Summer. A season when we break routines. Maybe school is out. Maybe you’re going on vacation. Maybe you’re covering for other people who are going on vacation. Even good change causes stress, so it’s smart to stay aware that even these good breaks can bring stress and throw us off our game. We know that when we’re activated, we’re not at our best cognitive ability. So if you’re heading into a situation (it’s family reunion season, is it not?) where you expect to be activated, it can pay off to plan ahead and have a toolkit ready. Whether it’s the beach, your family or life in general that overwhelms you, this index card toolkit is for you.
What do I need?
- An index card-sized file folder
- Index cards
- rubber band
- red marker (optional)
Where do I start?
First, you want to decide what sections you want. Here are some ideas, though feel free to create your own.
- Grounding exercises
- Inspirational quotes
- Notes from friends, family or therapist (can be collected)
- Bible/religious verses/sayings
- Pictures that are meaningful
- Goals you want to accomplish
- Neutral comebacks (i.e. “Do you think so?” “How interesting.” “That’s nice.”)
- Emergency hotlines, friends or supports to call
Next, create some index cards for each category. The stone, rubber band and marker are in case you need them for grounding exercises. I’ve had clients who want to cope in ways other than cutting keep the marker in the kit so that they can use it if they feel the urge to cut. The pen is if you think of things or read a quote and want to add it right then and there.
Now, you just keep it with you. The nice thing about the size is that it’s not too hard to keep track of. For women, it can fit in a purse and for men it can fit in a camera bag or backpack. Or perhaps you want to photograph each card and keep it in an album on your smartphone, if you’ve got one.
I’ll confess that this wasn’t completely my idea. A couple of years ago, a client with a very severe history of self harm (both in frequency and severity of burning) had made the kit at the suggestion of a previous therapist. She found it easy to carry, which is important to someone using public transportation. Since then, I’ve used the technique with other clients who self-harm as a way to remember their other coping strategies.