Craft a Box to Sooth & Empower
by Chetna Mehta
A SOOTHING BOX
A soothing box is an evidence-based intervention to regulate and empower ourselves. Research supports its therapeutic effectiveness in managing intense emotion. It can be a powerful distraction from pain, and also a refocus on positive sensory input, and reminder of uplifting memory and supportive resources.
The soothing box is meant to hold treasures of 5 senses; it includes chosen items that appeal to our different senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight. The box is a place to come to, to be soothed, empowered, to be held, transported, loved, delighted and reminded.
WHAT TO INCLUDE
Soothing boxes are dynamic and always changing. When creating your own, include items that remind you of what’s important to you. Consider what incites pleasure in you, what makes you excited, what you strive to be, what you trust and love. Find or a create a symbol to place in your box. Think about your senses and what each of your senses enjoys; represent each with an item that can fit in your box. Include content that means something to you, represents a milestone in your life, symbols that bring you back to the bigger picture, representations of your connections, accomplishments and support. Spend some time creating an outer shell of your box that’s uplifting and inspiring to you- it can be any box, and you can put anything on the outside of it that makes you happy. Everything related to your box from its outside decor to its insides should serve up the feelings that you want to feel.
My soothing box consists of:
orange essential oil, citrus as an uplifter and energizer
a clear quartz crystal that I love holding it, i rub my fingers and cheeks on its smoothness, I aspire for its clarity- in heart, mind and speech
a little Buddha, a gift from my uncle, a reminder of my philosophy and admiration
a inner child self-portrait, showing me my innocence, exuberance and vulnerability
a magnet from Mexico City from a trip with a good friend, a symbol of my free-spirited travel and adventure
photobooth photos of my beloved and I at his cousin's beautiful, multicultural wedding
rocks from Lake Michigan that I wrote "create" and "own it" on; reminders to do what I was born to do and to be proud of it
pieces of paper with different affirmations like "you are smart, you are purposeful, you are important"
pieces of paper with actions like "draw out your feelings for 20 minutes" or "dance full out to a favorite song" or “write a poem about exactly how you feel in this moment.”, which I can pick from and act on
a watch that my mother gave to me for my 24th birthday while I was in a wheelchair recovering from a car accident, reminders of my support, strength and survival
HOW TO USE IT
Mindful engagement is crucial when using a soothing box, which is immersing ourselves completely in the items of our soothing boxes, and focusing attentively on it. I.e., if I have lavender essential oil (something that appeals to our senses of touch, smell and even sight, and is relaxing biochemically with a fragrance I love), mindful engagement would be noticing the details of the bottle, the color of the oil, how it feels on my skin, its temperature, the viscoscity, sniffing it in my belly, noticing how it feels in my nostrils, how deep I can breathe it in, how the scent lingers in my noise. If I have a photo of a loved one, I’ll tune into the details of the photo, notice both the physical materials used, the textures, the lines and wrinkles, and also the posture, clothing, expression of the person/people in the photo. I could feel into the feelings that occur when I look at the photo, and notice what happens in my body.
Leveraging a tool like a soothing box reminds us of our capacity to take care of ourselves, to sooth and relax ourselves. Our breath and senses are always available to us. We can easily get caught up in thinking discouraging or harmful thoughts, and the contents of a soothing box get us present with an empowered focus. Playing intentionally with our senses gets us into the wisdom of our bodies; out of overwelming emotion or heady and unproductive cycles of thought. It brings us from our limbic system – the emotion-centered part of the brain – into our cerebral cortex, the part that's key in memory, attention, awareness, language and consciousness.
Know that you are leveraging your sensational powers by creating and using a soothing box. Going through the steps and reflections of building a box is, in and of itself, an exercise in pleasureable and creative self-expression. And when you’re done, it’s there for you to engage with as a tool to relieve and empower yourself.