One of favourite things to suggest to client, especially for dealing with bad days are Self-Soothing Kits. These are good when you’re feeling down and need a pick me up, when you have an urge to binge or purge with eating disorders, or have urges to self-harm. When we are feeling down, or low, that is not the time we tend to think to ourselves, “you know what would really make me feel better? Painting my nails, or calling a friend.” When we’re feeling low, we either want to just curl up in bed and ignore the world, or we want something that is instant and gratifying. We tend to turn to what we know, or use most often. If we’re suffering from mental health problems at the moment, usually that quick choice is not a healthy one. So, for those bad days, I bring you “How to build your own Self-Soothing Kit.” These can also be made as “safety kits” for people who are trying to avoid self-harming, sobriety kits for people who are trying to avoid giving into urges to drink or use drugs.
Important tips to keep in mind
There are a few things to keep in mind when building your self-soothing kit. It should be placed somewhere that you have easy access to, and should be stored in something portable, whether it’s a shoe box or a basket. Your self-soothing kit should also include things that allow you to use all 5 senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Also, this is a kit to be made especially for you, so it should only include things that will make you feel better. Allows this to be a time for you to be creative, and really get in touch with yourself. Think about the things you really enjoy. Once your kit is made, you can always add to it later, or change it with time. You might find that there are some things that make you feel better in sometimes, and as you get older you start preferring other things, and that’s okay!
Here are some examples of some things you could include in your kit. These are just some ideas to get your creation going.
- A rock, or gem that you enjoy looking at
- Decorated stationary for writing letters to friends, loved ones, or even yourself. This could also be a decorated journal.
- Photos of your close friends or family members, photos of fond memories or happy moments.
- Inspirational Quotes, see my Happy Thoughts tab for inspiration, feel free to print any of the quotes off for your kit.
- Your favorite book
- Pictures of funny cat or dog memes from the internet, or a written link to that youtube video you can’t stop laughing at when you watch it.
- A fun magazine
- Comic strips
- A Meditation Recording. Check out UCLA’s Mindful Aware Research Center for some free guided meditations.
- Songs that make you feel happy or relaxed
- A variety of herbal teas
- A small piece of your favourite candy or chocolate (note, this should only be one or two pieces. If you suffer from an eating disorder, you might find it easier if no food is included in your self-soothing kit).
- A gift card to a favourite place. So if you have coffee every morning, include a small gift card to your favourite coffee shop to treat yourself to a coffee instead of making it.
- NOTE; taste is not excuse to eat whatever you want or binge on food or alcohol. That is not healthy.
- A favourite rock or gem you can hold in your hand
- Bath salts, oils, or bubble bath to take a bath in (this would also cover smell).
- A small stuffed animal, or soft fabric
- A gel face pack, facial scrub, or lotion
- Stress ball, or squishy toy
- A soft/warm blanket or sweater
- Soft, fuzzy socks
- Heating Pad
- Nail Polish
- Small slinky toy, or other child’s toy that is fun to hold
- A small scented candle (this can also cover sight).
- A stick of cinnamon or your favourite spice.
- Incense of your favourite smells
- Journal for writing
- Favourite Recipes for cooking or baking
- A pet’s toy – either to touch, or remind you to play with your pets if you have one you enjoy playing with. This could also be an extra leash to remind yourself to go on a walk with your dog.
- A colouring book (yes, adults can colour too, and it’s fun!) with fun coloured pens, markers, or crayons. Check out websites like Art Is Fun for free downloadable colouring pages for adults and teens.
- DIY craft project instructions or supplies
- A gift card to your favourite coffee shop
- The phone number of your best friend, to remind you to call them
- A love letter written to yourself.
You’ll likely find that once you get going, you will get excited about making your self soothing kit. What kinds of things would you include in yours? Please post your experiences with, thoughts about, or even photos of your self soothing kit!
Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.