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Simple Coping Box for Mindfulness and Stress Relief


Why Mindfulness is Important

Being mindful is simply the act of focusing on the moment, the here and now that is the present. Too often our brains are distracted by memories of the past or concerns about the future.

When the past is examined, most people general focus on negative experiences. Shakespeare says, "The evil that men do lives after them, the good is interred in their bones" (paraphrase). We tend to focus on the bad experiences, the let downs and that can cause worry. These thoughts and emotions can cause us to loose focus and we forget to enjoy the pleasantries which are before us.

Many people also tend to focus on the future and look at that imaginary place - which has not arrived - with lenses tainted with concerns about failures. I won't be able to do my job right. If I try that, I'll fail...like I always have.

Being torn between the future/past and the present can cause us to experience stresses such as high blood pressure, anxiety and even an upset stomach. The long term effects can manifest themselves into more serious ailments that can greatly effect the quality of our lives. We can even drop dishes, bump into furniture or get into a car accident.

In short, neglecting to be mindful can be fatal.


This activity is not designed to be a substitute for therapy. The mindfulness activities which are described in this writing are done so as a stimulating craft. Any therapies implemented for achieving clinical mental health stability should be completed by a credentialed professional. I am offering this as a leisure activity that can be used for a wide variety of audiences in a creative fashion.

The Major Goals of this Activity

I have designed this project to be done individually, or shared as a group project.

I call this a Happy Box - but it can be referred to any other term as long as it has positive connotations. A Coping Case, a Refresher, a Safe Place, Security Blanket...etc.

And it doesn't necessarily have to be a box. The idea of a container is that is something that can hold inspirational objects in one place. It can be a shoe box decorated with photographs as in decoupage or it can be a designed in a wood shop and shellacked and covered with rivets and leather. It could be stored in a plastic bag and kept under the sofa or stored in a vase on the top shelf of a fine cabinet.

The contents are designed to appeal to each of the senses and based upon a Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) Model. CBT describes the connection between thinking, feeling and action. Think: mind body spirit. If you are experience worry, duress or even physical pain, by exercising control of your thoughts, you may find yourself in a different place.

Of course you have to be realistic about this. I am not proposing a miracle here, but you have probably hear about the power of the mind. I know you have heard it said "Mind over matter". That's the basic inner principal here that we try and arrive at and we do this by using objects to stimulate the senses.

The Senses

You would actually be surprised at how difficult it is for some people to name all the five senses. (This is of course when we are speaking about the natural world - I know some people believe in a sixth one). Even though this is something learned in grammar school, a review with adults never hurts.

Of course they are: Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Senses are important because they help us perceive and understand the world around us.

They also have strong thought and emotion connections. For example, the aroma of brownies baking might help someone remember a pleasant summer childhood. The taste of salty air may bring back memories of a beach. If the senses are stimulated correctly, the mind and emotions are energized.

The key is to help guide the perceptions in a positive direction and avoid triggers if possible. If negative stimuli are engaged, then it should be addressed.

The Box

You can be selective about the contents

You can be selective about the contents

A Note About Smell

The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example. This can often happen spontaneously, with a smell acting as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience.

— The Fifth Sense

Psychology and Smell

Managing the Contents

The idea is to try to find objects that appear - in particular - to one sense. You may want to have a small strobe light, or some evocative image to use for sight. One creator used small tea light candles which flickered - and these can be used as a meditative device. Another used a macabre image of a skeleton on fire on a dark background.

You can do this for all the senses: use cotton balls dipped in a substance and put them in small jars. Use flowers or lavender or a pleasant perfume.

For touch you can use a fabric or sandpaper. Perhaps a squeeze ball or something smooth like a well polished rock.

The idea is to bring together a collection of objects that will be delightful and can draw the focus and attention of one particular scent. Of course, sometimes there are things which can appear to multiple senses. Something like candy or jerky may taste pleasant, but also have a significant impact on touch or smell.

The idea is to be creative and enjoy the experience.

An Example of a Group Mindfulness Activity

A Note on Mindfulness

In being mindful, you don’t want to avoid your feelings. Part of it is being in the present moment, just the way that it is. At some times, that might include feelings of joy, but you don’t want to try to force happy thoughts or resist any particular emotional response. Sometimes, you just need to accept unpleasant emotions as a part of the moment. Accept disappointment, sadness, anger, jealousy, etc. as what they are and allow yourself to feel them.

— Project Happiness

Project Happiness Article

  • 8 Mindfulness Habits You Can Practice Everyday
    So many of us spend our days just running from moment to moment. We are busy, have demands coming from several different areas of life, and simply don’t feel like there is time to stop and smell the roses. We wonder if we can get the rose scent in a
You can use any container you see fit

You can use any container you see fit

How To Use

This box, once created, can be used as a conversation tool or just something to peruse through when you are bored.

One of the best times to use it however, is when you feel yourself getting the blues, or a little down and out. It's great for a crisis situation as well.

Keep things in it that are going to bring you up, or remind you of important milestones in your life. Think of it as a tangible scrapbook or photo album.

You can put important keepsakes in it - a treasured coin, baseball cards, stamps, a favorite pincushion - that you can pass on to your kids.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Fin

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