The Benefits of Self-Soothing: All 5 Senses Engaged to Soothe Your Mind and Body

Is your goal this year to become self-aware of your emotions and manage them in a healthy and productive way? These tips will help you attain inner peace and balance.

Photo courtesy of Dingzeyu Li.

Life can throw unpredictable curveballs at you at any time, and it’s easy to feel like you’re losing control of your own autonomy. Your mind races, your heart beats faster, and tunnel vision begins to set in. There’s a fear that the worst outcome will happen and it can feel like you’re drowning in this feeling. Things may seem hopeless, but you have one of the greatest resources closer than you think: yourself. 

There are many benefits to soothing the self and its outcomes are great, once you know how to master these techniques. Why is this topic so important? And how can we really use all of our senses to soothe ourselves in times of distress? 

Introduction to self-soothing techniques via your five senses

Our five senses are something many of us are well acquainted with. Seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling are all a part of the human experience. While many people are born with only a few of these senses, if you are able to, it’s crucial to stay connected to your five senses. How exactly can we use our senses to soothe ourselves in times of distress? This article will give you a rough guideline of techniques that involve our five senses, and it will readily become a part of your tool kit, and perhaps your most used and treasured tool. 


Touching is arguably one of the traits that can connect us to the world around us. It’s a part of our everyday life and we usually don’t think twice about it. Perhaps, you’re running your hands through your cat's fur or feeling the softness of your favorite blanket. Take a moment to really think about the feeling of these things. There are so many different ways that you can connect to the sense of touch to ground you back into reality when you’re going through a crisis. 

Reach for your favorite blanket, or pillow, and lay against the softness of a bed or couch. Focus on the way your body molds itself to the fabric and how the blanket lays against your body. How is your pillow cradling your neck and head? What words can you use to describe what you’re touching at this very moment? 

An exercise like this can be vital to grounding your body and mind back to a calm state. In fact, the sense of touch is so important, there were many scientific studies on why it’s essential to the human experience. Harry Harlow was a pioneer when it came to studying the effects of touch. His research was based on the conduct of experiments with monkeys and their mothers. Harlow came to the conclusion that the monkeys who were offered genuine touch from their mother rather than a toy monkey maternal figure, were better off. 

Bundle yourself up in the warmth of your favorite blanket and enjoy and observe the way your mood will begin to change.  Photo courtesy of Talisa Stupak


Food and drink could become a way to ground you back to reality and calm the mind down. If you’re a baker or enjoy cooking, this one may seem more interesting to you. Create a space where you can create an enjoyable meal that reminds you of the good times you had in the past. There are so many benefits to cooking! The amazing taste of your meal is just a plus! Cooking can relieve stress, and create a happier environment for you to flourish in. 

If you’re not a cook or a baker, do not fret! There are so many options that you have to enjoy a delicious meal or treat. You can go to your favorite bakery, grocery store, or restaurant. This will create a space where you can sit and enjoy the food that’s in front of you. And who doesn’t enjoy a little treat once in a while? 

Treat yourself to your favorite indulgence, whether it's a hearty salad or a fudgy brownie. Photo courtesy of Pablo Merchán Montes


What sights have made you feel at peace or calm? Perhaps it was the beach trip you took and the scenery of the waves and palm trees that helped ease your mind. Could it be the way a bookstore has arranged a wall of books? Or perhaps it warms your heart to see your child or partner curled up in a ball taking a nap? 

The easy thing about sight is that it is accessible to most people. If sight is not accessible, descriptions can offer the same sort of solace and calm. We can describe a scenery such as this: there is a small candle on the wooden table by the window. It’s snowing heavily outside, but the world seems to be at a standstill to witness the flakes fall slowly to the ground. There is a steaming hot cup of tea beside the candle and your dog nuzzles its neck against your leg. 

How did that small description make you feel? Writing little descriptions like this one can soothe the self quickly and effectively. 


The sense of sound is also one of the easiest ways to soothe yourself. There are so many sounds that you can use to calm yourself. One of the popular ways to use this sense when self-soothing is listening to music. Your stylistic preferences on music will vary from person to person. For some, it may be a piano ballad and for others, it could be an upbeat bossa nova record. 

Of course, this sense isn’t always one that people can use. Many people who are deaf use their hands to touch and hear the vibrations of music. This is a different way to hear music as well. In fact, there are many studies that show that music is important for children who are hard of hearing or deaf. 

Listening to music can cause joy within a household as well.Photo courtesy of Victrola Record Players


The last sense we will be discussing is the sense of smell. Many of us took this for granted during the Covid-19 outbreak, where it was reported that many people had lost their sense of smell and taste. As a society, we recognized the importance of being able to share this sense with the rest of society. Certain smells can bring us back to so many different points in our lives. 

The best example to give is the way a coffee shop smells. There is not only the smell of fresh ground coffee, but of muffins, teas, and other treats. The smell creates a perfect pairing with the surrounding environment. Light your favorite candle, or maybe you enjoy the smell of fresh laundry so you like to fold the sheets right after they tumbled in the dryer. The amazing part of smell is that almost everyone can participate! 

Lighting incense can create a comforting mood. Photo courtesy of M From Far Away

 Benefits of self-soothing

Self-soothing skills and techniques are absolutely essential for a healthy mental state. It’s a great habit to practice when you’re feeling overwhelmed. The process of self-soothing can be as simple or as intricate as you want, and that’s the beauty of this technique. It’s so adaptable to everyone who wants to use it. There really is no right or wrong. 

Self-soothing can free oneself from co-dependency on other people and create trust within yourself. Being able to create your own peace is worth it in the end, and is a much less tedious process than relying on others to create a safe place for you. Once you are able to create a safe place within yourself, dealing with life's unpredictable forces can seem just a little easier. This will boost your confidence and it could possibly limit the number of times you become overwhelmed or stressed. 

What have been some of the techniques that stood out to you the most? Which has helped you the most and are there other techniques you added to your tool kit by learning about using all five senses? Remind yourself that you are one of the greatest tools you have, trust yourself and your ability to create a safe haven within yourself.

Brandee Robles
Learn More >>
Make a Difference

Become a Music Therapist with Incadence

Incadence is transforming the health care industry. By joining our team, you can be a part of this revolution and a leader in health care.

Contact Us