The holiday season is often portrayed with images of coziness, warmth, and togetherness, with TV ads featuring family gatherings filled with laughter and food. But in reality, of course, the holidays can be far from picture-perfect…
For many of us, the period of November to December comes with complicated feelings which can cause a spike in tension, sadness, or irritability. For kids, the excitement of the holiday season may go hand-in-hand with more meltdowns; and for adults, there may be periods of “holiday blues.”
There are many possible reasons for increased tension around the holidays. We might be worried about family conflict, afraid that the holidays won’t meet our or others’ expectations, or stressed out by the increased spending. Or we might experience sadness about unresolved past experiences with family, or grief over holidays spent without a loved one. Or we might be in a funk because our rhythms and routines are disrupted as we travel or host people in our homes.
If you tend to have a tough time during this time of year, you can prepare for what’s ahead by creating a calm down kit.
A calm down kit is a small collection of items that you can turn to when you’re finding it difficult to regulate your emotions. When you catch yourself feeling increasing stress, sadness, or anger, you can turn to your kit to help you interrupt the cycle of building tension.
With everything already gathered in one place, you’ll be ready to go when those holiday blues are getting to you.
The process of creating a calm down kit is really personal. That is because there is no universal recipe for calming down! What you put into your kit will depend on what you enjoy and look for when you are feeling out of balance.
With that in mind, here are the steps to creating your kit:
1. Choose a container or bag. If you’d like your kit to come with you on the go, a small pencil case or gallon-sized bag is a good choice. Otherwise, a shoebox or other similar sized container can do the trick!
2. Collect items for your kit. As mentioned above, everyone has their own ways of calming down and feeling better. Here are some general suggestions for items to try:
Scented items, like a hand lotion or candle with a fragrance that you find relaxing. Focusing on your senses can help bring you out of your worries and back into the present moment, and may also remind you to take some deep, soothing breaths.
Stationary, like post-its or paper and markers or pen, to help process your feelings by writing them out.
Items to distract you, like an etch-a-sketch, a Rubik’s cube or a small jigsaw puzzle.
A fidget, silly putty, or playdough to let off some steam by using your hands
Motivational or encouraging items, like a note from a loved one; an object that reminds you of something you enjoy, like a memento from a fun vacation; or a figurine of a favorite animal or superhero.
Items that match your interests and hobbies. If you are a knitter, slip a little knitting project in your kit. If you love to read, keep a book of short pieces like poems or short stories. Juggling, hacky sacks, headphones, a set of paints… Whatever your heart desires!
3. Put your kit into practice. Keep your kit somewhere practical, so you’ll remember to turn to it when you’re feeling blue. As you use it, keep the items that are useful to you, and replace the ones you don’t with new things to try. Over time, you will build your collection with the things that work best for you!
A DIY Calm Down Kit is great for “grown-ups” and kids alike. For the littles in your life, you can download a kid-friendly guide to creating a Calm Down Kit below:
Here at Embolden, we are wishing you lots of whatever you need this holiday season, whether that's love, joy, peace, or all of the above!