Emotional Tool Belt

Lets take a break today from the hard, raw emotional shit and talk a little about things that may (or may not) help you when you’re in a bad place.  I am not trained in any of this, I am merely going to give you a few ideas that have helped me and continue to help me.  That being said this list could be endless, but given some recent life events, and some feedback from other people it seems like we all might be having a bit of a hard time for one reason or another.   For this reason I’m going to concentrate on things to do when life gets really rough, really dark and small tasks alone are hard to complete.  I found it really helpful to create myself an emotional tool belt, if you will, full of things that help.  Sometimes they made me feel better, but at the very least they kept me going.

When you are already in a bad place it is really hard to see the things you are accomplishing, its easier to get caught up in the “not enough” train of thought.  I call this first tool Counting Victories.   I used two mason jars (just make sure you can see inside them) and I bedazzled the shit out of them.  On one I wrote ‘little’, and the other I wrote ‘big’.  Little was for little victories such as: brushing teeth, getting out of bed, washing my face, doing makeup, being early/on time for work, flossing my teeth, putting 5 things away, talking to a friend.  Big victories was things like: leaving the house, spending time cleaning, doing dishes, showering, excersizing, eating, standing up for myself (that was considered huge for me).   You can make your own list of things and actually have them written out if that helps you,  I had explained this idea to a few friends who would occasionally ask about them, and sometimes they would suggest a larger sum for the victories.  So, I used change in mine, but you could use marbles, any kind of small item, just try and have a difference between the little and big items.  Little was 5 or 10 cents (depending on how hard that task was that day), and big was anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar.  This tool was massively helpful, because on those days I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything I’d do this and see the amount of money was going into my jar.  I kept it all in the jars and let it build up, but you could swap it out every day if you wanted to really see that build up of things.  We often don’t give ourselves enough credit for doing all these small things when they can be extremely hard and exhausting to accomplish.

Tool number two was one that I picked up from a therapy group, and I don’t know what they named it, but lets just call it an Emotional First Aid Kit. Now, the things that go into this are extremely individual, and like the last one I suggest setting it up when you are in a more stable ‘wise mind’ type of place.  So do some digging and make a list of things that comfort you, smells, sounds, tastes, activities (healthy ones please), and put them in a box.  You can cover this box with photos, or quotes that make you happy: animals, destinations, empowering or inspiring quotes.  I’ll give you an idea of some things that are in mine.  A little notebook and my favourite pen, some old photos and drawings that make me smile, word searches, a lip gloss that I like the smell of, tea, a candle, a list of activities like: go for a walk, watch a funny animal video, play piano, go to yoga, go to the gym.  A tiny wee stuffed animal that I love the texture of.  An elastic (I’ll get to that one in a second), a little list of happy memories, a list of people to call (thats actually not in it, but I should add it).   So get creative! Add as many things as you want, go for things that occupy your mind, or your senses.

These last two tools are smaller, take less work but I find them really helpful.  One is when I’m feeling paticularly bad I wear an elastic around my wrist and it serves several purposes.  One is occupying my hands when I start to get anxious or worked up, I’ll play with it or twirl it in my hands and it helps keep me grounded in the moment.  Another is when I am feeling very depressed and destructive, and have urges to self-harm I will snap it on my wrist to create just a little sting.   The last one is actually an app that I downloaded months ago that I found has been really helpful and its called ‘Virtual Hope Box’.  Its free and it has games, meditations, and a bunch of things that are helpful.  I actually have a little folder on my phone called ‘Distress Tolerance’ with apps that help me when I’m in a bad place-an Emotional Tool Box for my phone/to go if you will.   (Disclaimer: I am not being paid to tell you about this app, I just found it really helpful)

Those are a few things that have helped me a lot.  If there is anything that you like please leave a comment below! I love new ideas, and I’m sure it would be helpful to everyone else reading this too!

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