The Comfort Box by [sic]
*NOTE: Sharing aspects of my anxiety is something that I struggle with, but I felt this was so important to write. Thanks to my fellow Kindreds who encouraged me to post this piece. Love and support: two vital components to managing anxiety. I hope this also inspires my other Kindred spirits to join in. This is such a hard subject to talk about. Anxiety is difficult, but together, we can start a conversation. Enjoy.
Anxiety is hell. Sometimes, even just accomplishing basic tasks can be exhausting. As I began learning how to manage my disorder, I wondered how others coped with their anxiety and went searching on the internet, finding sites such as Kill Your Anxiety, which offers resources, advice and soothing images. I believe it was through them that I stumbled upon a blog post from Mental Illness Mouse about making a comfort box, and it was one of the best things I could have ever found. Reading the list inspired me to think of all the little things I could do to care for myself, even at my most anxious. I went about curating the box with the utmost care. My box is an ottoman that I had bought on a whim at Target when I first moved into my apartment. Sturdy and gray with a padded neon yellow cover, it matched absolutely none of the décor in my home, but it called out to me. I’ve had it in my room ever since, storing odds and ends, but once I started on my project it made sense to have this ottoman be the place to house my comfort items. A journal, a rotating selection of fashion magazines, volumes of poetry, books sent to me by friends, mints, hand lotion, DVDs of calming movies. A Ziploc bag full of magazine clippings, glue sticks and packing tape for making collages. Colored pencils because coloring and doodling is so relaxing to me. Gel pens because they write smoothly and my thoughts can flow onto paper uninterrupted. Tiny treasures that may not seem like much to most but provided calm during trying times.
I’m not saying that surrounding yourself with lovely things will cure you of your anxiety. It doesn’t. Nor does shopping incessantly to fill a void or relying on material items for happiness. The comfort box is my way of making sure I am remembering that I need to care for myself, that I am a human being and can love myself, even if I don’t have money. Self-care is so necessary.
You don’t have to have a lot of money to make a box. Most of my comforts are gifts or items sourced from digging through closets and boxes to repurpose things I already own. The comfort box has inspired me to be resourceful with what I already have and create little comfort centers throughout my home. I whip up my own cheap, natural body scrubs and bath salts for a relaxing soak. A red and white polka dot makeup case in my bathroom holds beauty and skincare samples so I always have a little spa-like experience whenever I need a pick-me-up. I’ve loaded my e-reader with soothing music and reading material, and I bookmarked some of my favorite websites that help me combat anxious feelings so that I can just launch the web and see something calming right away. A portable comfort box, if you will.
After reading an article on Goop titled “Selfish Selflessness: The Art of Self-Healing“, I created a “womb-like” space in my living room by outfitting my beloved ugly secondhand recliner with the softest cable knit blanket, my Ugly Doll and the first Christmas present my husband ever made me, a hand-drawn poem scroll. I like settling into the recliner and wrapping myself in the blanket and a soft pink Isaac Mizrahi Live! scarf, given to me by a dear friend, while writing in my journal or reading a good book and drinking a cup of tea. It’s a good place to sit and center myself when I’m having trouble sleeping or just need a little time to reset. I keep a yoga mat in my living room closet for impromptu stretching and meditation.
I turned a table, another free secondhand find from years ago, into a special desk with little tubes of glitter and a tutorial from Jinx in the Sky. Every time I sit down to work, I feel like I’m in another realm. The old mug with a broken handle that my sister gave to me way back when I lived in Brooklyn is now my pen holder. The mug is decorated with a picture of my entire family, and seeing us as kids with toothy grins, snuggled up with my mom and dad on our old sofa, instantly brings me happiness. Having that sparkle and warmth to greet me every day helps to distract me from anxious feelings so I can focus on writing. I’m learning how to turn old containers into office accessories. Not only does it save me money (which eases stress!), it makes everything in my work environment seem personal and a little more special. The space is decorated with collages and vision boards.
It’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s okay to breathe and sparkle and read and look at beautiful pictures and drink warm tea and feel good. It’s okay to cry and be scared and then soothe yourself after you cry and be proud of yourself for dealing with fear. Creating a comfort box helped me to realize all of this.