All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

How to create a self-harm safety box…


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


The external of my new safety box (the Disney Princess contact was chosen by Meadhbh, as she has promised to play with me should I ever feel the need to open the box!) :)

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Self-harm safety box

The contents of my self-harm safety box!

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* 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!

35 thoughts on “How to create a self-harm safety box…

  1. I just loved this, and am still smiling at the thought of making a box! Thanks so much for starting my day with this “idea gift” :-)


  2. I need to do this! Thanks!


  3. This is an absolutely fabulous idea. I think I will make one myself.

    The thing that helps me the most when I feel urges is my emotional support cat. She always seems to know and will start rubbing her face on me. It makes it much easier for me to control these feelings. Although I think I will have to make a box, too. Thank you for the idea.


    • I’d love to have a cat to provide me with some emotional support, but my lease won’t allow me to have pets! :( Hopefully one day I’ll find myself living somewhere that allows me to have one of these beautiful, supportive creatures! :)

      I hope you have a great time putting together your box! :)


      • I bought my daughter a duck to take her mind off self harm and channel it into something she adores – animals :) Mrs Moo (the duck) is crazier than us but loves her “mum” – great therapy – but the box is my next “to do”!


  4. I keep bubbles blowing stuff and photos that make me happy in mine


  5. Awesome idea!!!! I’d like to have some blowing bubble stuff in there too like pakmum, as well as happy photos of friends. Thanks for sharing:) x


    • I’m glad you like the idea! :) I hope you have a great time putting together your box. And I completely agree about pakmum’s bubble idea, I’m going to have to invest in some for my box! :)


  6. Wonderful idea! Have to have to positive attitude that makes it possible to open and enjoy the contents though. Thinking about it, I would probably just cry about how I’ve lost etc etc but it might distract me for a bit….my anti-harm protection is a little dog.


    • The principle idea behind the box is distraction, which is why I’ve tried to cover several different bases in putting together my box. If I’m not in the mood for reading, then there are finger paints, if I’m not in the mood for them, there are some puzzles etc. Using the box may not work all the time, but I’ve found things easier to cope with if I do have one available.

      Unfortunately, courtesy of a regulation in my lease, I’m not allowed to have pets in my unit so I’m unable to have a cat/dog to help in times of emotional distress. But it’s wonderful that you have your dog to help you! :)


      • Depending on what country you live in, an emotional support animal is allowed by law in any rental unit. In the USA it’s covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is a bit of red tape involved, but not much. My dog is classified as a Psychiatric Service Dog, and she is allowed anywhere.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: My Self Harm Safety Box | Pride in Madness

  8. I think I should make one of these. Thanks for the idea.


  9. Reblogged this on The Precipice Edge and commented:
    Thoughtfully brilliant.


  10. I love this post and just want to hug you for your sweetness and vulnerability. Thanks so much for sharing!


  11. Reblogged this on bi[polar] curious and commented:
    An extremely insightful post about one method to avoid self harm, I love this idea!


  12. This is such a lovely idea, thank you for sharing! I’m looking forward to making my own now… :-)


  13. Love Love Love this!! Thank-you so much for this!


  14. Reblogged this on Seeing Rabbits and commented:
    Great idea! I have a book that I write my favourite poetry in. It would fit rather nicely in a box like this.


  15. Great post, great idea… thanks for sharing!


  16. Pingback: How to create a self-harm safety box… | Squeakers For the Win

  17. Reblogged this on DBSA NW Georgia Consumer Network and commented:
    Very cool and easy way to redirect your thought s to something positive. I use art a lot to distract my self from self defeating behaviors. It also boost your self esteem when you have created something special, BRAVO!!


  18. Am going to make one thank you.


  19. Reblogged this on Squeakers For the Win and commented:
    I thought I re-blogged this but I think I just posted a new post that linked to Addy’s post over at All That I Am. All That I Ever Was – My Journey With Depression and Other Catastrophies. In any case, her idea is a good one and is therefore worth sharing again. All you professional bloggers, please forgive the mistakes of the newbie!


  20. This is so brilliant. I’ve had my own safety box for the longest time but it never occurred to me that that’s what it is. I made it in art therapy a long time ago. If gas over the years accumulated notes and letters and cards all filled with words of love and support; things I needed to hear at hard times to pick me back up. All things that touched me deeply and still do. Every time giving in it giving up seems like the best solution, I’ve gone to that box. It truly has been a saving.


  21. I have my box and it has been very helpful. I strongly recommend you all make one.:) It really works!


  22. I really like the idea. I have things that I keep from when I feel ‘blue’, but a special place for them sounds great.


  23. Pingback: Vlog 3: Wellness Box | Marci, Mental Health, & More

  24. Reblogged this on Art Therapy and Related Topics and commented:
    I found this great post a while ago from this wonderful blog, and I have been meaning to repost it here for a while, as I am making a lot of boxes with people lately, mostly “affirmation” boxes, which could be considered “safe space”, as well as boxes that are more directly like the one in this post, boxes to have at your workplace when you need to feel calmer, or have a quick escape, more like “5 senses” boxes. All these kinds of boxes are great, and as an art therapist, I always welcome new ideas for decorating and using boxes in a healing manner…


  25. Pingback: my Self Harm Story | Random Thoughts

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