I have a self-soothing kit. Actually, I have two. One lives in the house and one lives in the car.
What’s a self-soothing kit? Why do I have one? And what goes in one?
A self-soothing kit is used for distress tolerance. More jargon, right?
Distress tolerance is your ability to tolerate the frustrations in your life without engaging in behavior that could be destructive – whether that behavior is destructive to yourself or to someone else.
There are many ways to modulate your frustrations. Napping is one of them. In this study, nappers who took a 60-minute nap were less impulsive. I’m a napper. Like an everyday napper. Don’t take away my naps. Like really. Don’t do it.
Observing your breathing is another distress tolerance skill. There are many different breathing exercises. The one that I first learned from my therapist is called four-square. Breathe in for a count of four…hold for a count of four…breathe out for a count of four…hold for a count of four. Repeat. Another therapist recommended seven-eleven. Breathe in for a count of seven and exhale for a count of eleven. There are many others. Find the one that works for you and practice when you’re not in distress so that when you are in distress it comes naturally. When I start having a panic attack, I find that I’m automatically going into four-square breathing. And, sometimes, the panic attack is triggered because I was holding my breath.
WHAT IS A SELF-SOOTHING KIT?
A self-soothing kit is just what it sounds like. It’s a kit that has items in it that will soothe you when you’re having a hard time, having an all-around bad day, or dealing with a lot of stress. The purpose of a self-soothing kit is to provide you with comfort and encouragement, to help you get grounded and stay grounded, and to distract you from the current problems or from the things that are causing you distress.
Ideally, a self-soothing kit will have at least one item from each of the 5 senses. Here's an example of each:
Sight – a photo
Sound – music
Smell – essential oil
Touch – worry stone
Taste – sour candy
You can make a portable kit to keep in your car – use a small backpack, bag, plastic container, etc., and place it in your trunk or glove box. You can also make a kit and place in a small bag to place in your purse. You can create a larger kit for your home – use a box, a cedar chest, a larger storage container, etc. Place it where it’s easily accessible.
The self-soothing kit is great for adults and children alike, but it’s often hard to think of what to place in the kit. So, be sure to download the PDF of 65+ ideas to place in your kit.
A coloring book from Color Joy is a great way to distract yourself and perfect for a self-soothing kit!
Make sure that the things you put in your kit are effective. So, for example, chocolate is on the list. If you know you always overeat chocolate – you probably don’t want to put it in the kit because it will cause additional problems.