How to Create a DIY Anxiety Relief Tool Kit

Written by Dahyana P. Schlosser, PMHNP-BC

For those who struggle with anxiety, the creation of a personalized Anxiety Relief Tool Kit can make a world of a difference. These kits place relief at your fingertips wherever you may be.

When put together in a thoughtful way, they have the ability to help a person stay in control of their anxious symptoms. Your kit can be a small bag that you keep in your purse or backpack. It can also be a box or a small mint tin. Really, it can be whatever you want it to be. The point is to keep all of the parts together in an easily accessible space.

You can make multiple versions of your Anxiety Relief Tool Kit and keep them in special places like your desk at work, your car, or anywhere else you frequent.

Everyone can have a toolkit, including children. Helping a child to put together a toolkit that they can use at home, in school, or in any other setting that causes them anxiety can be a powerful way to empower them to cope with their anxiety.

In order to make an Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit, you will need to make sure you have something to engage each of your senses.

Tip #1: Something for your hands and body

Rubik’s cubes are great for this! They engage your mind and hands in an activity that undoubtedly will divert your anxious energy.

Fidget toys such as this ingenious cube consolidate multiple fidget-worthy activities into one item. Roll a ball. Click some buttons. Rotate a joystick. It is so awesome because it is small and discrete. As a result, it allows the user the ability to fidget and take out their anxious energy in almost any setting.

In addition, stress balls, pencil toppers, velcro, pipe cleaners, and poster tack or Play-Doh can all be great anxiety relief tools.

Anything with texture, such as a soft towel or blanket are nice to hold on to and rub between your hands or fingers. Depending on how big your particular tool kit is, you may need to cut whatever material you choose down to an appropriate size. You may find you like having a small one for school and a larger one for home.

Tip #2: Something to Smell

Engaging your sense of smell can be so helpful! Smells, especially ones that remind us of pleasant memories are known to help calm anxiety.

Quick mindfulness exercise: Think back to a time when you felt really serene and calm. Where were you? What did you see? Most importantly for this exercise: what were you smelling? If possible, try to pinpoint that smell. Describe it. Then, brainstorm ways to capture it and have it in your tool kit.

If you can’t pinpoint a smell. Or, if the smell you remember is impossible to recreate, try some of these:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Jasmine
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Vanilla

Many scents can be found in the form of oils, soaps, lotions, and of course in other organic states. Lotions and oils in particular can engage more than one sense if you decide to put some on.

For scents that come in more organic forms like flowers, loose powders, or spices, you may need to find vials or jars to keep them in.

Tip #3: Something to Listen To

Most of us carry around our phones. Having a specific playlist that you create with songs that you know help to calm you down is a powerful way to get rid of anxiety. Music heals and has the power to take us away while keeping us present. So, in your tool kit you may want to make sure you have headphones for when the occasion arises.

Here are some playlists for chronic anxiety.

Tip #4: Something(s) to See

Any visual representations of things that make you feel calm are great antidotes to anxiety. If looking at pictures of particular family members is what keeps you calm then have those handy!

For some it may be that looking at serene landscapes in nature takes you to your calm place. Maybe it is a photo of you or someone else engaging in an activity that you know takes you to your calm place. Rock climbing? Yoga? Swimming? Gardening?

Using an online photo service is a cheap and convenient way to get pictures of any kind printed. Mpix is just one of these. Of course, your camera roll may be your go-to.

Other examples of visual calming aids are:

  • Pictures of your favorite art pieces.
  • Coloring books and coloring tools (pencils, crayons, markers etc.). Engage your visuals while partaking in the therapeutic activity of coloring. Adult coloring books like this one are awesome for those of us that feel swearing can be appropriately cathartic.
  • Any object that you enjoy looking at such as: seashells (can also engage your feeling senses), uniquely colored rocks (Smooth or textured can also engage your feeling senses), prisms, or a mirror.

