What is a self-soothing box essentials? It’s a collection of items that help you get grounded when things get tough mentally or when you’re overwhelmed.
Indeed, in social work, things can get challenging mentally. That is why a self-soothing box is a must have.
You can choose to carry these items in a purse or backpack, but a box to keep at home is the best choice.
You can find how to use mental health worksheets and tools HERE.
Ultimate Self-Soothing Box Essentials
You can decide to put whatever you want in your box, but there are a few items that might help you get through a panic attack or just a busy, overwhelming day; these items are universal and never fail to work.
First, though, you have to build your self-soothing box.
How to build your self-soothing box
Find a box around the house; it could be any size, but the bigger, the more items you can fit.
Once you have found it, you can first paint in white if you plan to draw on it or cover it with some gift-wrapping paper. It’s entirely up to you, be creative, and make it yours. It doesn’t have to look like the other self-soothing boxes you see on the internet. You can never go wrong when designing your box.
What should you put in yourself-soothing box?
The items you decide to put in your box should be centered around your five senses; meaning that you should include something you can smell, touch, look, hear, and taste.
Having objects that shift your attention from the outside world to your inner world–if you smell something, you might recall a memory, for example–and this might help you feel less overwhelmed and stressed.
If you’re going on holiday, you can still bring a self-soothing box with you, especially if you find traveling stressful.
Items you should put in your box:
1. Water bottle
Mostly when you’re feeling anxious, it’s your body telling you that you’re dehydrated. Before you do anything, drink water and notice the changes in your body.
2. A snack
Have you eaten anything all day? Are you in starving mode? If you skipped meals because of your busy life or other reasons, you might be feeling overwhelmed.
Your blood sugar levels dropped, and your body uses all the energy it could find to keep you alive. Imagine driving a car without putting fuel in it. Would it be possible?
So, if specific sounds trigger you, putting your headphones on could help you temporarily get away from the situation. Noise-canceling headphones are also recommended.
4. Positive affirmation cards
It is essential to keep positive affirmation cards in your box; sometimes, the voice inside your head might tell you things that aren’t true, and reading a positive affirmation can make the voice go away.
5. A journal
If reading those positive quotes doesn’t help you, you can write down your feelings and worries.
Usually, putting into words your senses through a way or another–spoken or written words–can ease the anxiety you’re feeling.
6. Your favorite book
Put a book you loved reading or that you know it’s going to help you feel better. Highlight the parts you enjoy the most and read them when you need them the most. Get lost in another world.
7. Colouring book
You can put an adult colouring book or a child one; I’d rather have a children colouring book because the designs are easier to fill in, and it’s more satisfying to see all the drawings coloured, but it’s down to how you want it.
The benefit of colouring is that it makes you stop thinking about what’s currently happening; your attention shifts, and you find yourself being busy colouring a bun’s ear.
8. Nice fuzzy socks
Hear me out. You can be an adult at any age, but some nice fuzzy socks when you’re feeling cold and sad are the best thing ever. If it’s summer, you can replace them with something else, but if the weather outside is cold, putting on some fuzzy socks can solve most of your problems.
9. A fidget toy
You can choose any toy, as long as it keeps you busy. It can be a Rubik’s cube, a fidget spinner, anything. Something that keeps you busy enough to stop you thinking.
10. Staedtler pens
If you have a coloring book and a journal, some Staedtler pens are essential. Who wouldn’t want some nice pens in their box?
I would put this in my box; you can take inspiration from mine or make your own. Choose items you know will help you get through an unpleasant episode. Take your time to decorate your box; if you personalize it, you’ll be more likely to reach for it when in need.
When should you start self-soothing?
Self-soothing is such an impulsive thing; we have self-soothing behaviors by the time we are three months old. Yes, you read that right. Babies self-soothe, and no one taught them how. As adults, we self-soothe without realizing it.
Think about that time you were in a stressful situation, and you wrapped your arms around yourself as if you were receiving a hug; or when someone started yelling at you, and you caressed your hand with your other hand.
All these behaviors are self-soothing techniques we unconsciously do. They are unintentional; we taught them to ourselves when we were babies, and they stuck with us.
You can use other techniques that are more efficient than those I talked about because they’re intentional and focus on different emotions.
List of self-soothing techniques
A list of self-soothing techniques that you could use but are not socially acceptable if an adult does them are:
- – Thumb sucking
- – Nail-biting
- – Foot tapping
- – Leg shaking
There are useful self-soothing techniques that are socially acceptable if anyone does them; here are a few:
- – Going somewhere to get a massage
- – Drinking a hot cup of tea or chocolate
- – Aromatherapy with essential oils
- – Taking a warm bath
- – Listening to your favorite songs
- – Watching your favorite movie
These self-soothing techniques must involve all the five senses; sucking on a piece of candy or chewing gum is similar to sucking your thumb or biting your nails, so in a way, we are back to doing what we used to do when we were babies.
As adults, though, we learn some bad soothing techniques. What do adults do that reminds them of sucking on their thumb?
They smoke cigarettes. Some other unhealthy techniques include eating too little or too much, drug use, gambling, spending too much money, not sleeping enough, overworking, drinking too much coffee, etc.
Can you learn to build some healthy techniques?
Building healthy techniques is possible, but it takes time and effort. You should know what is causing you to feel anxious or stressed, then slowly learn to recognise a poor technique from a good one.
Once you know what’s right for you and what’s wrong, you can start building your set of skills that will be required when you’re in a stressful situation.
Before you go
Be aware of what triggers you and be open to the idea of new self-soothing techniques you’ve never heard of.
Experiment with new techniques and remember that just because one doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that none does.
Finally, track your progress to keep the motivation up and improve your skills!
Ultimate Self-Soothing Box Essentials
- Water bottle
- A snack
- Positive affirmation cards
- A journal
- A favourite book
- Colouring book
- A fidget toy
- Staedtler pens
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