There are times when we all feel panic, sadness or perhaps crippling anxiety. It can be tough to find a way through these feelings, when you’re in the moment. That is why creating a Box of Calm is a fantastic idea.
Step 1 – What is a Box of Calm
First of all, you don’t need a box! It could be that you chose a bag, use pockets or even just have the items on the side somewhere.
A Box of Calm is a collection of items that you curate for yourself. Each of them benefiting you in a different way and presenting an avenue to a calmer mind and body in time of crisis. Your ‘box’ will have items that represent the five senses – sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. They help your mind to create a distraction, a focus which allows your body to lower the heart rate, and your mind to calm those racing thoughts.
The items inside your ‘box’ will help reduce your anxiety, increase your mindfulness, reduce your stress and help you to better regulate your emotions. So, how do you do it?
Step 2 – Touch
For this you need to find something tactile, an item that you just like to feel. It might be a smooth stone, a fluffy scarf, a fidget toy, it can be anything.
Touch is distracting for the brain, the sensation of what you can feel, coupled with any movement helps to drive that focus away from your distress. This is why fidget toys are so incredibly effective for children.
I have a smooth stone that has thumb shaped dint in it, I can move my thumb over it seamlessly. I feel calm thinking about how it feels!
Step 3 – Smell
Smell is an incredible tool to utilise when it comes to feelings of anxiety and panic. The brain has a visceral connection to smell, have you ever suddenly been transported to your childhood after smelling something? The brain has strong connections when it comes to smell and memory. So, it stands to reason that using smell can be immensely powerful in helping ease those thoughts and feelings.
With the above in mind, you want to pick something that has a smell you enjoy, or one that brings with it happy memories. It can be a perfume, essential oil, an old leather wallet, anything that gives you that positive, happy connection.
I chose a solid perfume that I made, it has a combination of oils that have an earthy sweet citrus scent that I find extremely calming.
Step 4 – Taste
Taste can be a snap back to reality, depending on what it is, likewise it can send you into a daydream. We have up to 4000 taste buds, making it understandable why tasting something can help your mind refocus.
You can go two ways with taste, pick an item you enjoy or one that jars you. The benefit of the latter is that it’s quick and more effective.
I have super sour sweets, I don’t mind sour but these are ones that make you pull that face. Like a two year old sucking a lemon for the first time. If I take one when I am distressed or panicked, I have no choice but to focus on the sensation I am experiencing. My brain has no room for the anxiety or panic, just the extreme sour taste that’s gotten a hold of me.
Step 5 – Sight
Visual stimulation can also interrupt those negative, harmful thoughts and help bring your brain back to a state of calm.
Choose something to look at, a photo of loved ones, a postcard of something funny or images of cute fluffy animals. It could even be a book or poem that you find comfort in, a piece of art, anything that engages you.
I have a photo of my mum and little one, as well as a book that is my go to comfort read.
Step 6 – Sound
Sound can disconnect you from the word and fill your mind with distraction. This is possibly my favourite way to manage panic and upset. Check out our article about the benefits of music to find out why it can be so helpful when you feel low.
When I am overwhelmed I put on my headphones, crank up the volume and listen to my panic playlist. Sometimes this is uplifting, happy songs that I can dance to and feel the positive vibes from. Other times it will be songs that can help me vent.
Create a playlist, or like me two, whilst they won’t be in your ‘box’ they are on your phone and easily accessible. Pop some headphones in your Box of Calm, so they’re ready when you need them.