Tip #5: Something to Feel (via rocking or deep pressure)

Many people use linear movements such as walking, rocking, or swinging to calm themselves. Try using a rocking chair, going for a walk, or swinging. Others also find deep pressure input such as hugs, weighted blankets, lap pads, jumping, or putting a heavier item like a book or bag on their laps helps with anxiety. You can also provide some slow calming deep pressure to the top of your head with your hands when overwhelmed. You may even find you like both rocking and deep pressure at the same time!

Tip #6: Something to Taste

Eating to relieve anxiety can be a slippery slope for some. However, there are some foods that are known to have calming effects on people. The following can easily be slipped into your Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit and stored for longer periods of time.

  • Chocolate – pure dark chocolate has been known to lower the levels of the hormone cortisol which is linked to stress and anxiety.
  • Almonds – contain zinc which is essential in balancing mood. Furthermore, almonds have iron which could help to keep your brain energized and less susceptible to anxious energy.
  • Chewing gum (aim for sugar-free!)
  • Calming Teas
  • Mints

Other foods that you may want to consider taking with you as you leave your house are:

  • Oranges – hello Vitamin C!
  • Blueberries– considered to be a Superfood. They have antioxidants (among many other things) that help to combat anxiety.
  • Peaches – have nutrients with calming effects.
  • Whole Grains – pasta or bread anyone? We’ve all been there after a big meal with some complex carbs. We feel slower in our minds and our bodies. A great antidote for anxiety – though you may want to incorporate exercise if you plan on using this one a lot!
  • Carrots – or other healthy crunchy snacks can be calming.
  • Water bottle – to stay hydrated and help yourself calm your mind.

Tip #7: Some other things you might want to consider putting in!

  • Favorite books – especially ones with positive quotes or thoughts.
  • Chapstick or lip balm – it smells and feels good to put on, you are certainly engaging more than one sense at a time. Thumbs up to that!
  • A journal or a small notebook to get those anxious thoughts out of your head. Writing them down can be super helpful. Sometimes this act alone can show you just how irrational your thoughts are. Maybe you read them back to yourself and laugh at how ridiculous you can be! 🙂
  • Lastly, do you know what you worry about? Maybe when you are in a good headspace, perhaps after a yoga or meditation session, you can write down phrases to help calm you down. You can dedicate a journal page (or a few) to this activity. Or, write on strips of paper, fold them, and place them in a small box or ziploc bag. This version allows there to be a bit of mindfulness activity when you go to unfold and read them. Either way you do it, just know that there is nothing like disproving your own thoughts to combat anxiety.

Some examples of what you can say to yourself:

  • Hey, Danny isn’t ignoring you -– he is probably just busy right now.
  • I’m doing great at work. Why am I worried? Also, just last week, my boss said I’m really impressing everyone!
  • I’m not a failure. I’ve accomplished so many things in my life. I’m only worried because I want great things for myself. I don’t need to worry to be great.
  • I’m okay. You’re OKAY.
  • This feeling is not permanent. It will pass.
  • Take ten deep breaths.
  • WOO-SAHHH!
  • Stay Present.
  • Notice what you can see right now.
  • Notice what you can hear right now.
  • Notice what you can smell right now.
  • Notice what you can feel on your body right now.
  • It always helps when you_______ .
  • I am in control.

Compiling your Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit should be fun because it is literally all about you! Also, it helps you to bring to the forefront of your mind things that help you feel better. Not only that, you’ll feel more in control. After all, who doesn’t like to feel calm and relaxed? Anxiety doesn’t stand a chance when your kit is stockpiled with your best kept secrets!

One last Tip!
Using more than one tool from your tool kit at a time can help if you are feeling very anxious. So, if you are in a place where it is possible to pull multiple things out, do it! For example, you may want to put your headphones on and listen to some music, then put some great smelling lotion on your hands, and play with a fidget tool. Although if you are only feeling a little anxious, perhaps being mindful as you put on some tingly delicious-smelling chapstick is all that you need. For more information about Anxiety and other Mental Illness Conditions click here.