Young teen with blue hair listening to music and smiling.

Teaching Teens How to Self Soothe

When life gets challenging, and anxiety sets in, teens need someone to lean on. But when they don’t feel comfortable sharing, or when no-one can help them when they need it most, they can benefit from learning how to become their own best friend. And as they mature, it can be crucial for teens to learn how to process difficult emotions productively and reinvent a tough situation for the better. When teens learn how to self soothe, they are more able to make their minds and bodies feel more secure, relaxed, and comforted. Just like giving themselves a big hug! So, keep reading for teen mental health resources from our TLC facilitators on how to self-soothe.

Listen to Music

Teens listen to music to hype themselves up, create a distraction, and deepen their emotions. But it can also be an excellent way to self soothe. Putting on a nostalgic song that reminds them of happy, calming memories, or unwinding with a classic can work wonders to center a wonky mindset. So, encourage your teen to find their zen with headphones in or crank up the volume on their best speaker. For the teen musician, they can feel free to hum, lip sync, belt it out, or jam on their favorite instruments to get to a better place emotionally. Offer to help them pick or create an uplifting playlist, or suggest they opt for the calming nature sounds that bring them mentally to another place where they feel safe and secure. 

Write it Down

Journaling can be a powerful tool for teens to learn how to self soothe, help themselves work through challenges, and get clarity on difficult situations. Rather than letting their minds go a mile-a-minute, writing things down can slow down the thought process and make it more intentional, relaxed, and rational. So, remind your teen to get out a pen and paper, slow down, be more present and cognizant to find a new sense of calm when they are feeling out of sorts. If they’re an artist, encourage them to feel free to add doodles that help them bring more color, character, and emphasis to their thoughts. 

Get Fresh Air

When emotions are running wild and relaxation seems increasingly less achievable, getting a change of place can disrupt the flow of negativity. Going outside, beyond the four walls, to absorb a new scenery can change the course of a teen’s entire day. It takes them out of their current state, pushing them to see the world in a new way. The fresh air’s naturally calming and relaxing properties remind them to breathe deep, reducing anxiety. So if your teen needs to help themselves calm down, encourage them to start by opening a window or walking out a door to practice breathing exercises. As they work up a strength in their calm, they might want to sit outside or even take a walk in nature to soak up maximum self-soothing benefits.

Take a Nap

Sleep is key to mental and physical health. Yet, many, if not most teens, simply do not get as much sleep as they need. Sometimes, when a day is sucking the energy out of teens, they simply do not have the rest they need to get through it positively or productively. When life feels like too much, one of the quickest and easiest ways for teens to learn how to self soothe is by simply allowing themselves to get the rest they need to change their perspective. So, if your teen is feeling overwhelmed or zapped, remind them that taking the time to recharge with a nap can reinvent their entire day. If they find it difficult to sleep during the day, or do not want to switch up their sleep schedule, encourage them to meditate when they need a break and make more time to prepare for sleeping at least a full eight hours at night. 

Eat Healthy Snacks

Just like adequate sleep is essential for mental and physical health, getting the proper nutrition is crucial, and without it, teens tend to break down. Like a car running out of gas, teens can get sluggish, exhausted, and even stop functioning properly. But it doesn’t have to go this far to make a serious impact. When life gets hard, teens might get distracted from prioritizing their health or reach for processed junk foods that leave them feeling undernourished. So, remind your teen that when they are feeling bad, a healthy snack can bring positive energy and perspective. The happiness of consuming a tasty meal that is just as healthy for them as it is delicious — is both a mental and physical win! 

Practice Positive Affirmations

Your teen is amazing! Sometimes they simply forget how strong, smart, talented, kind, and special they truly are. When their confidence is low and they are feeling overwhelmed, teens can learn how to self soothe through practicing positive affirmations. Encourage them to find a way to remind themselves of all the things that make them proud of themselves. Remind them to speak to themselves as they would their best friend: “I am…enough, determined, brave, kind, capable, beautiful.” Listening to their inner voice can allow them to act on their needs productively. Teach them to write it down, repeat it to themselves aloud, and even post reminders around their space where they know they will find it again and again to keep themselves uplifted and reminded how wonderful they are.

At Tilly’s Life Center, we believe that helping teens learn how to self soothe, practice self-care, and expand their social emotional learning skills can be instrumental in building them up to live happier, healthier, more productive lives. Our mission is to provide teen mental health resources that give them the tools they need to be their best selves. To learn more, visit us at