It’s great to have things at home to help us cope – but what about when we leave the house? Many of us have a hard time going out. The world can be a big, emotional nightmare, a place like people. Assembling an “on the go” tackle kit allows us to have that little case, bag or duffel bag that we can take with us wherever we go.
Form of our treatment kit
Before we make our tackle kit, we need to think about the form it can take. Some may want to make a literal kit – a wash bag/makeup bag or pencil case that goes in our main bag, a drawstring bag in the car, or a small box on our desk (top tip: BuddyBox boxes are often the perfect size!). Others will have a slightly less literal kit and keep things in every pocket, bag and drawing.
Where are you going?
When thinking about what to include in our kit, we need to think about the main places we go. We can visit many different places on a regular basis. Alternatively, we can leave the house once or twice a good week and just go to a few different places.
Make a list of each regular place and add to it as you think of another place.
What are you doing?
Some things will be appropriate for some environments and others, so it’s important to consider what we do when we go out. If we can’t use something in a certain environment, then it’s time to get creative and think of something we can replace it with.
What are your challenges?
We all struggle with different things. Some are incredibly afraid of open spaces, others feel claustrophobic in crowds.
Take a list of places and write down the feelings associated with one. Think about what causes these feelings. We don’t know the trigger. We may need to talk to someone to help us solve the problem, which can take a lot of time, but understanding why we struggle with certain things can help us assemble our coping kit to solve the problem.
Dealing with sensory input
Our feelings can affect our feelings. We’re all different when it comes to input that helps and definitely doesn’t. This may take some time to resolve.
Are we suffocated by the noise or do we really like it? Do smells make us sick or comfort us? Does tasting something bring us attention or overload?
Many of us will be a little more sensitive to certain things when we’re anxious, so it’s worth keeping that in mind.
It is useful to consider whether anything else, such as where we go, what we do, and sensory input, affects our ability to cope with the outside world.
Does lack of sleep impair our sensory sensitivity? Does the wind make us sick and dizzy? We can handle it when walking our dog, but not when we’re alone? Does heat increase our anxiety? Does layering up in cold weather make us feel like we can’t breathe?
Keeping these in mind helps us tailor our on-road tackle kit to our individual needs.
When it comes to coping on the go, fidgets can be amazing.
There are many different fidgets available, and most people will have some that they like better than others. Some of the ones available include fidget cubes, tangles, twist and lock blocks, airdoh, 3D printed items or fidget spinners.
Prices vary widely. Often times we can find a version of Jealousy in the pocket money sections of toy stores or even on places like Etsy. Trying a few different things first can help us figure out our preferences. Once we know the contributors, we can pepper them all over the place. Pockets, glove box, desk, kitchen box, bags… absolutely everywhere, so it’s always available.
Most of us chew. Whether it’s our pen cap, fingernails, ice from a drink, arm, or something else, we often chew.
If we want to stop chewing, then we can try chewing gum or chewing gum. Chewables are basically items specially designed to be chewed. Some, like pencil cases, are thinner than others. They will often come in different chew “strengths” depending on how much we chew. It may take some trial and error to find the right type and strength for us.
Some of us find scents grounding and soothing.
Rollerballs are great; they’re super portable and come in lots of different scents, so we should be able to find one we like. They usually have a fairly concentrated smell and should not smell anything around them after the cap is closed. Sprays work the same way, but where we can confine the rollerballs to our pulse points, the sprays will disperse more.
Small bags of lavender (or similar if lavender isn’t our thing) are portable and can have a strong scent that some people find helpful. Remember that where we can put a cap on a spray or roller ball, the smelly bags can smell everything in our kit.
Hot drinks can provide comfort not only for warmth and taste, but also for smell. We can’t pour hot drinks into our kit, but we can keep a stack of emergency soothing tea bags or similar.
Some tastes comfort us, remind us of quiet, happy times. We can associate them with a place or person that makes them feel safe. Sticking some candy, gum, or something else with a long shelf life in our on-the-go kit means we can whip them up and treat ourselves to a treat in times of stress.
We can also try lip balm. Often, like tasting something, the feeling of wearing it can be soothing.
Fighting the Voice
Some of us enjoy silence. Others need noise.
