If you find yourself struggling to soothe or comfort yourself in difficult situations, what might help is a sensory box. Engaging your senses is an excellent tool to come to your own rescue.
Find a special box or empty out a dresser drawer, and fill it with sensory items similar to the objects suggested below. Get creative! When you find yourself in distress, turn to your box for comfort, distraction, and more. If one strategy is not enough, pick others.
Feel: An ultra-soft old t-shirt, your baby blanket, a scalp massager, a squeeze ball, a bottle of bubble bath, fidget toys, smooth or polished stones, zen sand garden, plasticine or clay-like product, kinetic sand, a weighted blanket, a notecard suggesting to have a hot shower or a cuddle with your pet.
See: Photographs that make you smile (pets, children, special events, being silly with friends, childhood), pictures from magazines of a vacation destination you would enjoy or are planning, bubble bottle to blow bubbles, list of favourite YouTube videos or movies, candles, a tiger's eye or other gemstone, a book of poetry or short stories, caring letters from yourself or others.
Hear: List of your favourite songs, your childhood music box, an album of nature sounds or rain falling, a comedy album, small wind chimes, rock music from your teenage years. Phone numbers of friends/loved ones.
Smell: A little bottle of essential oil (like grapefruit or vanilla, or a blend from a store -- with a diffuser being optional), a floral lotion, pumpkin spice candles, cinnamon sticks in a container, smelly felts for doodling.
Taste: Cinnamon hearts, mint gum, chocolate chips with a cookie recipe written on an index card, package of microwave popcorn, dried fruit, a coffee shop gift card with enough balance for at least 1 nice coffee. Consume these slowly, savouring each bite and noticing everything you can about it.
The use of different tastes and smells can serve to calm us or energize us, for example, depending on which one is chosen. Peppermint and citrus give us a boost when we need it; lavender and ylang ylang are soothing for stressful moments.
Another well-known strategy to quickly ground yourself with your senses in the moment, without needing a box, is to stop what you’re doing and seek out:
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste