Calm your Anxiety and Trauma Symptoms Using Compassionate Touch
If you notice yourself feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, you can use this compassionate touch practice to begin to calm your nervous system. It may be that your trauma symptoms were triggered and created a surge of anxiety. This strategy also works if you are feeling other emotions like sadness, guilt or shame. Many of my clients report that this is a helpful and quick way to regulate their emotions.
Bring your awareness or attention to your body. Notice where you are feeling the emotion. Use words to label this experience, e.g. "I notice that I am feeling anxious and I can feel it in my chest". Labelling the experience helps us to begin to create a bit of distance from it.
Now gently place a kind hand on the part of your body where you are feeling the emotion (as long as this feels comfortable, otherwise place your hand on a different part of your body that feels more comfortable).
Take a couple of steady breaths, aiming for a longer outbreath.
Notice the warmth of your hand on your body.
Notice if your hand rises and falls as you breathe.
Now say something kind to yourself. E.g. "It's ok to feel anxious, everyone feels anxious at times" or "Anyone would feel anxious in this situation, I'm doing the best I can".
If you are struggling to think of something kind to say to yourself, think about what you would say to a friend who was having this experience, or try saying "It's ok to feel this way". (When we make space for and validate our emotions, this helps to regulate the emotion.)
Continue to take steady breaths and feel the warm of your hand on your body.
Imagine a kind warmth flowing through your hand into the area of discomfort or tension.
When you are ready to end the practice, release your hand.
Ask yourself "What do I need right now?". E.g. You may need to do something soothing or nourishing, you may need to do some problem-solving, you may need to get up and move around or connect with others.