Three Mindfulness Tools for Do-It-Yourself Anxiety Relief
Thursday, November 16 2017 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Put your anxiety relief into your own hands with do-it-yourself (DIY) mindfulness tools. Make some objects to add to your growing toolbox of strategies to lower your anxiety. An anxiety toolbox refers to techniques you use to reduce anxiety, both in the immediate moment and long term. Some tools are actual objects, such as a jar of bubbles to foster slow, deep breathing. Other comfort objects reduce anxiety as well. Here are three mindfulness tools you can make for DIY anxiety relief.
Why Mindfulness Tools Lower Anxiety
Objects that can be touched, squeezed, and otherwise manipulated are great for reducing anxiety in the moment. Messing with physical objects helps release the pent-up tension that accompanies anxiety. Small, repetitive motions have a big effect on reducing anxious tension.
Also, these DIY anxiety relief objects are creative mindfulness exercises that result in mindfulness tools. You use most of your senses (taste is unlikely with these) to pull your anxious, racing thoughts and feelings out of your mind and onto the object. By fully paying attention to the object, you are calming your mind and living in the present moment.
3 DIY Mindfulness Tools for Anxiety
These three mindfulness tools let you absorb yourself in something other than anxious thoughts. They’re excellent for times when you find yourself overthinking everything because when you interact mindfully with these tools, your thoughts will gently shift and your body and mind will begin to feel calm.
While it’s possible to simply buy objects similar to the ones below, it’s more empowering to make them. They’re very simple, so you don’t have to be crafty (besides, they’re for you, not Martha Stewart). Making them provides a sense of taking charge. You’re powering up to beat anxiety. Then, when you use these mindfulness tools, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment that in itself lowers anxiety.
1. Homemade stress ball: This is a DIY object you can feel, squeeze, pinch, stare at, and more to refocus and release physical tension.
- You need a deflated balloon, some sand, or homemade play dough (it’s softer than store-bought).
- Fill the balloon with sand or play dough (use this as a mindfulness exercise).
- Tie the balloon.
- Draw on it with a permanent marker if you want to.
- Squeeze and knead it to lower your anxiety.
2. Rice or sandbox: This is a homemade version of sand trays used by therapists. Therapists use them with both children and adults because they’re soothing. Being able to rhythmically play with the rice or sand has a calming effect on the anxious brain.
- You need any bowl or container that is comfortable for you to dig your hands into, rice, or play sand from a hardware store (or, if you live by a lake, riverbank, or ocean, use that sand), and small objects (optional).
- Add small toys or objects, if desired. Sometimes, running your hands through the sand or rice to find various objects lets you experience more texture and depth, increasing your mindful experience.
3. Calm-down jar: Similar to a snow globe, this DIY anxiety relief object is both kinetic and visual. You shake it to put it into motion and then you watch the glittery, colored liquid swirl and slowly settle. As you watch the motion and pay attention to the colors and patterns, your heartrate slows and anxiety dissipates.
- You need a clear jar with a lid, such as a Mason jar or a clear plastic water bottle, glitter glue, glitter (perhaps with pieces in multiple sizes), food coloring, small objects (optional), and water.
- Pour water into your jar or water bottle, about 1/3 – 1/2 full.
- Add a big squeeze of glitter glue (no worries about precise measurements), and stir briskly with a fork.
- While it’s whirling, add several drops (to your liking) of food coloring, and stir with a fork.
- While it’s still whirling, dump in glitter and other little objects as desired.
- Add water to fill the jar to the top, and close with the lid.
- Shake it to your heart’s content, as needed, to lower anxiety.
You can put your anxiety relief into your own hands by making these three DIY mindfulness tools. Make them, keep them handy, and use them regularly. Enjoy experiencing your anxiety decrease.