This post is all about creating an emotional rescue kit full of effective sensory calming activities for adults.
Here you will find a mega list of self-soothing strategies, categorized by each of the 5 senses.
If you’re here from the UpLift Planner, WELCOME!!
Use the ideas below to fill out the “My Rescue Kit” section
How do you gather yourself after an upsetting event?
When you’re overwhelmed by a flood of emotions, it can be hard to know what to do or how to get back to “feeling normal”. This may lead to negative coping mechanisms.
For this reason, I encourage everyone to maintain a kit of positive coping techniques that allow you to descalate your emotions. When you have a list of your go-to self-soothing strategies handy, it allows you to regulate your emotions more quickly and not have to turn to negative coping strategies.
I like to call it a “break in case of emotional or mental emergency” kit (named after how they label fire extinguishers).
It is a collection of things that soothe you & make you feel emotionally safe.
You can also call it a self care kit or a comfort box.
**Note that when I say kit, it doesn’t have to be an actual box, the ideas just need to be gathered together somewhere and easily accessible.
When you feel overwhelmed, overly stressed or anxious, your self care box will contain multiple healthy coping mechanisms that you can trust to “snap you out of it”.
This is an effective part of a long-term stress management plan.
Why the 5 Senses?
Engaging your senses helps you to feel grounded. This simply means that it brings you to the present, reorients you to reality and distracts you from overwhelming or confusing feelings.
When you only have a moment to gather yourself, this is how you regain control of your emotional and mental state.
For a comprehensive engagement of your body, identify at least one self-soother for each of your 5 senses.
Self Soothing Ideas (organized by senses)
NOTE: As you create your kit, it’s important to-
- Choose what’s effective for you.
You aren’t the same as everyone else. For example, it might be popular to relax by taking a bath but if you hate baths, it has no place in your emotional rescue kit.
- Get specific.
For example, don’t just write that you will light a candle. Include the brand and scent that helps you to feel comfortable and settled.
- Remember that these can change with time.
And that’s okay. Reevaluate your kit regularly and change things around when you need to.
With that, here’s your mega list of self soothing ideas, organized by each of the 5 senses!
FEEL / TOUCH / DO WITH YOUR HANDS
- color in a coloring book
- change into your most comfortable clothes
- brush your hair
- wiggle your toes in some sand or grass
- go for a swim
- rip up paper
- knit or crochet
- pet a furry friend
- do an inspiring craft
- distract yourself with a puzzle
- use a fidget spinner
- soak in a warm bath
- get a hug / ask for a hug
- splash some cold water on your face
- do a puzzle
- write a gratitude list
- dance around
- rub your hands together to create heat
- wash your hands in cool or warm water
- release your tightened muscles one by one until you are all relaxed
- clench and unclench your fists
- make your bed
- fold clothes
- sleep under a weighted blanket
- hold your own hand
- take a drive with the windows rolled down
- rock yourself gently
- change your sheets and lay in a bed of fresh sheets
- massage yourself
- spray on a sentimental perfume
- smell the clothing of someone you love
- take a deep breath of fresh air
- your favorite candle scent
- enjoy a scented moisturizer
- essential oils
- dryer sheets
- browse a fragrant garden or flower shop
- bake something and let the smell fill your home
- spray a calming room spray
- use your favorite shampoo to wash your hair
- boil cinnamon and/or other aromatics
- smell your hair
- breathe in some menthol (like Vicks)
- smell the ocean breeze
- sniff some coffee beans or a freshly brewed cup of coffee
- watch a favorite, predictable show
- make the space around you more organized/aesthetically pleasing
- read a good book
- look at a nostalgic photo
- read a meaningful note
- watch a funny video
- turn off harsh indoor lighting and turn on softer, cozier lighting
- watch the clouds go by
- count objects around you
- close your eyelids and take a nap
- let the tears out
- people watch in a public place
- do a visualization exercise
- categorize things (like your clothing) by color
- listen to a guided meditation
- repeated affirmations
- an empowering playlist
- silly podcast
- call someone you love
- turn on a song that always makes you want to move
- mute the noise with sound cancelling headphones
- sing to yourself
- listen to loud music
- get mindfully silent and notice the sounds around you
- listen to white noise (or brown noise)
- pray out loud
- listen to the sound of running water
- listen to an audiobook
- tell your plants about what happened
- silence your devices
- adjust your self-talk aloud
- turn on a sound machine
- chew some gum
- eat some Pop-Rocks
- cook and eat a sentimental recipe
- drink a cool drink
- sip on a cup of hot tea
- have some hard candy
- eat a wholesome meal when you’re hungry
- suck on a piece of ice
Another way to engage your senses when you feel emotionally disturbed is to practice the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.
To do so, look around and identify:
- 5 things you see
- 4 things you feel
- 3 things you hear
- 2 things you smell
- 1 thing you taste
This technique helps you to shift your attention from the emergency happening internally to what’s happening outside of you. It grounds you and gives you time to sort your emotions.
As you utilize the tools above, don’t forget to be mindful and focus completely on the actions that you are taking in the moment.