By Angela

woman-cryingComfort Bags – Creating an Emotional First Aid Kit

A boyfriend calls you and tells you he’s not good enough for you. He’s going into the military and will be moving away….and he’s seeing someone else. Your employer is downsizing and your job which you love has been eliminated. Your spouse tells you he doesn’t think he loves you anymore and he wants a divorce. Your best friend calls telling you her husband just got promoted and they will be moving to the other side of the United States.

Although much of life is unpredictable, we can predict there will be moments of unbelievable happiness, love and confidence and other periods of unspeakable despair, fear and sorrow. The yin and the yang of life. Each provides valuable lessons. The good times help provide memories, experiences, and skills that carry us through the tough times. The bad times help us appreciate the things that are most important, as well as provide an opportunity to deepen our sense of compassion and/or purpose.

When we are in the throes of despair, the pain can feel like it will never end and that we will never be happy again. Friends offer words of encouragement and support. We spend time reflecting, grieving and learning how to grow past the pain. We hear words to songs or read a book which tells of similar struggles and how someone else handled the horrible ache. We allow ourselves to be nurtured and loved. Time passes and gradually the hurt subsides…until the next crisis.

We have learned to be prepared and seen the wisdom in having a first aid kit ready for those unexpected physical traumas. But why not put together a first aidtravel-bag kit for our emotional hurts? A comfort bag which contains collection of things which bring forth feelings of happiness, love, confidence, strength, hope, relaxation, rejuvenation, safety, faith.

Because people have different learning style preferences and because certain types of sensory activities may be better than others at eliciting the kind of emotional healing that is needed, it is best to have a diversity of comfort items. For example, try to provide items you can see, hear, touch/feel, taste and smell. Ideas of items to go into your comfort bag are listed below.

backpack2To begin, find a bag to designate as your comfort bag. You may want to first start with something as simple as a recyclable grocery bag which can be purchased for about $1 at many grocery stores. Or while cleaning out a closet, you may discover a large duffel bag, backpack or small suitcase on wheels which hasn’t been used in a long time and would serve as a perfect “comfort bag.” Your bag can be something that resides close to your bed so you have your comfort items close at hand or can be lightweight and portable, tailored for your own special needs while you are away from your home.

Next, you may want to pull out other containers and fabric bags which are not being used to hold similar categories of comfort items. Otherwise, you will have too many single items floating around in a disorganized mess. As you come across items in your home which suit your needs, place them in your comfort bag. This way, you will be well prepared the next time you are in need of an emotional first aid kit.cd-player

Things to listen tosongs-for-the-inner-child

  • Tape or CD player
  • CD of favorite songs
  • Meditation CDs or tapes
  • A sea shell to place to your ear to hear the sounds of the ocean
  • An audiobook on tape or CD
  • A homemade recording of family or friends talking about their favorite memories with youcards

Words

  • Inspirational sayings, stories or words to songs
  • Jokes that make you laugh
  • Cards which contain inspirational words or a special note. (Don’t sit around waiting for someone to send you a special card. Go out and buy yourself a card that says what you need to hear!)
  • Special things that people have said or written about you
  • Old love letters
  • A notebook and pen so you can write down your thoughts and feelings
  • Affirmations about yourself or your situation that help you feel strong, capable, loved and safemassage-gadgets

Things to feel (to either calm or release tension)

  • A soft plush animal
  • Objects and toys to fiddle with or stroke
  • A “worry” stone or a smooth, polished rock to hold in your hand and rub*
  • A squishy ball or toy which can be squeezed to release tension
  • Playdough or Silly Putty
  • Bubble bath or Bath salts
  • Peppermint foot lotion
  • Lotion for hands/feet
  • A bag of soft tissues with aloe
  • Head, hand, foot or body massagers
  • Chinese “Happy Balls”

Things to bring out your “inner child”toys

  • Toys or games that make you feel playful
  • Candy that had special meaning
  • Favorite movie or book as a child
  • Crayons, watercolor, fingerpaint, side walk chalk, etc.
  • A box/bag of Guatemalan “Worry Dolls” to tell your troubles to**
  • Bubbles to blow

Things to eat/tastetea-hot-chocolate

  • A candy or energy bar
  • Some special chocolates (remember to store bag in a cool place)
  • Some bags of your favorite tea & a mug
  • Hot chocolate pouches
  • An envelope with money to treat yourself to a nice meal, dessert, or appetizer
  • A bottle of Gatorade

Things to look atmad-money

  • Special memories written on index cards or in a journal
  • A rock, seashell or pressed flower you kept to remind you of a special event or vacation filled with good memories
  • Pictures of people or places that elicit pleasant, comforting memories
  • An favorite or inspirational movie
  • An envelope with money in it to treat yourself and a friend to a movie

Reminders that you are lovedstuffed-toy-lamb

  • A pressed flower from a corsage or bouquet or special place given to you by someone who let you know you are loved
  • Love letters
  • Cards from family or special friends
  • Gifts or toys that have special meaning because they were given to you by someone who loved you

Things to smellincense

  • A scented bag of herbs or potpourri
  • A candle whose scent is calming or pleasing or reminds you of comfortessential-oils of things cooking in the kitchen
  • Incense and incense holder
  • A lighter to light candles or incense
  • Perfume
  • Essential oil

