Here’s the deal: since when we’re in a trauma response, it’s nearly impossible to accurately describe what we’re feeling, (what’s hurting, what’s just been triggered, etc) Somatic approaches to getting our needs met allow us to get the help we need without struggling to say why.

Did you know that in nature, primates cross their arms over their chest and tap back and forth on their shoulders to self-soothe? With Monkey Tap you can cross your arms over your chest at your shoulders, or bring them down closer to your elbows (but still crossed). Slowly tap back and forth for as long as feels good. If it’s not comfortable or accessible to cross your arms, you can also place your hands on your knees and tap, tap your feet, or make “OK” signs with your thumb/index finger for the same effect. I never give a specific time for how long to engage in this technique because it’s about getting back in touch with–or getting to know for the first time–your body and nervous system.

Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and breathe out for a count of 8. On the out breath, purse your lips like you’re blowing through a straw. This particular out breath helps stimulate the vagus nerve, which brings your parasympathetic nervous system online. Remember learning about the “rest and digest” system in high school science? That’s the PSNS! It helps the body relax and return to day-to-day, resting functioning. Repeat this breath anywhere between 5-10 times.

Take a good, long look around, making sure you get a wide range of motion (i.e. not just straight ahead). It doesn’t matter where you are (laying in bed, at the office, on the train, at dinner). As you scan the space, notice what items catch your attention and name them, either silently or aloud. (Out loud is best but if you’re in a space where that’s not possible, totally ok!). For instance, on the train: “I see a blue t-shirt… a silver/grey seat… a red pair of shoes… a green flower pattern lunchbox.”

If you are able, settle on one item that really catches your eye and feel into it–the shape, the texture, the color, and anything else that draws you in.

Need help working on self soothing? Therapy can help you learn these skills and establish these practices in your daily life. Reach out here to get help if you need.

Therapy Tips: Sensory and Somatic Self-Soothing

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