How to: Make your own self-soothing sensory kit

By Georgina Lavan 

Self-soothing is a distress tolerance skill learnt in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Its aim is to alleviate distress through comforting and nurturing oneself when experiencing a crisis.

A self-soothing sensory kit is designed to be accessible when someone is experiencing heightened emotions or distress. Self-soothing is done using the five senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. The kit can be as small or large as you wish – the idea is to find items that help you cope during overwhelming situations. You can keep them in a designated area, whether that is in a box, cupboard or play area. They are there to provide positive feelings through the use of external cues.

Creating your own kit is easy. You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy items; many of these are available in most households. Here are some ideas of items to build your own self-soothing sensory kit.

Adults

Sight:puppy

  • Photos of loved ones
  • Photos of animals
  • A DVD of your favourite movie or home videos

Sound:

  • An iPod Playlist
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Sound app

Taste:

  • Your favourite snackstea
  • Herbal tea or hot chocolate

Touch:

  • Stress ball
  • Feathers
  • A hair brush
  • A soft blanket
  • Patting or curling up with your pet

Smell:candles

  • Scented candles
  • Essential oils
  • Perfume
  • Cook a fragrant meal

Children

Sight:

  • Colouring in books
  • A kaleidoscope
  • Calm down jar (mix glitter glue, water and their favourite toys in a jar. Shake up the jar and allow them to watch it until the glitter settles)

Sound:music

  • Music box
  • Audio book
  • Small instruments (tambourine, xylophone)

Taste:

  • Chew jewellery
  • Washcloth to suck on
  • Teethers

Touch:bear

  • Silly putty
  • Plush toys
  • A touch and feel picture book
  • Hand size bean bags
  • Tactile beads
  • Spikey ball
  • Squigglet sensory bracelets

Smell:

  • Scratch and sniff stickers
  • Scented play dough
  • Room spray
I wonder what ideas you might have that could be helpful to add to your own self-soothing kit?

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