Soothing Emotions with the Five Senses   

One of the most effective ways to manage our emotions is to soothe each of the five senses: vision, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Self-soothing is a powerful strategy for helping us feel calm and grounded. Unfortunately, most of us forget to self-soothe or never learned to self-soothe as children. The good news is that we can learn to self-soothe now and it’s never too late to improve our skills.

I encourage you to experiment with different self-soothing techniques. When you find techniques that are helpful, set a goal to practice them each day even if you do not feel anxious. Get in the habit of self-soothing regularly and when strong emotions strike you will feel well-prepared to manage them.

Below you will find ways to soothe each of the five senses. Identify your favorite ways to self-soothe or create your own strategies. Keep your favorite self-soothing techniques on your phone and on your computer. Print out your list on colorful paper and keep it somewhere you can see, such as on your closet door or refrigerator.


VISION: Notice what you see, and find soothing things to look at.

  • Look up at the sky and notice the beautiful colors.
  • Look out the window and watch the grass gently blowing in the breeze, the sun dancing on leaves, the graceful movement of the birds, or the moon and stars in the night sky.
  • Notice the play of light on the walls.
  • Enjoy the richness of colors at your office or home.
  • Go to a beautiful place or sit in your backyard to enjoy everything you see.

HEARING: Pay attention to what you can hear around you. 

  • Listen to beautiful or soothing music, or to invigorating and exciting music.
  • Pay attention to nature sounds (waves, birds, rainfall, leaves rustling) or listen to sounds of nature on your computer or phone.
  • Sing to your favorite songs or hum a soothing tune.
  • Learn to play an instrument.
  • Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, letting them go in one ear and out the other.
  • Quietly notice the sounds of your own breath.

TOUCH: Find comfort in touch. 

  • Take a hot bath.
  • Soak your feet.
  • Put a cold compress on your forehead, or a heating pad on your back.
  • Place your hand on a smooth, cool surface.
  • Enjoy the feeling of a favorite piece of clothing.
  • Savor the feeling of crisp, clean sheets on the bed.
  • Notice the comforting warmth of clothing that is fresh from the dryer.

SMELL: Be aware of the memories that smell can bring. 

  • Purchase your favorite soap and shampoo, and notice the scent when you shower or bathe.
  • Try to find brands of lotion that have a soothing smell.
  • Enjoy the smell of your food or when you cook or bake. See if you can smell each type of food individually.
  • Savor the smell of popcorn and remember other times in your life when you have enjoyed popcorn.
  • Smell essential oils such as lavender or peppermint oil, or burn incense and breath in the scent to shift your attention.
  • Purchase fresh flowers or add fragrant flowers to your garden.

TASTE: Carefully savor flavors of food or drinks; eat one thing mindfully. 

  • Eat a healthy meal.
  • Enjoy your dessert.
  • Have a favorite soothing drink such as herbal tea or hot chocolate.
  • Treat yourself to a favorite snack.
  • Enjoy a piece of candy or chew your favorite gum.

Below is a comprehensive checklist of self-soothing activities. 

Contact Me: If you need help managing anxiety, please contact me through my website.

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