Let’s talk some more about self-soothing as a part of self-care. We all know about taking care of our skin, hair, teeth… you may eat right and exercise. Do you get enough sleep? I know, we all try …how close do you get to the magical 7-8 hour range? You might take care of your outside very nicely, but what do you do for your inside? Specifically self-soothing, a segment of emotional self-care?
I wrote about another part of self-soothing in the blog post “This Latest Sorrow.” That was an emergency bandage (Band-Aid is trademarked, yanno…) to help vulnerable people get through the first few days after the latest gun violence/rampage/massacre. And that’s often the only time when we think about self-care, right after something unthinkable happens.
Unless you belong to a very quiet religious sect, you probably have an overabundance of noise in your life. City sounds are omnipresent, the bigger the city the less time ‘off’ there is. Do you live in the City That Never Sleeps? Well, then neither do your nerves. Even in a rural place, it’s not too hard to hear sounds that are man-made. After 9-11 happened, I remember so well the eerie silence as the planes were grounded, transport was slowed way, way down, and we all weren’t sure what to do—so we kind of hunkered down and waited. Quietly.
Constant low-level noise can be so aggravating, it will get on your last nerve and make you crack. People who suffer from tinnitus hate not being able to get away from the relentless buzzing in their heads. I used to live near train tracks and got so I didn’t consciously hear them, but my body sure registered what I was hearing. Mind, a deeper process of brain, knows what’s up and is not well pleased when we are over stimulated, over tired, overstretched. Nerves (figuratively) *snap.*
What do you do for self-soothing? First of all, you do it intentionally…not just when something horrific happens and you realize how badly overdrawn your serenity account is. If you brush your teeth daily, do you feel it is too much of an effort or sacrifice? Would it be so very different to invest in your own peace of mind? Really? What about taking the same amount of time, two minutes twice a day, minimum, to self-soothe, not as some decadent luxury practice but as a real requirement in our busy, over-inflected aural worlds.
Silence is good. Low music that is beautiful to you and melodic, or possibly something that is tonal and non-repeating…those can block out aggravating noises. Silence in nature would be best of all, just tuning in to the natural sounds of the world, but you might need to actually block out the sounds of neighbors, someone snoring, lawn mowers, trucks, other people, whatever.
I’d like to challenge you to be aware and listening to the transitions of the day.
When I wake too early in the morning to get a teenager to school, or because of one of those weird nights when you are just AWAKE RIGHT NOW at some horrible hour, I’ll pull the screen door over and let the night sounds come through. The hour of the wolf isn’t so awful when you listen to the muted night sounds of birds rustling around, leaves flicking and clicking, soft little peeper frogs, the wind moving over grasses… soon the sun rises and slowly the sound is turned up, but it begins so softly. Quiet twitterings from birds, the sound of sprinklers coming on. It’s so lovely, and so overlooked.
The evening transition is harder, usually, as people are still out & about doing things. Sometimes my husband and I will sit out on the back patio in these giant rocking chairs I got this spring, and creak together while watching the world slide from sundown to twilight to early evening and darkness. Our talking lessens as the night draws in, and I can feel blood pressure lowering as I watch for bats and stars and the last birds banging it home before it’s too late. The stillness grows in me. These are still sounds, but the sounds of nature can level you right out and usher in peace.
Women, we are usually too busy doing for someone else to take the time for ourselves. We’ve gotta stop that. I’ve got to stop that. Do take the time. Tell yourself it’s for someone else’s benefit if you must, but really, it’s for you. Do it for yourself. For you. Just you. Make a habit of it, make a date of it, make a routine of it—for yourself. Your day can include these little islands of sacred, focused, intentional time… if you allow them. This time of intentional quiet attendance to the natural world is an investment in your own peace, and it will spread through your life from still small moments such as these.
Look for bats.