Perhaps you’ve heard of them, but maybe you haven’t. Bad Day Boxes (or, bags) aren’t really new, but they have become more and more utilized for those of us who tend to have anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. However, they aren’t just a tool for some, they are something that can be used by anyone! Ever had a secret stash of food or drink you might dig into on rough days? Well, it’s kind of like that, but this technique helps employ more of your senses, and therefore more areas of your brain, helping you to relax and ease anxiety and stress.
There are many ways to help calm ourselves when anxiety or intense emotions arise:
First, we can use our BODY. We can sit in a chair or lay on the floor and tighten each muscle and relax, working our way down. Or, we can just mentally go through each body part and pay attention to what it’s feeling/touching (Ex., my back is against a soft chair back.).
Second, we can pay attention to our 5 senses. Find things that appeal and comfort to your 5 senses. What things do you love the smell of? What do you love the feel of? What are some of your favorite sounds or music? What are some of your favorite foods/drinks? Do you like hot or cold drinks/foods?
Third, self-soothing can be very effective – from lighting a candle to taking a hot or cold shower or bath. (Intense temperature changes can help regulate chemical responses in the brain.)
Fourth, Observe things around you. Take your camera or phone and take photos of things that begin with a certain letter, are a certain color, or are shaped like something specific. Or, sketch whatever it is you see.
Fifth, Breathe. There are many breathing exercises you can try, but simply counting your breaths or breathing in and out to a word you play in your mind like “HAPPY” can keep you focused on your breaths and help your body to relax.
Sixth, Distract yourself. Do you love sudoku? Coloring books? A certain hobby? Word puzzles? Find something ELSE to think about. It really is a technique!
Our boxes can easily utilize ALL of these techniques and organize them into one easy to reach place. Technically, your “box” doesn’t have to be a box at all. It could be an entire room or a favorite spot at your house or in your yard. You could have elements scattered throughout your entire house, even!
For example, in my home, I have comfy, soft blankets and lovely candles everywhere. I have my favorite colors and art in each room. I keep letters written to me to reread on hard days. On my phone, I have playlists for days I need a pick me up. I keep foods and drinks that cheer me up – from herbal teas made with herbs to destress and help improve mood to chocolate muffins to savory but healthier options. However, I also have a box beside my bed that I keep stocked for days that are just BEYOND hard. In it, I have an essential oil blend specifically made for things I struggle with, a couple of activities that I can do (even in my bed!), playdough, a bath bomb, headphones, etc.
Build your own Bad Day Box/Bag/Corner/Tote. Find things that calm you, inspire you, and bring you joy. Then, please leave a comment with what you chose to put in yours! Below are some ideas for what you can put inside:
- A favorite lip balm or chapstick
- Hand cream or lotion in your favorite scent (Bath and Body Works has luxurious hand cream in small tubes!)
- Something soft or silky – maybe it’s a blanket or a favorite sweater or something else like socks or a wrap around scarf. What would you choose?
- A candle in a favorite scent. What scent would you choose?
- Candy or an individually wrapped savory snack like chips or a muffin.
- Herbal teas, hot chocolate, or another drink you enjoy.
- A photo scavenger hunt list for a day that you just need distraction. This is also great for when you are on the go – just take a photo of the list and take photos throughout the day to help distract you.
- A small craft kit, coloring book, sudoku book, word puzzles, sketchbook, or anything else that could help distract you.
- A favorite movie or cd.
- Essential oil blend made with your personal struggles in mind.
- Playdough, slime, a grounding rock, stress ball, or anything else you can manipulate with your hands.
- Bible, prayer cards, scripture cards, affirmation cards, and anything else that inspires and comforts you.
- Letters from those who love you.
- Bath bombs or relaxing bath salts/teas.
Have more ideas you can share? Please comment! We would love to hear them!