Sounds weird, right? Let me explain, and then you can decide!
Over the work-from-home period, I decided to join a group therapy course. We were taught new ways to better handle/cope with our mental health. A lot of the information we were given were things I had already discussed and gone over with my therapist. However, one thing that really stood out to me was a project we were given that required a bit more creativity.
We were assigned a week to create a Self-Soothing Kit, or a Mental Health Toolkit. Basically, this kit would have many of the feel-good things that we turn to in order to improve our mood or things for which we are grateful but often overlook.
Here’s a picture of my Self-Soothe Kit. I’ve used a box that my running shoes came in. I used this not only because it provides a lot of room for my items, but also because running is something that brings me joy, calms me down, and has become an active form of therapy over the past 10 years.
You’ll want to choose a box or a bag to house your self-soothing sensory items. This box or bag can be decorated however you wish, perhaps with inspiring messages or pictures. Don’t forget, this kit should be accessible at all times when you’re at home. Don’t hide it away where you can’t see it. You want to be able to access it when you feel the need. You can also carry little items in a purse or bag while you’re out, such as perfume or gum.
Now for the fun part! You can experiment with what you put in your kit. Find out what’s soothing to you. This may take some time. Certain things in my kit took weeks to figure out, while others were immediate.
Here are some ideas you can consider when choosing what you put in your box or bag!
SOUND: Listening to music, shows, or movies. A phone call. A white noise machine usually does the trick for me, especially when I’m trying to sleep.
SMELL: perfume, snacks, incense, candles, essential oils, an old blanket that has someone’s scent on it, or even a coupon to take yourself out on a solo dinner date.
TASTE: Going off of the last point, you could take yourself on a dinner date here as well! What about a snack or a bag of unpopped popcorn? You can throw some gum in your kit, candies, mints, chocolate, greens powder if you need a reminder to drink something tasty but healthy, or some gummy vitamins! You could even include a note to remind you to look somewhere in your place where you may have stashed a yummy treat.
SIGHT: A voucher to go to a museum, an art gallery, or an event. You could include a note telling you where to go to see the stars at night, and include a set of binoculars. Maybe seeing a photo of a friend or partner would be nice!
TOUCH: A soft blanket. Something that has a cool texture. A massage ball with spikes on it being rolled under your sore feet. A foam roller for your sore joints. A soothing Epsom salt bath can do the trick too (just put the salts in your kit!).
Here’s what you’ll find inside my Self-Soothe Kit:
- A pencil case: I carry a lot of different things in here. Sometimes I’ll put make-up in this case, pencils, pens, craft supplies. It depends on what I feel like doing and where I’m bringing it. I just really love the pencil case because it reminds me how important reading has been for my mental health.
- A bottle of Perfume (+ a homemade perfume): Scents help regulate my mood! Put on something floral or something musky, and the whole outfit and mood can change – not just for you, but for those around you, too!
- A lacrosse ball: Not because I play lacrosse or follow the sport (sorry lacrosse fans!), but because it reminds me to roll out my feet and sore muscles. It’s a nice form of self-massage!
- A rock: This is one of my new additions. On a walk along the water, I saw a bunch of these rocks that used to be bricks. Because they’re by the water, their shape and texture have changed and all the rocks on this beach now look like this!
- Incense: Any kinds of smells are nice, but I particularly love lavender or sage. I don’t burn these often, but when I do, I find it very difficult to not relax.
- Paintbrushes: I have my cheaper paintbrushes in here to remind me that, although I’m not particularly talented at painting, it’s something for me to pick up every once in a while so I can focus on that and only that. It’s one of those activities that force me to stop procrastinating!
- A big scrunchy: Touch is a big one for me! I love textures. This scrunchy is made of silk, so it’s soothing to simply touch it, but also gorgeous to wear!
- A colorful + small pouch/purse: This was a gift from an old client of mine. Inside the purse were over 50 bags of tea! This purse not only reminds me of that wonderful client, but also brings me joy to look at. It’s so colorful, and is nice and compact.
- A face mask: Not the kind that covers your mouth, but the beauty kind! I like to remind myself to take care of my face every once in a while. With Winter coming, my skin will be drier and more dehydrated. Using a face mask several nights a week is not uncommon for me.
- Montreal Visitors Guide: Montreal, Canada is like a second home for me. I go semi-annually so that I can experience a new language, eat different foods, and explore challenging hikes. Every time I think of a poutine, my soul is soothed…
Don’t worry. We’ve got something for you too.
Here’s a sheet you can fill out to remind you of the things you may want to have around when you’re feeling down, blue, or simply need a pick-me-up.
The sheet to the right was created by Carol Lozier and can be filled out by YOU! Make sure you tailor it to your specific needs. Take some time to think about what truly brings you joy or relaxes you when your mood is unstable.
Keep in mind that these senses don’t need to be fulfilled by material things/items. You could simply want to listen to a specific song, watch a specific movie, go for a walk and smell freshly cut grass, give or receive hugs, pet a dog, or eat your favorite kind of dessert.
Don’t limit yourself! Even wild and unlikely things like “meeting your favorite celebrity” can spark your imagination and bring a smile to your face!