I first heard about survival or crisis kits while in the hospital trauma unit, and I made my first one 7 or 8 years ago. The only problem with that one was that I never used it. I fell so quickly and thoroughly into feelings of rage or despair or terror that I completely forgot about the kit. If I had remembered, perhaps I would have been able to rise out of the overwhelming emotions much faster.
What goes in a survival kit? Like a kit designed for survival in a hurricane or a snowstorm, an emotional survival kit provides for emergencies. Basically, it contains items that appeal to the 5 senses and create a sense of well-being. Sensory input is a great way to self-soothe. By looking at a pleasant picture, using fragrant lotion, or tasting something I love, I am distracted from the overwhelming feelings so that their power over me is broken. A survival kit should include at least one thing for each of the 5 senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. It is also good to include something that will distract the mind itself.
Here’s the contents of the kit I made recently:
~ pictures of my children and their cats (sight)
~ a rosary (touch, also spiritual)
~ lip gloss (smell, taste, touch)
~ sugar-free candy (taste)
~ a book that makes me laugh (Non Campus Mentis)
~ mp3 player (hearing)
This list is not particularly different from the kit I made years ago, but this time I’m actually using it! When I feel myself growing distraught, irritable, or nervous, I use one or more of the things in my kit to help me return to equilibrium. To be honest, I am surprised at how effective it is!
The single most useful item is the lip gloss, probably because it is multi-sensory. It smells like strawberries, absolutely delicious! Putting it on immediately calms me; one requirement, however, is that I must use the lip gloss only when I need it for self-soothing — the rest of the time I use regular lip balm.
From now on, I have no excuse for not making use of a survival or crisis kit. I know that it works. It’s a resource I can use on a daily basis to self-soothe and modulate my emotions.
Next post: How to make a mini-crisis kit from an Altoids tin