Updated August, 2021
Research shows that practicing a mindfulness skill 5 -6 times a day over a time period of 4 -6 weeks, for only 30 seconds to 2 minutes at a time, is effective in helping manage anxiety and depression.
Repetition of a positive coping skill helps you shift out of the brain’s biological tendency to cling to ruminative negative judgements. Repetition of a positive coping skill helps bring you into Wise Mind. Long term practice creates a new positive habit via creation of new neuronal networks in your brain.
Create Your Own Comfort Kit
As a healing ritual, I ask my clients to complete a homework assignment called Create Your Own Comfort Kit. The Comfort Kit is based on the DBT Skill of self-soothing.
The Comfort Kit consists of a small token that speaks to all your six senses. It should be something you can carry around with you during the day. All of these things should be pleasant or comforting to you. Use these things to bring you mindfully to the moment multiple times a day, to create a new neuronal network in your brain and help sooth you over time, like the research says. Use your Comfort Kit when you are idle or when you are starting to feel anxious, angry or sad, before emotion mind hijacks you. The idea is to bring yourself back to your body with scent, touch, sight, sound, taste and motion so you are feeling ok, not jazzed up.
Your Comfort Kit can help you get into Wise Mind.
Using the self-soothing tools when you are idle helps build up your emotional bank of relaxation and creates an underlying habit of reaching for something positive for comfort. Using the self-soothing tools when you are morphing into high emotional gear helps bring you mindfully back into the moment. Using your senses grounds you by anchoring yourself somatically to the present moment.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Be patient with yourself, it takes time to acquire new skills. The process to acquire a skill is: first to learn about it, then practice it often, then be able to use it under stress. So it’s a process!
There’s no shame in feeling strong emotions, we all do.
It’s normal to feel varying levels of emotional pain in response to the experiences of everyday life. Most of us develop the life skills to tolerate the emotional pain until it passes. It’s ok to feel your feelings and then move on.
It’s normal to feel despair when you lose someone important to you, to feel sad when you lose something important to you, to feel anger when something is taken away from you and to feel afraid when you face the unknown.
The pain, fear, anger, and anxiety can be extreme, sometimes chronic. Grief is usually long-term, feelings you revisit over a lifetime. Sometimes, the feelings can feel as if they are unendurable.
Building a set of coping skills will help.
A Comfort Kit can be as simple as a small swatch of soothing fabric you keep in your pocket, or it could be a bit more involved. Yo can get creative and make a small pouch or a painted jar or nice fabric box in which to put your essential comfort kit items. Whatever you decide, try to keep at least one comforting item with you at all times, and reach for it if you need to give yourself a little TLC.
Something to touch (soft cloth, smooth stone, stress ball)
Something to hear (music, meditation guides)
Something to see (pictures, snow globe)
Something to taste (Tic Tacs, herbal tea)
Something to smell (essential oil, lotion, candle)
Some movement that helps you feel good (walk around the block if possible, yogic alternate nostril breathing, Warrior Poses for strength, simple Qi Gong movements for relaxation)
How to Use
To use your Comfort Kit when your emotions are strong, focus on one thing at a time until your stress levels are manageable.
Such as, choose to use a visual aid to self-soothe, then take out your focus picture and breathe deeply, pulling up positive feelings and balancing out the negative feelings. It’s important not to stuff the negative feelings but to acknowledge them and move on, to let your stress levels drop.
Focus on one at a time when you are in need of some serious self-soothing.
Expanding on the Comfort Kit
Expanding on the idea of the Comfort Kit, take time to surround yourself with beauty that pleases your senses, things that you can focus on when yo are getting overwhelmed by emotions and your can focus on and breathe your way through. Here are some ideas, you’ll have to figure out for yourself what works for you.
Visual Beauty in Your Life
Bring visual beauty into your life: buy or pick flowers to put on your dressing table, have an art book to browse through paintings, look at a book of scenic places in nature and drink in the beauty, put out a beautiful vase you haven’t looked at in a long time on your night-table….whatever you find soothing to look upon.
Write in your journal what you are doing for visual beauty
Bring auditory beauty into your life: download some soothing music to your MP3 player and make a nice list for you to easily pick up and listen to when needed. Some people like the sounds of nature.
Write in your journal what you are doing for auditory beauty
Bring touch beauty into your life: buy a nice smooth wear fleece to wear to bed, or satin or silk pajamas, whatever you feel comforted in. Or have feathers or soft fabric to handle, or a small stress ball or smooth, tumbled pebbles or a special crystal. Or you just might like the feel of an herbal stuffed pillow
Write in your journal what you are doing for your feeling of touch
Bring scented beauty into your life.
Essential Oils are nice to use. Careful of allergies
NEVER ingest essential oils. This will damage your organs.
NEVER use essential oils neat (meaning undiluted) on your skin. Many are caustic or will cause a sensitization reaction.
Use EO sparingly. EO are very chemically potent and act on the cellular level on human neurotransmitters and other structures.
Have a tissue with some lightly scented essential oil near your bedside and sniff when needing a relaxing breath.
Some good scents for relaxation are a blend of lavender, petit-grain, clary sage, and rose.
Don’t run a diffuser all night with them in it, instead, just run the diffuser an hour before bed and then turn it off.
To use on your skin, create your own Calming Oil or Cream:
Mix 1 ounce of jojoba oil (or any other pure oil or cream) with no more than a 2% blend of oil – that’s a maximum of 10 -12 drops
1% blend (5 – drops) if you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or near children under 3
Purchase essential oils from companies that post their GC/MS chemical tests as proof of purity
You can make your own infused oils too.
Make an herbal lavender or chamomile scented sachet of your own.
Herbal teas have a pleasant smell and are relaxing
Write in your journal about what you are creating!
Bring movement beauty into your life. Some people like to walk, others hike, others, bike ride. Horseback riding is very healing for others. Others love yoga or tai chi and yet some people really take to the martial arts. Movement and exercise has been healing for many people in many ways.
Write in your journal what you are doing for your empowering kinesthetic touch.
Visual Journaling Exercise
Here’s a fun way to acknowledge all the ways you can self-soothe.
Create a personal collage of the ways you enjoy self care and self-soothing.
Draw and/or cut pictures from magazines of the following. Hang this collage where you can see it, to help you remember your personal self-soothing ritual.
List of visual experiences that soothe
List of sounds that soothe
List of aromas that soothe
List of tastes that soothe
List of touch that soothes
List of movement exercises that soothe
Have fun! Be well! Namaste, Kathy
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