What is a coping kit? Well, a coping kit is a kit (of course) in which you would store things that you have chosen in a positive mind set to help you get through emotional roller coasters and help keep you in a frame of mind that is adequately dealing with life. Some use coping kits for a crisis situation and anxiety attacks, and though you may like to use it for that, I use mine constantly; my sensory toys in hand or my brain vomiting in my journal. This will just be a couple of ideas for you to try out at an inexpensive and affordable price.
I personally struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder, and I have been told by professionals that I deal with an intense form of it. Not to mention, on top of this, I suffer from trichotillomania (a compulsion to pull my own hair) and it is, sadly, a daily activity. The BPD, depression and anxiety often mix, causing me to feel an overload of an emotion and to keep these feelings in check, and to stop me from participating in self-destructive coping mechanisms, I can turn to my transportable coping kit!
A goal in your personal coping kit is to attribute it to yourself, your interests and your struggles. Make it yours! You need to focus your brain, pack a sudoku. You have high levels of anxiety and suffer from many anxiety attacks, get a liquid motion timer (I know, I just learned the term, too.). You need to capture moments, bring a camera! You need support in case of crisis, include an index card with crisis numbers. Have it intrigue you and make you want to use it, and don’t forget… It’s there for you to use and help get you through tough times!
So, let’s dive into it.
- A container.You’re going to want to invest in a small container that is still big enough to carry your coping tools around with you. It can be small enough to fit in a purse, a beach bag, or even something to store inside of your vehicle. I would say that it is very important that it is compact enough for you to bring it around with you EVERYWHERE you go.
- Gimp. Remember those fun camp days where you sat with your friends making the square shaped keychain with the elasticated material? Yeah, that’s gimp. And if you haven’t actually had that experience, it’s a stretchy plastic elastic material you weave to make keychains or bracelets with. They are time consuming, in a good way, and are great to focus your mind. Patterns for them are available online and there are many intricate designs you can do. It could be soothing, or more challenging if you see it being fit that way.
- Dollar Store Toys. Dollar store toys are perfect to fidget and to distract your mind for a few minutes as they are easy to enjoy, pick up and play, and extremely inexpensive. Displayed above, I have a dollar store connect 4, which I actually used with a friend. This one is more of a social one, which I liked.
- Journal. A journal sounds like an obvious one, and it is. For all of the right reasons. I often saw journals as something to fill with my daily activities, but in this way, it bored me. It is important to express daily activities that stress you out or cause joy, but it could be much more useful to express opinions and feelings on subjects and analyzing behaviours you exhibit, etc. You can discuss things that bring you joy, that make you scratch your noggin’, or that you find beautiful. Try and use this journal to discover yourself in a whole new way and becoming more connected into a more simpler way of life, away from technology and such other forms of documentation. Don’t forget a pencil/pen. Find a good tree, sit by it and write away.
- Rubber necklace.This specific item was something I found in Dollar Tree for 1.25$ and it’s made by Flirt.It’s a child’s accessory but gosh darnit, does it work amazing as a sensory toy. I had always been intrigued since I first saw them. They are rubbery, squishy and hard all at the same time, and even better… They have different sized beads, well… I’m just trying to avoid saying balls, okay? You can wrap it twice around your hand and feel the texture in your palm and between your fingers; twirling and bending it. I found it extremely useful during the beginning of an anxiety attack and it brought me down. I graduate from high school this year and that will be in my hands during the ceremony.
- Rubber bracelet. These textured bracelets are yet another product by Flirt and come in a pack of six! It’s the same concept as the previous one except, these are ribbed, are thinner, and duo coloured.
- Pipe cleaners. These come in abundance and are soft. These can be good for comfort, being as soft as they are. In a situation of high tension or anger, you can peel the fuzz off and bend them. In an artistic mood, you can make cute snakes by adding googley eyes and pom poms. You can wrap them around your fingers and fiddle with them in anxious situations. Get creative!
- Play doh. Brand name or not, these are amazing. I would also HIGHLY suggest silly puty (which you can pop and stretch!). Both of these can come in various forms; glittery, glow in the dark, neon, etc. Silly puty is one of the main things that helped me cope when I had pulled so much that I gave myself a large bald spot. I was able to learn to cope and distract myself with it by popping it and stretching it, heating it and rolling it. This activates so many senses (smell, touch, hearing and sight; but please oh please do NOT taste it).
- Stress ball. The one you see above is a homemade one. I purchased balloons and filled it with flour. I (and my mother) struggled to fill it, and even with the help of a funnel, my mom got a face and counter full of flour after trying to fill it more by stretching it with air. It may be easier to buy a premade one, though, with balloons, you can personalize it and making it could be a good distraction.
- Calm-down glitter jar. This little beauty is another homemade coping tool. I bought glitter for decorating and they came in these tiny little containers. Once I used about 2/3-3/4 of the glitter, I added about 1/4 amount of the container size of glue and filled the rest with water. I sealed it with tape to ensure it would not leak in my coping kit. Because I didn’t use clear liquid glue, mine is not see through, but that’s fine. It still works. Some people also add food colouring. When you are feeling anxious or stressed, shake it and watch the glitter slowly move around and breathe.
- Pom poms. These are just soft and fun to touch. You can incorporate it with the pipe cleaners and use them for visual stimulation.
- Modeling beads. This is a stickier and more textured version of the play doh/silly puty option listed above. It’s a combination of tiny styrofoam balls and a sticky liquid. It’s messy and does get dirty easy, though it is very stimulating. Used in small quantities, you can avoid dirtying the whole amount and it will keep you entertained ad stimulated.
So much available for nearly any situation you may be experiencing. These tools will help you focus and bring yourself down from high levels of anxiety and tension, to relaxation and a place of stability. Make your own kit and have fun!