How To: Create a DIY Anxiety Relief Tool Kit
For those who struggle with anxiety the creation of a personalized Anxiety Relief Tool Kit can make a world of a difference. These kits place relief at your finger tips wherever you may be.
When put together in a thoughtful way, they have the ability to help a person stay in control of their anxious symptoms. Your kit can be a small bag that you keep in your purse, or backpack. It can also be a box. Really, it can be whatever you want it to be. The point is to keep all of the parts together in an easily accessible space.
You can make multiple versions of your Anxiety Relief Tool Kit and keep them in special places like your desk at work, your car, or anywhere else you frequent.
Everyone can have an toolkit including children. Helping a child to put together a toolkit that they can use at home, in school, or in any other setting that causes them anxiety can be a powerful way to empower them to cope with their anxiety.
In order to make your Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit, you will need to make sure you have something to engage each of your senses.
Something for your hands and body
Rubik's cubes are great for this! They engage your mind and hands in an activity that undoubtedly will divert your anxious energy.
Fidget toys such as this ingenious cube consolidate multiple fidget worthy activities into one item. Roll a ball. Click some buttons. Rotate a joy stick. It is so awesome because it is small and discrete. As a result, it allows the user the ability to fidget and take out their anxious energy in almost any setting.
In addition, stress balls, pipe cleaners, and Play Doh can all be great anxiety relief tools.
Anything with texture such as a soft towel or blanket are nice to hold on to and rub between your hands or fingers. Depending on how big your particular tool kit is, you may need to cut whatever material you choose down to an appropriate size.
Something to Smell
Engaging your sense of smell can be so helpful! Smells, especially ones that remind us of pleasant memories are known to help calm anxiety.
Quick mindfulness exercise: Think back to a time when you felt really serene and calm. Where are you? What do you see? Most importantly for this exercise: what are you smelling? If possible, try to pinpoint that smell. Describe it. Then, brainstorm ways capture it and have it in your tool kit.
If you can't pinpoint a smell. Or, if the smell you remember is impossible to recreate try some of these:
Many scents can be found in the form of oils, soaps, lotions, and of course in other organic states. I'm a big fan of lotions and oils in particular because they engage more than one sense if you decide to put some on.
For scents that come in more organic forms like flowers, loose powders, or spices, you may need to find vials or jars to keep them in.
Something to Listen to
Most of us carry around our phones. Having a specific playlist that you create with songs that you know help to calm you down is a powerful way to get rid of anxiety. Music heals and has the power to take us away while keeping us present. So, in your tool kit you may want to make sure you have headphones for when the occasion arises.
This playlist was compiled by a woman who experiences anxiety on a consistent basis. I found it to be extremely calming.
Something(s) to See
Any visual representations of things that make you feel calm are great antidotes to anxiety. If looking at pictures of particular family members is what keeps you calm then have those handy!
For some it may be that looking at serene landscapes in nature takes you to your calm place. Maybe it is a photo of you or someone else engaging in an activity you that you know takes you to your calm place. Rock climbing? Yoga? Swimming? Gardening?
Using an online photo service is a cheap and convenient way to get pictures of any kind printed. Mpix is one that I've used pretty often with satisfaction.
Of course, your camera roll may be your go-to.
Other examples of visual calming aids are:
Pictures of your favorite art pieces.
Coloring books and coloring tools (pencils, crayons, markers etc.). Engage your visuals while partaking in the therapeutic activity of coloring. Adult coloring books like this one are awesome for those of us that feel swearing can be appropriately cathartic.
Any object that you enjoy looking at such as:
Seashells (can also engage your feeling senses).
Uniquely colored rocks. (Smooth or textured can also engage your feeling senses)
A mirror :)
Something to Taste
Eating to relieve anxiety can be a slippery slope for some. However, there are some foods that are known to have calming effects on people. The following can easily be slipped into your Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit and stored for longer periods of time.
Chocolate-specifically pure dark chocolate has been known to lower the levels of the hormone cortisol which is linked to stress and anxiety.
Almonds- contain zinc which is essential in balancing mood. Furthermore, almonds have iron which could help to keep your brain energized and less susceptible to anxious energy.
Other foods that you may want to consider taking with you as you leave your house are:
Oranges- Hello Vitamin C!
Blueberries- Considered to be a Superfood. They have antioxidants (among many other things) that help to combat anxiety.
Peaches- Have nutrients with calming effects.
Whole Grains- Pasta or Bread anyone? We've all been there after a big meal with some complex carbs. We feel slower in our minds and our bodies. A great antidote for anxiety-though you may want to incorporate exercise if you plan on using this one a lot!
Some other things you might want to consider putting into your Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit are:
Favorite books. I especially like ones with positive quotes or thoughts. I recommend this one.
Chapstick or lip balm. If it smells and feels good to put on, you are certainly engaging more than one sense at a time. Thumbs up to that!
A journal or a small notebook to get those anxious thoughts out of your head. Writing them down can be super helpful. Sometimes this act alone can show you just how irrational your thoughts are. Maybe you read them back to yourself and laugh at how ridiculous you can be! :)
Lastly, and quite possibly my favorite, I suggest adding your own voice to your tool kit. Do you know what you worry about? Maybe when you are in a good space, perhaps after a yoga or meditation session (shameless plug for my favorite anxiety "medicines"), you can write down phrases to help calm you down. You can dedicate a journal page (or a few) to this activity. Or- write on strips of paper, fold them, and place them in a small box or Ziploc bag. (This version allows there to be a bit of mindfulness activity when you go to unfold and read them.) Either way you do it- just know that there is nothing like disproving your own thoughts to combat anxiety.
Some Examples of what you can say to yourself:
Hey, Danny isn't ignoring you- he is probably just busy right now.
I'm doing great at work. Why am I worried? Also, just last week, my boss said I'm really impressing everyone!
I'm not a failure. I've accomplished so many things in my life. I'm only worried because I want great things for myself. I don't need to worry to be great.
I'm okay. You're OKAY.
This feeling is not permanent. It will pass.
Take ten deep breaths.
Stay Present. Notice what:
you see right now
can you hear right now
do you smell right now
can you feel on your body right now
It always helps when you_______ .
I am in control.
Compiling your Anxiety Relief Tool Kit should be fun! Because it is literally all about you. Also, it helps you to bring to the forefront of your mind things that help you feel better. Not only that, you'll feel more in control. After all, who doesn't like to feel calm and relaxed? Anxiety doesn't stand a chance when your Kit is stockpiled with your best kept secrets!
One last Tip!: Using more than one tool from your tool kit at a time can help if you are feeling very anxious. So, if you are in a place where it is possible to pull multiple things out, do it! For example, you may want to put your headphones on and listen to some music, then put some great smelling lotion on your hands, and play with a fidget toy. Although if you are only feeling a little anxious, perhaps being mindful as you put on some tingly delicious smelling Chapstick is all that you need.
Pinnacle Co-Founder Dahyana P. Schlosser, M.Ed. is a Child and Family Therapist and tireless advocate for Children's Mental Health. Her passion for helping others serves at the core of her perspective on problems and innovative solutions.