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A little self-soothing goes a long way

Posted on Mon, Feb 22, 2021 By:
Posted in: blogMental Health & Mindfulness

I’m finding myself struggling a bit through this month of February. I think it’s a combination of the bitter cold and the continuing restrictions on gathering. I got together with friends this past weekend to enjoy a socially distanced YYC hot chocolate, but I couldn’t hear well as my friend spoke through her mask two metres away from me, I couldn’t see well for the fog on my glasses, I couldn’t get comfortable for my toes slowly freezing in the brisk temperatures, and the smoke from the smouldering fire pit we stood around was more smoky and smelly than warm. I left feeling disheartened.

We are still learning how to navigate a whole different way of the world. We’re working hard to stretch our creativity, boulster our determination, and build resiliency as we experience both success and failure at adapting to life in this new way of the world. Some of us may need a break from time to time. A chance to rest, reflect, and rejuvenate. A chance to renew hope and bring healing into this new year.

In our Emotion Commotion workshops at CASS, we teach people strategies for emotional self-regulation. One of my favorite activities within the 12-week workshop is to make a self-soothe box.

A self-soothe box is a container of stuff that one can go-to when feeling upset, anxious, stressed, or angry.  It’s a collection of ideas, things, and activities that can provide self-care and self-nurturing when difficult feelings arise. Items in your self-soothe box can also serve as a relaxing distraction from distressing thoughts and emotions. Items contained in the box will be unique to each person, but may include: comforting photos, relaxing scents/essential oils, objects that feel good to the touch (fidget or squishy toys, smooth river rocks, fabrics), poetry, music, journalling pads and pencils, helpful affirmations, and/or objects of personal/historical significance (a homemade bracelet, a childhood toy, a memento from a lost loved one). Having these artifacts in a box allows us to access them quickly and easily when in need of comfort, nurturing, and distraction.

It doesn’t have to be in a box, though. You may have a self-soothing area of your home that you can go-to, for example, like the bathtub, or a favorite rocking chair. You may have a self-soothing time in your day when you regularly check in with yourself and move through a self-nurturing ritual like deep breathing or tea-sipping. You may have a self-soothing go-to activity that you practice whenever difficult feelings arise, like going for a walk, yoga poses, or spraying some essential oils in the air.

Whatever it is for you, a self-soothing ritual is more likely to be used if it is convenient, quick-acting, and effective. For some of us, that is a box of calming objects stored in a easy-to-reach place. For others, it’s a place or activity or time.

As we settle into this new year, and as you navigate those feelings that arise when leaving a difficult year behind to step into an uncertain future, consider self-soothing with a self-soothe box, place, activity, or time. Surround yourself with good feels as an act of self-compassion and self-nurturing. You deserve it. Enjoy.

Stay well,


Video on “How to make a Self-Soothe box” from YoungMinds:

Self-soothing with the Butterfly Hug:

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