3 Tactile Self-Care Techniques to Help Manage Difficult Emotions

September 7, 2021

Most of the popular self-care practices we think of are passive: meditation, taking a bath, zoning out watching Netflix.

But according to psychotherapist and former Royal Ballet dancer Terry Hyde, a more active, tactile approach can feel more natural for dancers. “What you see in rehearsals is a lot of dancers hugging and holding each other,” says Hyde. “Physical touch is very important for healing.” These three touch-based practices might help dancers to manage emotions such as fear, stress and anxiety.

Emotional Freedom Technique

Emotional freedom technique, also known as “tapping,” is a self-help treatment for anxiety and pain, based on the principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. It involves using your fingertips to tap specific meridian points on the body, while focusing on a thought that is causing you stress. “When we’re holding negative energy in our body, it creates physical ailments,” says Hyde. EFT is based on the idea that tapping on meridian points sends a calming signal to the brain, letting it know it’s safe to relax. You can download hundreds of tapping meditations in The Tapping Solution app.

Jin Shin Jyutsu

Jin Shin Jyutsu is a healing art meant to bring balance to the body’s energies, promoting healing and relaxation. It is practiced by placing the hands on “safety energy locks,” or acupressure points, that are believed to correspond with a particular issue, trait or stress, in order to restore energy flow. For example, holding the thumb is used to relieve anxiety. It can be applied as self-help or by a trained professional. Find a practitioner or class at jsjinc.net.

Transformational Touch Technique

Designed by life coach Cynthia Garcia to promote a sense of calm, peace and clarity, the transformational touch technique uses your hands in an attempt to help you relax and calm down. Try it yourself with these steps:

  1. Close your eyes and place your left hand on your right shoulder and your right hand on your left shoulder. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, slide your hands—gently but firmly—down your arms to your elbows. When you reach your elbows, take a deep breath in and as you exhale, gently but firmly squeeze your arms around you. Repeat 5 times.
  2. Place your hands together in front of your chest. Breathe in, and as you exhale, rub your palms together in a circular motion using a pressure that feels comforting. When you inhale, stop the motion and press your hands together. Repeat 5 times.
  3. Place your right hand on the right side of your face and your left hand on the left side of your face, like you’re playing peekaboo with a child. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, slowly and gently slide your hands down your face until your fingertips reach your chin. Repeat 5 times.
  4. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, shake out your arms, starting at your shoulders and moving to your fingertips, to help your body release any tension. Take one last deep breath in and as you exhale, slowly open your eyes and return to the present