A calm box, a self-soothe box, a compassion kit, a stress box, a calm down kit, a calm down box. People have different names for it, but fundamentally these terms are used to describe the same thing; an emergency kit that’s been created to bring you comfort when you’re feeling distressed. However, your calm box (my name of choice) doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, you can probably create one with items you already have around the house.
What do you put in a calm box?
A calm box is a collection of items that you store together, which you can turn to if you’re having a bad day, or you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. The idea is that it contains items that tap into your five senses; sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. You should also put it together when you’re in high spirits, so that it’s at hand if you need it.
Calm boxes are often recommended for children, or for people that suffer with stress and anxiety. However, I think that most people could benefit from having a collection of calming items to turn to. Especially at the moment, when the world seems to be going through a period of uncertainty.
How can I make my calm box?
There are no hard and fast rules about what to put in your box and everybody’s box will be slightly different. But it should contain sensory items. So aim for a collection of things that you can see, feel, smell, taste and hear.
You may have an old cardboard box you can use to store your items in. But if you don’t, clear a shelf or a drawer. I keep my kit in a drawer under the bed. You certainly don’t need to go out and buy a box especially. Here are some of the items which you could add to your box:
1) A book (sight)
My book of choice is The Alchemist, a story I’ve revisited on numerous occasions. I find the story grounding and it’s comforting for me to flick through it when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Or if you’d prefer something shorter to read, consider adding some LSW Mind Cards or these calming quotes to your box.
2) A picture or two (sight)
I have a picture of my family in my calm collection. This reminds me that I love and that I am loved.
I also have a picture of West Wittering Beach. This beach is close to where my best friend lives. I love that part of the world and looking at that shoreline brings lots of happy memories to the forefront of my mind.
I printed both of these items off at home, so they didn’t cost me any money to obtain.
3) A crocheted blanket (touch)
Most people have a blanket kicking around. My favourite blanket was crocheted by my mother-in-law. I have it as part of my self-soothe kit, because it always makes me feel snug and comforted.
4) Sleepy lotion (touch / smell)
I use a sleep balm and use it to help me to relax before bed. But I keep it within my collection of calm. It smells of lavender and the act of rubbing the lotion in feels lovely and relaxing. You could use a regular moisturising product instead. You don’t have to go out and buy one especially. Of course, this lotion is only part of the picture when it comes to having a good night’s sleep. You should create a zen-like sleep space too.
5) Calming herbal tea (taste)
I have some herbal teas in my calm box. I find having a warm drink comforting and herbal tea always help me to relax and unwind.
6) Playlist (sound)
I have created a ‘happy’ playlist full of tunes that make me feel uplifted. They remind me of happy times. You might want to create a list of television programmes that make you feel calm and happy too.
7) A beauty product (touch / smell /feel)
Think of a beauty product that makes you feel nice. It could be anything; a moisturiser for your face, a cream for your body, or a Hydrating Tinted Lip Balm for your lips. Have a look around the house and if you find an item that makes you feel nice, add it to the box.
8) Fluffy socks (touch)
I own lots of fluffy socks, but I have a pair especially stowed away in this kit.
9) Plasticine (touch)
I have a young child who likes to play with plasticine, so my house is full of the stuff. If you have kids too, then I am sure that your little one wouldn’t miss one small tub. But if you don’t then it is probably worth buying a tub, as it doesn’t cost much and is a great sensory item to have in your armour.
10) Candle (sight / smell)
Candles are nice to watch flicker, but they also smell good. I have a scented one in my box. I am often gifted candles, so I added one that I got for my birthday to my calm box. It’s a Yankee candle in my favourite scent.
11) Period pants (touch)
I know this sounds gross, but go with me on this. We all have certain items of clothing that make us feel relaxed. It might be a hoodie, an old pair of joggers, or a pair of period pants that you wear at that time of the month, because they’re super comfortable. Whatever that item of clothing that you can’t chuck away is, put it in your calm box. That way, it’s at hand when you really need comforting.
Will this calm down box help your mental health?
I think it’s absolutely worth creating a calm box to help you when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. But please seek mental health support if you feel you need it.
Hopefully I’ve shown you that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to create one of these boxes and your calm box will help you the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you think that your child could benefit from one of these kits, then check out this article.
It’s so important to find healthy ways to deal with stress. Do you have a calm box? What’s in yours?
If you enjoyed this article, then check out my list of 15 ways to look after your mental health (for free).
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2020 and has been completely revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.