The Shower as a Sanctuary: DBT Self-Soothing Skill

One of my favorite Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills is Self-Soothing.  I went from a time in my life when I believed I was totally undeserving of feeling "good" to becoming immersed in this skill, to finding a balance.

It is still my top go-to skill when I am feeling emotionally dysregulated and distressed and there is nothing that I can immediately (or ever) do to solve the particular issue that is troubling me. (For example, I cannot travel back in time and change the past, no matter how desperately I may wish for this or fantasize about it.)

Each night, I take my Self-Soothe shower, and I usually announce it just prior on Twitter. I take this extra step to model for my followers the importance of taking the time to practice this skill, even when there is no crisis or problem. Regular self-care - especially treating ourselves with extra love and pampering, can go a long way to increase our emotional resilience for when times get rough. If we've been depriving ourselves of self-care and self-soothing, we often come up against emotional challenges from a place of feeling depleted, which is a difficult place from which to start.

Also, when we are feeling distressed and dysregulated, it can be very helpful to take some time out and focus on something positive. Will it solve the problem? Of course not -- but it can help slow us down long enough to not make matters worse and to calm our frazzled nerves.

So, each night I go into my Shower Sanctuary. It's nothing fancy, really. My bathroom is actually quite tiny. My tub is small, so I don't often take baths (though baths can be soooo incredibly relaxing!), but I do fill my shower with "potions" that help me to feel better.

With them, I soothe through scent and touch.

Here are some of my absolute favorites that I have on-hand right now (and at most times):

Pure & Basic Scrub and Body Gel

I picked up the Pure & Basic shower gels on a trip to TJ Maxx.  They always have huge sizes of lovely smelling body washes, scrubs, shampoos, etc. for very reasonable prices. I believe these were only $7.99 each, and they are HUGE.  I believe TJ Maxx often gets surplus, high quality products from other stores, so you can almost always find a great deal like this.

This is the scrub. Love the name. The scent is very subtle, and the feeling of the little exfoliating beads is just wonderful.  My skin feels so soft and smooth afterward. I love this step. If you can't find this brand, I tracked down this Coconut Body Scrub from the Body Shop.

This is the body wash. Again, love the name. The smell is tropical, and when I use it on my skin right after the scrub, it glides on beautifully, lathers wonderfully, and fills the whole shower with a beautiful, soothing scent that helps me take a mini mental vacation.

Here's another body wash that I love to use as well.   The smell is much more intense. It's the Gud Orange Petalooza Body Wash, and it smells like Blood Orange and Vanilla.  I don't have a personal photo of it because I recently ran out.  I'll be replacing it this week.  I usually pick  mine up at Target.

Before we move on, I have one more body scrub to mention. It's from Alba Botanica, and it's the Natural Hawaiian Cocktail Body Wash in Lava Flow. This is my absolute FAVORITE body scrub.  It smells so vividly juicy -- as if you're whole bathroom is filled with freshly sliced pineapple.  I usually pick this up at Target as well. 

Next is shampoo. It is also by Alba Bontanica. To go along with my tropical theme, this one is the Drink it Up Coconut Milk variety.  Side note: it makes my hair so silky soft that I no longer need to use conditioner.  As far as it being self-soothing, again, you get an all-natural coconut scent, and the shampoo has a very silky feel as you lather it up and work it into your hair.   It's a very gender-neutral scent. Who doesn't want to smell like they've been out on the beach in Hawaii?  This is another one that you can find at Target.

Next is my shaving cream.  Yes, I've even found something soothing for this part of my shower experience.  I use the Trader Joe's Honey Mango Shave Cream. It doesn't lather up but rather softens your skin and hair for easy shaving. It has a light, gender-neutral scent, and it's made from all vegetarian ingredients. Resist eating it even though it smells yummy!

When it comes to my face wash, I've been addicted to Bare Minerals Purifying Facial Cleanser since I started using it a couple of years ago. It has a very earthly, soil-like scent to it. It's something I find very soothing, and it makes my skin so soft and clear. It also gently takes off my eye makeup, which saves me an extra step when I get out of the shower.

Last but not least is a body milk lotion that my friend Crystal gave me a while back.  It's the John Master's Organic Blood Orange and Vanilla Body Milk. It is absolutely divine.  It is not shy with it's very vivid scent of blood orange and vanilla, and it absorbs wonderfully into the skin, leaving me feeling refreshed, soft, and beautifully scented. I put this on after I step out of the shower, and it's a great wrap-up to my self-soothe shower experience.

I am always on the look-out for new potions to add to me Shower Sanctuary.  Please do comment with what you use or have used in the past that you recommend.  I can't wait to get some new ideas from you!

Do you use the shower as a self-soothe sanctuary? Might you try it this week?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.


  1. I love this post! Even before the term "self-soothe" was part of my vocabulary, I always have treasured long showers and soothing scents as one of the few kindnesses that I always have allowed myself. This is why I still pepper my blog with posts about cooking and skincare. It is so important to create happiness rather than just banishing harmful symptoms.

    1. Absolutely. Every moment that helps us feel a little bit better helps! Thanks for commenting, Caroline. ♥

  2. I love this post and I use some of the same products you do! I love the coconut lime body scrub by Bodycology (Target, I think). I use the Alba Botanica pineapple enzyme mask twice a week, and lie down and breathe slowly and deeply for five minutes while it's on. Also, you can get Alba Botanica products at WAY cheaper than Target. : )

    1. Thank you so much for commenting and for the tip. :)



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