Early on in my recovery journey I was in a skills group, to identify ways we could regulate our emotions in those moments of recovery where they all felt a bit too much. Alongside our emotional toolkit, we were charged to put together a coping toolkit – a small collection of things we could have on hand for instances of strong cravings.
The things in the toolkit went alongside the different levels of craving we would come across.
For when the craving is present, but not crisis mode. I filled it with tactile things I could do as I sat with the feeling. I had nail varnish to mindfully paint my nails, a make up brush that felt nice and soft, some nice smelling candles.
For when the craving is powerful, and I am looking for a mindful distraction. Creative activities that kept my hands busy as I navigated my way through a complex emotion, such as colouring, a notebook for doodling, or a puzzle book.
For when the craving feels like a crisis that will make you compromise your sobriety. This for me was either put myself in soft clothing and watch something ridiculous on TV, a playlist of opposite-emotion songs, and the all-important list of people you can call.
Having it all there meant that when I felt the urge I needed to surf, I had a one-stop location where I could assess how bad it was, and take care of it until it passed.
What would go in your toolkit? What are things that make you feel grounded and safe when your head is spinning?
Two tiny things:
- Find a space for your crisis toolkit, add to it gradually. Use it whenever you need to.
- Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can physically feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste. Notice how that makes you feel. Now imagine doing that when your brain spirals. Practise it.