Things to wearsoft-socks

  • A necklace that has special meaning to you – it could be a locket with pictures of people you love or who loved you, a stone with special properties, a necklace given to you, Some necklaces can hold a stone of your choice or have a vial filled with a particular essential oil.
  • A piece of jewelry given to you which produces good feelings and memories when worneye-mask
  • Soft, cozy socks
  • An eye mask that is cool, weighted, or scented
  • A neck pillow

Phone numbers of friends

We have all had times when we picked up the phone and called a friend, any friend, while feeling down or upset about something. Sometimes, we ended up feeling worse than before we called because that particular person didn’t say what we needed to hear. The mistake many of us make is to realize we have friends who have different strengths. Before calling someone, think about what kind of support you would find most helpful. Then think about your friends and who would be the best person to provide that kind of support. What is it that you need? Someone who….woman-telephone-talk2

  • Believes in me
  • Is positive and welcoming
  • Asks the right questions
  • Is a great listener
  • Tells me it will be okay
  • Laughs and cries with me
  • Allows me to be myself
  • Offers safety and hope
  • Doesn’t give up on me
  • Enjoys my company
  • Has connections
  • Understands and encourages me
  • Is comfortable to be with
  • Can provide a safe refuge
  • Is comfortable with tearsnotebooks-index-cards-book-rings

Things to do with a notebook, photo album, or index cards and a metal book ring:

Make one or more of the following….

  • “What Makes Me Feel Good” Book – Activities that are comforting, lift your spirits or make you feel good
  • My Book of Confidence – things you like about yourself, what you are good at, positive comments others have said about you, copies of job reviews, letters of recommendation, etc. If you’re having trouble with this, ask a friend, loved one or therapist.
  • “Favorite Memories of Me” Book – include some of your favorite memories and other people’s favorite memories about you
  • My Book of Favorite Quotes – quotes that offer you reassurance, courage, inspiration or comfort.
  • Photos of Special People and Places

Other things you may want to include:

  • Hole punch
  • Index cards
  • Pen and pencils
  • Colored markers
  • Scissors
  • Paper

*Worry Stones –smooth, polished stones which individuals rubbed as a way of reducing stress and creating a sense of calm; originated in Ancient Greece

**Guatemalan Worry Dolls – small dolls made of twigs or wire wrapped with bits of colorful fabric originally made in Guatemala. According to folklore, children tell one worry to each doll and place the dolls under their pillows. The dolls worry in place of the child, thus taking away their worries and allowing the child to sleep peacefully.

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Sources:

Portable Comfort: How to Carry Comfort with You, by Cheryl Rainfield. 2001. CherylRainfield.com. 30 November 2008.

Additional Resources:

Harns, Rachel. 20-Minute Retreats: Revive Your Spirit in Just Minutes a Day with Simple, Self-Led Practices. (2000)

Louden, Jennifer. The Woman’s Comfort Book: A Self-Nurturing Guide for Restoring Balance in Your Life. (2005)

Louden, Jennifer. Woman’s Retreat Book: A Guide to Restoring, Rediscovering and Reawakening Your True Self—In a Moment, an Hour, or a Weekend. (2005)

Noll, Shaina. Songs for the Inner Child (CD). (1994)

Aroma Therapy & Essential Oils

The Main Essential Oils and Their Healing Properties. 2006 – 2007. Pure Inside Out.com. 01 Dec 2008.

Leavey, Pamela J. Essential and Fragrance Oil Properties. 1999 – 2004. AromaTherapyGoddess.com/Of The Goddess Ltd. 01 Dec 2008.

Oils for Emotional Well-Being. 1997 – 2008. AromaWeb, LLC. 01 Dec 2008.

Properties of Therapeutic Quality Pure Essential Oils. 2002. O’Malley & Potter LLC/FeelGoodProducts.com. 01 Dec 2008.

Stones

Melody. Love is in the Earth: A Kaleidoscope of Crystals – The Reference Book Describing the Metaphysical Properties of the Mineral Kingdom. (1995)

Properties of Crystals and Stones by Metaphysical and Healing Lore Use. 01 Oct 2008. CrystalsAndJewelry.com. 01 Dec 2008.

Healing Directory (list by ailment). 2000 – 2008. Gemstone Gifts Handmade Jewelry. 01 Dec 2008.

Quotes

HeartQuotes: Quotes of the Heart. 2007. HeartMath LLC. 02 Dec 2008.

Inspirational Quotes Organized by Subject. 02 Dec 2008. InspirationalSpark.com/Class Act Media, LLC. 02 Dec 2008.

© Angela Cramer, 2008

Photos of items for comfort bag: © Angela Cramer, 2008

Other photos and clipart are the property of Jupiterimages made available through subscription:
© Jupiterimages Corporation, 2008
www.clipart.com

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Printable Handout

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4 Responses to “Comfort Bags – Creating an Emotional First Aid Kit”


  1. 1 Niecie
    December 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I really think this is very helpful. 🙂

    • December 30, 2009 at 11:16 am

      I’m glad you did. I was feeling down just last week and pulled out my comfort bag. It had been a while since I had, and I had fun going through it again to see what I had put in it. One of the items was a long balloon that you blow up and release that whizzes around the room while making a noise. Although my cats were quite annoyed with me, doing that brought out the mischievious child within and made me smile. I put it aside to use again on New Year’s Eve!
      Angela


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