As the summer gets hotter and the days get longer, we've experienced anxiety, stress, and fear of the unknown. We are all overwhelmed with emotions, and sometimes a simple nap doesn't do the trick. While searching for ways to pour into myself, my sister mentioned to me that she has a coping box.
A coping box was encouraged by her therapist at the time and it requires you to collect things that mean the most to you and place them in a box. Her kit consisted of shells because she loves the beach, bubbles, and other items that she enjoyed. I immediately went to Google to see what I could find about a coping box for adults that's perfect for my self-care routine.
Here's what I learned:
What Is A Coping Box?
According to psychologist Jennifer Mulder, a coping box is "a shoebox, basket, bag or trunk packed with soothing items that you can turn to when you're having a (really) bad day. The box can contain anything that cheers you up, comforts you, offers relief from physical pain, or prevents a relapse." Creating a coping box is a technique that many child therapists use with children who suffer from anxiety and depression as a means to calm them down in moments of distress. After reading that, my first question was, "Why doesn't this apply to adults?" I've been to therapy for over a year, and my therapist never suggested it. A coping box is to provide motivation, comfort, and the necessary mind shifts that we need to help us cope with our low moments.
How To Create A Coping Box
Jennifer's theory suggests that we can create individual boxes that give us emotional and physical relief that helps find solutions to your problems. Focus on items that spark your five senses (sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell) to help you in those moments of a panic attack or a situation that could cause anxiety.
For Emotional Relief:
- Books & Movies: This would be a perfect time to binge-watch your favorite movie or show through a streaming service.
- Music: Whether it's Megan Thee Stallion challenging how sturdy your knees are or the sweet sounds of Luke James, music has been known to change a mood.
- Something Soft To The Touch: Choose a stress ball, favorite blanket, favorite stuffed animal or a piece of fabric from the craft store.
- Journal: There's nothing like one long run-on sentence describing how you feel and having everything on paper so that you can reference them later.
- Photos: We don't know how long outside will be closed, but now we can all reminisce on the past. Old brunch photos or family photos will do the trick to put a smile on your face.
- Words That Mean Something: Recite your favorite quotes, affirmations, psalms, or favorite music lyric to shift your thought process.
For Physical Pain & Discomfort:
- Natural oils, butter, and creams to alleviate the everyday aches and pains that we can experience
- Tea, essential oils for your diffuser
- Nature sounds that will help you relax and/or sleep
- Yoga or some activity to get the blood circulating
- A visit to your therapist, either through an app like Talkspace or teletherapy
- Confiding in your tribe
- Meditation practices
- If your problems are too severe for one person, create a crisis plan with phone numbers of friends, family, and accessible hotlines.
The uniqueness of your coping box is up to you. The box is interchangeable; you can add and subtract whatever you want. It's here to be of service to your needs.
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