Suddenly your heart starts pounding faster, you sweat profusely, you find it hard to breathe, your hands become numb, you can’t think straight, and your body begins to shiver.
If you’ve ever had a panic attack, this may be all too familiar 😔
A wave of adrenaline courses through your system designed to kickstart your fight or flight response. But with nothing to flee from and no one to fight, you’re stuck in stormy waters waiting for the wave to pass.
And that’s a scary place to be.
Enter: calming kits 😌
Also known as:
- self-soothing survival packs
- anxiety survival bags
- mental health first aid boxes
- crisis coping kits
Whatever name you prefer, a calming kit acts as an anchor, grounding you in the here and now while your system settles.
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What is a calming kit?
A calming kit is a collection of items specially chosen to help calm you down.
There are no limits to what you can choose and there’s a bumper list of suggestions coming up. Usually, calming kits include a range of different sensory tools, to help soothe your nervous system and comfort your mind and body.
Ideally, you want a portable survival pack so you can take it wherever you go. Small make-up bags, or pencil cases, that fit easily in your bag or rucksack, are perfect for calming kits.
Or you could keep a panic box under your bed, or a self-soothing survival kit in your car.
How does self-soothing help?
Calming kits are used primarily to encourage mindfulness. The mental health charity Mind describes mindfulness as:
…noticing what’s happening in the present moment, without judgment.
A quick way to become more mindful is to focus on your senses. Bringing your attention to what you can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste can help manage panic attacks.
A study in 2020 found that mindfulness significantly relieves anxiety symptoms in young people. Putting together calming kits with your children is a beautifully connecting activity, strengthening your relationships and helping you learn more about how you can support them in times of stress.
Studies reveal mindfulness can reduce menopausal symptoms. And for patients with late-stage dementia, the benefits of tactile play and sensory experiences include better moods and a reduction in the need for medication.
What goes in a calming kit?
You can fill your calming kit with whatever sensory tools work for you.
And if you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. With over 45 suggestions for sensory delights to calm and soothe your soul, this list has something for everyone:
- mini spray bottle or spritz
- mini fan
- tiny teddies
- cold packs
- hand warmer
- stress ball
- bean bag
- play putty, dough or blu-tac
- colouring book
- pipe cleaners (you can even make your own super-cute pet)
- Rubiks cube
- pebbles and shells
- wet wipes
- fabric swatches
- bubble wrap
- mini puzzles
- boiled sweets/hard candy
- yogurt bites (be sure to refresh any perishables regularly)
- granola bites
- chewing gum
- mint sweets
- essential oils
- rescue remedy
- hand cream (gives a great tactile hit too)
- aromatherapy roll-ons
- light up toys
- snow globe
- optical prisms
- glitter jars (DIY travel-size instructions here)
- postcards of your favorite views
- photos of loved ones
And For Those Times When You Want To Retreat
- eye mask
- audiobooks or uplifting tunes
Or Work Through Your Thoughts
Or You Need A Little Reminder Of What’s Important
- Reminder cards, pre-printed or make your own, can contain:
Curious to see what others are putting in their self-soothing kits?
Check out these videos:
Wrapping It Up
I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.
Whenever waves of worry, panic, or anxious thoughts threaten to flood your system, a self-soothing survival kit can help keep you afloat.
As you can see, there are so many possibilities. Use this list as a starting point to create the calming kit that works for you.
- Don’t let this whopping list put you off.
Pick one or two items to try and see if they help. You’ve probably got plenty of these around the house already.
- Set aside some time and collect your supplies.
You get to build the calming kit that works for you, and you can always switch it up over time.
- Give your future self the gift of a cute calming bag. You deserve it 😍
Hugs and healing thoughts are headed your way x