A Coping Box for Self-Soothing

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5913616222_4280f4f164_nI recently heard the idea of a “coping box” as a way to self-soothe during times of high-intensity emotions. The coping box is a collection of items gathered in one spot, such as a box or basket, that can be used for comfort and self-care during distress. This could have helped me a lot while I was struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety. So I thought I’d share the idea, in case you’d like to try it. Think of it as a gift to yourself to be opened in a time of need, and get creative with it!

What should go into your coping box? Think of the five senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Which of those do you find yourself turning to for self-soothing, maybe without even realizing it? Do you enjoy sweets when you’re stressed? If so, maybe include some dark chocolate in your coping box. Does music calm you when you’re upset? So put some music in there! Do you love to wrap yourself in a favorite sweater or blanket when you’re sad? If so, include some lotion or a soft scarf or even some Play-Doh or a stress ball in your coping box.

I also love the idea of writing yourself a letter for a rainy day and placing it in the box to be read later. If you’re not up for writing your own letter, why not print out one of these Mother’s Day Rally letters?

The important thing to remember is that the coping box won’t work if it remains stashed under your bed, out of sight. Consider decorating a box or choosing a pretty basket and placing it in a location where it will be visible to you.

My coping box would include my favorite comfort items, such as essential oils and aromatherapy, some Rescue Remedy, a book of poems. It would also include items I cherish, such as photos of my son, a bottle of bubble bath, some pretty nailpolish, a candle, a mix CD of my favorite songs, some decadent hand lotion, a coloring book and crayons, some hand-written quotes I love, herbal tea, and candy.

 What would your coping box contain, and why? Do you think you would turn to it during times of stress, sadness, or anxiety?

Photo credit: Poppy Thomas-Hill

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About Jaime Harker

A mom to one, I began blogging as a tool to recover from postpartum depression and anxiety in September 2010. Through writing about my experiences with PPD/PPA, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and working outside the home, I healed (along with therapy & lots of self-care!). I still write about those things, but from the perspective of someone who crawled out of the mud, into the sunshine.

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Comments

  1. These are such great ideas. Thank you for sharing.

  2. story3girl says:

    I love this! I should (ahem) make one.

  3. I love this. Going to pass it on to my counselor! And I’m going to make myself one.

  4. Thank you Jamie, great idea.

  5. I LOVE this idea! I think I would include a cherished photograph or two, and an uplifting letter from a friend.

  6. Very cool idea! I would mostly just want my box to have some anxiety meds or maybe some weed. ;) Nah, but I also love the idea of materials to color – That is so calming for me too. Maybe a notebook and colorful pens because writing is more calming for me than reading. And definitely some scents. I have some great anti-anxiety blends by Kristen Peters (you can Google her if you’re interested) that I originally planned to use during labor. Also, nostalgic things seem to calm me down a lot, be they photos or songs from my past. I think part of it is the distraction from my current life, and it’s also comforting to remember difficult times from the past and know I got through those.

    Did you come up with this on your own or hear the idea somewhere? I really love it. New moms who are prone to anxiety/depression might set up one of these boxes while putting together a breastfeeding basket.

    • Janine, I heard about it in the 12-week balance skills workshop I took earlier this year. We focused on mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance (if I remember all 4 correctly). I liked the idea so much I just had to share it!

  7. Jessica @EatSleepBe says:

    Terrific ideas, Jaime. I think mine would include some weights and a quote book that I’ve had since I was a little girl.

  8. I love this idea… and I’ve been meaning to try essential oils. Which ones do you like for stress?

    • I have a plug-in diffuser I use nightly with lavender oil. It helps soothe me to sleep. But in my purse, which I guess is my version of a travel coping box, I keep a roller ball of Young Living “Tranquil.” And on my keychain, I have Origins Sensory Therapy Peace of Mind. Sometimes I also like to use a hand lotion infused with lavender. Thanks for your comment!

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