Once upon a time, when I was much a much younger (and sexier) man than I am today, I used to own a box. On a purely aesthetic level, there was nothing special about this box. It was just a run-of-the-mill shoebox decorated with Doctor Who stickers, newspaper cuttings and images of the great Australian actress, Toni Pearen.
What was special about this box was on the inside, for I’d filled it with colouring pencils, rubber bands, bath salts, candy, a mini-colouring book, a couple of novels, a DVD and some (slightly more) risqué images of the great Australian actress, Toni Pearen.
For this box was my safety box; a box I could turn to when my self-harm urges grew so intense that I needed some serious distraction to stop me from injuring myself.
Over the years I owned this box I lost track of how many times it prevented me from doing something stupid, how many times I cried over its contents or how many people I lied to about its true purpose. But, as with most things, time stole this box from me and ever since it was taken from my life, I’ve missed it on more occasions than I can count.
Of all the tricks I used to dissuade me from self-harm, this box was the most successful.
Because it was mine.
And I loved it.
Recently, courtesy of a self-harm support group, I’ve created a new safety box for me to turn to. A box I have once again filled with fun little items and distracting shenanigans to quell any self-harm urges that may occur. So today, as well as sharing my box with you all, I’m going to tell you how you can make your very own safety box.
How to make your very own self-harm* safety box
- All you need to start is a box. It can be an old shoebox, a gift box from your local giftware store or even a discarded cereal box. As long as it has four walls, a base and a lid, you’re good to go!
- Once you’ve got your box, the next step is to personalise it. For this you can cover it with contact, decorate it with funky wrapping paper or even paint it. Let your creativity soar…this is your box after all!
- The third step is to fill the box with items that will help you regain control during periods of emotional distress. Think things that make you happy. Think things that are tactile. Think things that trigger your senses. Think things that cannot do you harm. This is your box, so whatever you decide to put in it will be personal to you, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Arts and crafts: colouring pencils, finger paint, plasticine, paper, water colours, brushes.
- Brainteasers and puzzles: a small jigsaw puzzle, word-searches, Sudoku.
- Fun and games: small toys, cuddly toys, travel board games, a pack of cards.
- Odds and ends: books, DVDs, luxurious bath products, essential oils, meaningful photos, candy.
- Once you’ve filled your box with all manner of exciting and smile-inducing items, simply store the box in a special, easy-to-remember place so that when things get rough you’ll know exactly where to find it!
Once your box has been completed and placed in special place, all you need to do is remember to use it should you ever become triggered and/or feel the urge to self-harm. When you come to use your box, make sure that you are in a private and safe place within your house (perhaps on your bed) and that the box and its contents are the only thing you have to hand…then just enjoy yourself! Go to town with colouring in, make cute monsters out of your play-dough or draw epic artworks upon the canvas of your body with a chunky red pen.
Remember, creating a self-harm safety box isn’t just about distracting you from the demons of self-harm, it’s about celebrating the awesomeness (and uniqueness) of you. Have fun with it, play with it, enjoy it and be good to yourself.
* It should be noted that you don’t have to be a self-harmer to create a safety box. Anyone can have a safety box to turn to in times of emotional distress, whether that distress be mental health related or simply the pains of day-to-day life!