Self Soothing

What You Learn Applies To Real Life

I just came back into my office after helping a driver who got into a car accident to slow his breathing. Focused on helping him feel connected and secure. Back in my office, I sit here amazed at how so much of what I practice really works in the day to day. 

Ever wonder if you were going to use that algebra you learned in real life? Well you'll never wonder that about the mental health techniques you learn.

Those techniques will come in handy in your life at the most random and unexpected of times. It might be years past your therapeutic experience where you learned some tricks of self awareness, self soothing and self care but in a time of need you find yourself pulling those tools from the tool box. Dusting them off and feeling "Hey, wow. I can still do this."

You might have a loved one or a friend of a friend who is going through something. You'll remember what pain, confusion, overwhelm feel like. You'll harness the empathy, non-judgement, active listening skills that you learned to give yourself - now giving it to others.

There will be a car accident in front of your office and you will find yourself gently guiding a person in crisis into slow deep breathes.

It might be purposeful "Let me try this" or automatic "Hey, look at me. I think this is working."

Learning "tricks" for mental health and practicing them often enough so that they become part of your automatic response is a worthwhile investment in your future self and in your loved ones and in random strangers. It will not go to waste. It will only grow. And the ripple effects will show others that they can try too.

You can do more than wish things away or wish them better but actually take concrete steps toward making things better. It's worth it. We're worth it. Invest in you so we can all benefit.

He Has Road Rage But I'm The One Feeling Triggered

Commuting with a loved one who has road rage? 

Understanding the other's point of view is important to gain some perspective and to realize that there is no actual threat - just the other's person's issues coming to surface.

But acknowledging that you are being triggered is your cue to go into labeling the experience ("this is really stressful for me"), showing yourself some compassion (with self talk and caring touch like touching the side of your own face gently), and going into calming-the-body techniques.

Stress breathing technique: inhale for a count of four, hold for count of four, exhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and repeat the cycle as many times as necessary to bring your pulse rate and blood pressure back to normal levels.

Deep, slow breathes. Focusing on the exhale to release the stress. Hmm-ing quietly to yourself. Distract yourself by doing the multiplication tables in your head. When you get out of the car you literally shake it off. Stop by the bathroom for a mini-timeout and acknowledge what you just went through and let it out by shaking your body.

Consider the option of using earphones in the car and listened to peaceful music whenever he enters a rage for more than a minute. Closing your eyes and "getting out of the car" in your mind might make it easier for you. Might be something worth discussing with him as a strategy when you are both calm.

If your partner is ever open to it, he might want to meet with someone to talk about the stress he is experiencing in his life. It's possible that some of it is being expressed on the road and could use a healthier outlet.

[Written by Anat Samid in response to a question about dealing with road raging romantic partner.]