to type). Just moments before this I was feeling tired…of grad school (though I’m very soon done), of the summer heat, of weekends that go by too fast, of offering help to people who aren’t ready to receive it, of my continued struggles to stay out of B.E.D.–tired of a lot of things. Then, suddenly, with a meow and a leap into my lap, I’m feeling giggly, happy, peaceful, and less stressed. It was a wonderful reminder to me of the importance of learning how to self-soothe when emotions become overwhelming.
Dr. Marsha Linehan, who has done a great deal of research and clinical work with people who have difficulty regulating their emotions, describes the importance of being able to “distract and self-soothe” when in a crisis, or just feeling overwhelmed emotionally. While being tired of life may not constitute a crisis, it can be draining and feel overwhelming. Making a list of healthy things that make you feel better–things that soothe you–(and keeping several copies of it in your often-inhabited spaces) can be helpful for many of us, especially those of us who usually turn to food for self-soothing. As I mentioned a few days ago, it’s best if we can actually take the time to feel, rather than feed, our emotions. But if we can’t, we need some other things to turn to. Spending time with my cats is definitely on my self-soothe list.
Think about making your own list of “distract and self-soothe” techniques. For help on how to get started, you might want to check out Dr. Linehan’s suggestions on this website: http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/crisis_survival_video_text.html