Touching activates the care system and the parasympathetic nervous system to help you calm down and feel safe. That is why physical self‑soothing is a simple and effective way to comfort yourself in times of high anxiety or distress.

Place one or two hands over your heart. Breathe deeply while placing your attention on the rising and falling of your chest, the warmth and gentle pressure of your hands on your body, and the feeling that this practice offers.

If placing your hand over your heart feels uncomfortable, try some of the following alternatives.

  1. Cradling your face in your hands.
  2. Crossing your arms and giving yourself a hug or gentle squeeze.
  3. Holding one hand on your abdomen, the other placed over your heart.

This exercise is a great way of calming young people when they feel overwhelmed, or when preparing for the day’s work.