The Coping Toolbox

How to create a coping toolbox to help with anxiety

 When stress or anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can be difficult to remember what coping tools to use to manage feelings and ground yourself. Everyone goes through periods of stress, and it is important to learn how to take care of yourself. It is important to have tools on standby to use when things get tough.  This is why many therapists and other mental health professionals recommend keeping a coping toolbox to help deal with these stressful times.

What is a coping toolbox?

Creating your tool box can be as simple as writing a list on your phone or on paper of what helps, like breathing exercises or going for a run. In this way when you start to struggle with your mental health, you don’t have to try and remember what to do or search for tips. You can also have a physical toolbox and fill it with things like a stress ball, written notes to yourself, and photos which make you feel happy.

You can also have a physical toolbox and fill it with things such as written notes to yourself, photographs which make you happy. Coping toolboxes should ideally be created at a time when you are not experiencing high stress and can properly think of effective coping strategies. The act of creating a physical toolbox works with people of all ages and it makes a great tool to create with others such as children and adolescents.

Here are some ideas of coping skills:

Meditate: It might be a good idea if you are starting from scratch to include a link to a relaxing playlist or the name of a favourite meditation podcast or app which will make it much easier to get started.

Breathing exercises: There are many helpful breathing exercises which you might want to try.

  • Breathe in deeply for a count of five and then slowly breathe out.
  • Focus on an object such as a lighted candle or a beautiful flower and focus on your breath.
  • Try out some breathing exercises on a meditation app.

Call a friend: Make a list of the people in your life who you feel able to reach out to.

Practice gratitude: Reflecting on things you feel thankful for can help you to change your mind set. Try writing down three to five things in a journal before you go to bed at night.

Watch a funny movie: List some of your favourite films.

Use your five senses:

Smells : Essential oils, candles, body lotions or body oils, incense sticks, bubble bath, perfume.

Sound:  Down load a  meditation sound app and listen to the sound of rain or the sea crashing on the shore, chimes, Tibetan bowls, a rain stick, creating a play list of favourite songs that evoke calming of happy memories.

Touch: Chooses things which you can hold or massage into your body which are calming or soothing to you, such as a stress ball, a massage roller, a weighted blanket, stroking your pet animal.

Taste: Choose foods which are pleasurable to the taste buds.

Sight: Photographs of loved ones, pets, places which you have visited, or images of a dream location, mindfulness colouring books.

Distract yourself: Taking your mind off of the problem for a little bit can help you to come back to things with a new perspective. Things such a s funny videos, books, cooking, art.

Affirmations: Repeating a positive affirmation or mantra can help to bring calm. It is important to choose something which does have meaning to you such as “I am safe”, “I am letting go of my sadness”, “I am feeling calm”, “I am feeling at peace”.

Finally remember that the purpose of the coping tool kit is to have easy access to tools which remind you to take care of your mind and body. You might reach out for the tool box at times when you notice that your stress levels are starting to rise or you can reach for it periodically throughout the day for a more proactive approach.