When no one is available in your moment of need, you can find ways to soothe and comfort yourself.
Comforting others can take many shapes: an embrace, a consoling word, a well-intentioned gift.
When it comes to your personal needs, however, comforting yourself may feel like unfamiliar territory. You may not know how to do it or even feel guilty about focusing on yourself.
But self-comfort is important for emotional well-being and can be implemented easily by developing a few skills. Comforting yourself can help you cope with stressful situations and life challenges.
Practicing self-soothing and comforting techniques can also help you manage stress levels and boost your emotional health.
Comfort implies you aren’t in distress. Your needs have been met, and you aren’t lacking anything vital.
When you need comfort, it’s often when you feel something’s missing. You become uncomfortable because a need isn’t met, and that can result in:
When you regain that something you were missing or you replace it with something else that’s also important, you feel comforted.
For example, you may feel sad and hopeless after losing your job. If a friend comes over to spend some time with you, brings your favorite food, and offers words of advice, you may feel comforted. You didn’t replace the lost job, but attention, care, and love may help you fill in the void, even if temporarily.
When it comes to comforting yourself, you can think of ways to replace or recover what you’re missing.
You can also engage in activities that distract you from your sense of discomfort. This may not solve the situation but can reset your emotional and mental state so you can circle back with a sense of peace and calm.
If you live with a chronic condition like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may want to find a way to be proactive, so you can quickly comfort yourself on those days you need it the most.
Comfort often comes from those around you. The people who support you can help fill in your comfort gaps.
If you’re feeling lonely, they can provide company, for example. If you need a new winter jacket but can’t spare the money, they might be able to lend you one.
Support networks aren’t always available, however. When you need comfort but can’t find it in other people, you can try to soothe yourself with these methods:
1. Consider letting in the fresh air
The spaces around you can contribute to your sense of comfort or lack thereof.
If you’re going through difficult times or are experiencing anxiety, for example, your environment can contribute to this feeling.
Many people around the world also experience sick building syndrome, an ill feeling related to construction issues like poor ventilation, intrusive lighting, and electromagnetic radiation.
You may be able to comfort yourself or prevent additional stress by improving your lighting and air quality. You can let the breeze through an open window or go for a walk in the park.
Being aware of how your environment affects you and finding ways to change it is a great technique to comfort yourself.
2. Try to create a comforting space
Making your home a comfort zone can help encourage your sense of security and peace when you’re having a bad day. It can also help you improve your sense of comfort in general if you’re facing ongoing challenges.
You can maximize the comfort levels of your home by:
- eliminating combustion appliances
- swapping old furniture out for certified low-emission products
- using an air purifier
- adding nature features inside like plants
- choosing soft lighting tones and avoiding areas of high contrast
- adding sound dampening features to compensate for noise pollution
- decorating with themes that bring you joy
- maintaining a sense of order and cleanliness
If you work from home, you may want to designate a separate comforting space. This can be your bathroom, balcony, or even closet. The idea is to pour your attention and intention into a space that makes you feel at peace and comforted whenever you spend time there.
You can also identify places outside of your home that may help you feel comforted. You could visit these places regularly to fuel this feeling or visit them on days you need it most.
Some ideas may include:
- museums and art galleries
- a lake or the beach
- local park
- natural preserve
- bike paths
- animal shelter
- your front or backyard
- a terrace or rooftop
- community gardens
3. Try self-compassion
Self-compassion is the practice of giving yourself the same level of kindness you’d show someone you care for. Self-compassion may start by not putting yourself down. It’s related to self-respect.
To try self-compassion, concept founder Kristin Neff recommends asking yourself what you would do for a dear friend if they were experiencing what you’re experiencing.
If you’d offer kind words, for example, you offer those kind words to yourself.
You can also practice self-compassion through:
- journaling your feelings
- doing something you love that you don’t get to do often
- writing a love letter to yourself
- practicing supportive touch exercises
- engaging in relaxation techniques that calm you down
- not labeling or judging your reactions and feelings
4. Consider the possibilities of mindfulness
When you need to comfort yourself, mindfulness practices may offer a way to re-center your thoughts on the here-and-now and gain perspective on your situation.
You can practice mindfulness by taking moments throughout the day to engage in deep breathing and letting negative thoughts pass without dwelling on them.
Using positive affirmations can also provide you with a sense of comfort on those days you feel unmotivated or hopeless.
5. Try a cathartic method
Catharsis refers to emotional release. It’s when you let it all out.
Bottling up your emotions can have a negative effect over time. But finding a constructive way to express yourself can also be challenging. The idea is that you can release your hurtful emotions without negatively impacting yourself or someone else.
Try to feel your feelings without censoring yourself. If you feel like crying, for example, try to let yourself do that.
Some other ways you can find healing emotional release include:
- listening and singing along to your favorite music
- dancing to your favorite beats
- drawing or painting what comes to your head
6. Consider taking a shower or bath
Showers and baths can be soothing and relaxing, but research from 2011 suggests the act of cleaning yourself may also provide mental comfort.
According to the study authors, physical cleaning can help you process possible feelings of guilt or doubt about a course of action.
When you have a bad day, certain things may feel as though they bring you comfort or release in the moment, but this may not always be the case.
You may want to spend some time identifying behaviors that have made you feel regretful afterward. For example:
- substance and alcohol use
- excessive shopping
- connecting with unkind people
- binge eating
Being aware of those behaviors you tend to regret might help you avoid them and replace them with something that does bring you lasting comfort.
You may not know how to comfort yourself or might feel guilty for taking the time to do so. But self-comfort techniques can help you increase your sense of well-being.
Journaling, creating safe spaces, and finding a cathartic method can all be effective ways to comfort and soothe yourself.
If you feel self-comfort is challenging to you, consider seeking out the help of a mental health professional. They can explore the root cause of your difficulty and help you develop coping skills.