It was quite a journey of thought, which I won’t bore (or frighten) you with, but I’ll tell you where I landed.
I decided to make a piggy bank of sorts, filled with ways to reset a moment when I may be anxious, discouraged, angry, or any emotion that’d I’d rather not be feeling. The plan is to give myself a moment to experience the negative feeling, acknowledging it, giving it its place and credibility, and then encouraging it to float away from me on an imaginary river while I reach into a bin filled with folded scraps of paper and pull one out like I’m drawing a BINGO ball.
Whatever is on the scrap of paper, I will do or contemplate. Its purpose is to distract or uplift me, so that I can get back on task.
Some of my go-to coping mechanisms for moments of anxiety — doing a drawn-out sudoku puzzle, having a whiskey, lying on my couch mindlessly scrolling Facebook, watching something on TV I don’t even like, texting a ranty complaint to a pal, or doing all of the above, all at once — often prevent me from reaching any semblance of productivity. Reaching for my new “reset box” during moments of stress will hopefully be way more effective!
How to Make Your Own
- Get a little box, jar, piggy bank, or other container. I almost used an empty tissue box until I remembered my IKEA drawer organizer bins.
- Cut up a few sheets of paper into a bunch of little squares.
- Write various things to do or contemplate, keeping each thing pleasant and simple. See if you can make them 5-minute tasks. Fold each one up to hide its contents and toss it into your box.
Some of My Little Notes
- One has a really nice compliment I got recently. (From now on, any time someone pays me a compliment that makes me feel good, I’m going to write it down and put it in my box. You should too!)
- One reads, “Read ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ out loud.” (What’s *your* favorite poem?)
- One directs me to listen to a favorite opera song. (What song makes *you* happy?)
- One directs me to read my favorite scripture.
- One reads, ‘Make a cup of tea.”
- One reads, “Make pumpkin puddin’.”
- One reads, “Respond to a #MightyMinute post.” (Check out what I’m talking about here: https://themighty.com/topic/mightyminute/)
- A couple of them are reminders of times when miraculous things happened in my life.
- One directs me to light a candle and pray for someone who’s going through worse.
- One directs me to hug my dog.
- One reads, “Watch Jingle Farts.” (I’ll just put that right here for you…)
And Even More Ideas
- Do you have an inspiration board? Write a note to spend a few moments meditating on it.
- When you read an inspirational quote, write it down and toss it in.
- When you’re caught by surprise by something good happening to you, write it down and toss it in.
- When you find yourself getting joyfully lost in a little activity, write down what the activity is and toss it in.
- Write yourself a love letter.
Plus, a Treasure Chest!
I grabbed a second bin and I bought some playful distractions to put in it. They’re all things that cost $5 or less and can be played with for just a few minutes at a time. I’m me, so I went straight for the toy aisle: Play-Doh, slime, LEGOs, a dinosaur paint set, bouncy balls, and water-activated grow-y animals. It’s a start.Think happy stocking stuffers.
So, one of my notes in my “reset box” directs me to pick a new toy from my treasure chest. Yours can direct you to specific items, or you can make it a choice of any. Feel free to better your odds and have multiple notes sending you into the treasure chest. You can make it ongoing fun by always keeping an eye out for new items when you’re out and about.
(Yes, yes, it’s kind of like a Splatquake Kit, but smaller things for smaller “emergencies.”)
Do This with a Partner or a Group
- If you live with someone, let them know they are welcome to write nice notes and add them to your box. They might even write a first clue to a mini scavenger hunt!
- Gather a group, whether in person (mindful of COVID-19 safety precautions of course), or virtually, and brainstorm notes, write kindnesses to each other, and trade or gift treasure chest items.
- Post on social media that you’re making this box and ask people to contribute fun ideas, inspirational quotes, or compliments.