Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care and Self-Soothing

Because many (not all) of us with Borderline Personality Disorder were brought up in invalidating environments, the concept of self-care and the DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skill of “Self-Soothing” may seem foreign or even self-indulgent. But, once learned and practiced these skills can become a wonderful ways to help you feel better.


Basic self-care includes:

  • Eating balanced meals (not skipping meals, eating mostly healthy foods)
  • Getting enough sleep (trying not to sleep too much and being mindful to get enough rest)
  • Taking medications only as prescribed
  • Avoiding illegal substances
  • Keeping therapy and medical appointments
What else would you add to the above list? It is certainly not comprehensive, but it lists some of the basics that come to mind for me.  I understand that when we feel depressed, discouraged, or otherwise unwell, it can be difficult to maintain even basis self-care, let alone go the extra mile to soothe yourself. But, doing so is worth it. If you’re not so sure, there’s no harm in giving it a try. You may find that taking the time to soothe yourself makes all the difference in turning around a terrible day or helping you get through uncomfortable emotions.


The Self-Soothe DBT Skills involve soothing yourself through the five senses, which are:
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch
I subscribe to My Dialectical Life (MDL), a daily email that includes a DBT skill along with suggestions on how to implement it.  The subscription is $10 USD a month, and I believe it is worth every single penny.  Here’s what I received today from MDL.
Image courtesy of Amanda Smith/My Dialectical Life
I often wrap myself up in my favorite fleece blanket on the couch to use the Touch skill in self-soothing. Spending time with my cats, petting them, is also a great way to experience this. This little reminder was a great way to start my day. It also reminded me to check off self-soothing under Distress Tolerance on my Diary Card.
Let’s look at the other senses and how we might soothe through them:
  • Vision – look at beautiful artwork in real life, in books, or online
  • Hearing – listen to comforting music
  • Smell – put on your favorite scented lotion, perfume, or use a scented body wash in the shower
  • Taste – have a piece of hard candy or a treat, like a cupcake or cookie
Some have found it helpful to start a self-soothing kit. You can use a shoe box or some other container that you might like to decorate.  Here’s a link to some ideas on creating a Self-Soothing Kit.
Also, here is a video on child development and self-soothing. It can help us to understand why this skill  is important and how to help yourself (or a child) learn to self-soothe:

What would you put in your kit?  How do you like to self-soothe?  Can you identify one way to soothe for each sense?
Thank you for reading.
More Soon.

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