Dr. Mona Potter says that a self-soothe kit is a “cope ahead” method. This kit can be songs you enjoy, books or articles that help you, quotes you love, motivational things such as TED Talks or YouTube videos that inspire you. It can be a hobby that you do. It can be something unique to you completely. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s self-soothe kit.
Your self-soothe kit should do one of two things:
- Provide safety
- Make you happy, comforted or nostalgic for good times
When you are provided safety, you can cope with whatever happens. Instead of catastrophizing, you seek self-compassion. Reframing your negative self-talk with compassionate care for yourself is a game changer. You are suddenly in control and in the moment because your stress diminishes. You are reminded of what makes you happy.
Create a self-soothe playlist. For example, some songs like “Dark Before the Dawn” by Mimi Page. Anything inspiring or uplifting, or the songs can be there to serve you to forget your troubles with some dance music. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t let yourself be sad. Sad music serves its purpose, too. The key is to find what works for you.
What’s a book or a movie you have experienced over and over again that never gets old? Sometimes repetition can be a good thing. It grounds you in safety and security to get lost in a story you have heard so many times.
For nostalgia, look through some old photos of happy times. What were you feeling then? Can you remind yourself of this feeling? That way you know it is possible to be happy again.
A good idea is to stimulate your senses when you go through a self-soothe kit. Here are some ideas:
Visual: Affirmation cards, photos, postcards, art you like
Touch: Lotion, worry stone, fidget toy, nail file
Sound: Playlist for self-soothing, nature sounds, white noise
Taste: A nice treat you like such as chocolate
Smell: Essential oils, candles, room spray
Use these to meditate on something that matters to you. This is how you create meaning in the mundane. You tap into what speaks to you. You focus on the heart. Your fulfillment isn’t from external validation; it’s from your rich inner life which you care for every day.
You can make it however you want. But when you engage the senses, you are also grounding yourself. By being grounded, you become mindful in any mess. You become you again. Not the problem, not the worries, not the stressors. YOU. You are not what happens to you. You are how you react to it. And with a self-soothe kit, you create a safe space for you to reflect on things without being consumed by them.
This aids with anxiety. When you are less anxious, your ability to process things and problem solve is heightened. You are more productive, actually, because you have taken the time to self-soothe. Also, we all need a break. You need a break from day-to-day struggles and strife. This is radical self-care where you focus only on “me time.”
A self-soothe kit will create some sanctuary for you. The good news is that you can indulge yourself anytime. That’s because you are worth it. You are worth taking care of yourself. When you take care of yourself, you can better take care of others around you.
It’s a mental health tune-up. When you take the time to care for yourself, you let go. You actually take a break when you take a break. A lot of times, so many of us are mentally at work when we’re supposed to be on vacation. Well, every day, it’s helpful to take a vacation from your thoughts.
A self-soothe kit is a reminder that you don’t need to worry about everything. You just need to be. If you are still struggling with anxiety or depression, it may be time to seek help.
There is no right way to create a self-soothe kit, as long as you make it totally your own.
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