Environmental noise can cause massive, sometimes imperceptible, discomfort for those who are sensitive to noise. Some of us find headphones useful, but we don’t always want to block out all the noise. Noise-cancelling headphones are great because if we’re not playing anything through them, we can continue our conversations while wearing them.
Loops and flares are also intended to eliminate background noise and reduce sensitivity to noise. They are often thinner than headphones. They can take some getting used to, so we may want to practice with them before placing them in our kit.
If we love to listen to something, then it is great to keep unbroken headphones in our kit, because it is terrible to reach for our headphones when we are worried and they break. Making a playlist or using an app like the Quiet app can take the decision-making element out of listening to things.
Fighting the Light
If we are sensitive to light, fluorescent lighting in shops and offices can be very painful. Keeping a pair of sunglasses in our treatment kit may be a must. It might feel a little weird wearing sunglasses at home, but sometimes anything is better than the sound of fluorescent light.
We can consider colored lenses. If we can afford it, seeing a behavioral optometrist can make a big difference. They should be able to test what colors work for us and suggest other things that help make the world seem less “busy”.
If this is not convenient, we can try generic tinted glasses or clip-on lenses. It may take some trial and error to find the color that works best for us, but once we do, the difference it makes to our anxiety levels can be astounding.
Many of us soothe ourselves by using a blanket or cloth. Besides being aware of the clothes we wear, there are other textures we can bring as part of our kit.
If we have a car, then keeping blankets in the car is great because they are always there for when we need them. If our bag is also big enough, we can keep one in our bag. Slipper socks are more portable than blankets. They’re an easy addition to your on-the-go tackle kit; It’s a convenient way to add some extra comfort.
If we’re someone who finds textures particularly soothing, adding one or more of our favorite squares to our kit makes them accessible on the go. When we need them, we can slip them into our pockets and use them to ground and calm ourselves.
The Distraction Coping Kit
There are times when what we really need is a distraction from our surroundings. As long as we are safe, they can help us get out of difficult situations like sitting on a train. Distractions we can keep in our tackle kit include decks of cards, books and puzzle books, or other things to do and do.
Food and drink
Anxiety is exhausting and can do strange things to our blood sugar levels. Some of us feel it more than others. Keeping some snacks in our kit can not only be a way to take a break and catch up, but can also help with any blood sugar issues we may have.
If there are drinks we like, we can’t pour them into our kit, but we can make sure they’re ready. We can add our favorite tea bags to our set. Squash (sincere) is sometimes available in small, portable, squeeze bottles. A bottle of water in the car or in our bag never goes amiss either.
Keeping some money in our kit can ensure we can always buy drinks and/or food even if we forget to increase our snack options. It can also offer peace of mind if something goes terribly wrong.
A spare battery pack for our phone is another useful practical kit component, especially when listening to apps or podcasts using our phone is one of our coping tools.
Those abstract things
Some of the things we struggle with are really “things”, they’re just a little more abstract.
We can’t add “deep breath” to our kit, but what we can do is add hints. A few different cards with emotions on top and coping ideas below can help when we can’t think. It would be helpful to have a list of numbers of people we can call. When we’re anxious, we can have trouble remembering what to do, so having lists of “what to do when…” gives us something tangible to follow. Creating these cues can prevent us from spiraling by giving us something to hold on to.
Fighting kit for kids
It’s not just adults who struggle, children can struggle too.
Creating our coping kit with our child both helps normalize it and means we can share our thoughts – we’ll probably both think of things the other hasn’t thought of!
It is important that our child always knows how to access their kit. Whether it’s hanging on the back of a car seat, in a pencil case in her purse, or in a box by the front door, they should be ready.
Fighting in an emergency
Sometimes things go wrong. There are times when our struggles become intense and we need help. An emergency plan in our emergency kit can be the difference between getting the help we need and not.
There may be steps we can follow and numbers we can call for ourselves, but it can also be helpful to have something that communicates our needs to someone else. A credit card-sized card with our name, useful phone numbers, and needs can help us stay in control even when we’re not able to communicate as effectively as we’d like.
Our on-the-go kit takes time to set up. This is not a stagnant set. As we change and grow, it changes and grows with us. We can’t magically solve the challenges we face when we go out (how wonderful that would be!), but we can do things to help us cope.
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