Creating an Emotional First Aid Box

It’s Easter weekend. Instead of creating an Easter basket with just chocolate, why not consider making a self-care kit that you can use all year?

I want to start off by saying that I did not create this idea. I have tried unsuccessfully to find the source of the idea, but it seems to be a kind of counselor self-care thing that has been floating around for so long that no one knows where it originated.

That being said, an emotional first aid box is such a valuable tool to keep around–whether you’re looking for something to ground you from a trigger, help manage panic attacks, counter the effects of stress, or just bring yourself joy throughout the day.

Emotional first-aid kits can be as simple or as creative as you want them to be. Start out by picking a container.

Since I like to craft, I tend to go for a plain wooden box that I can then decorate; however, if you’re not into that, consider a bag or a jewelry box.

The one pictured here is one I created for a previous job. I used calming ocean colors and a seashell to remind me of the treasures that come from adversity and the beauty of “going deep” with emotional work.

Once you have the container you want to use, you can choose to fill it with items.


In the original way I heard the emotional first-aid box explained, it was recommended that the box contain at least two things for every sense that is soothing or grounding. Hence, I started off putting in things like tea and chocolate, bells, worry stones, and pictures I liked.


However, as my box has evolved more to fit my personality, I found myself seeking to add symbols as well as sensations—including something to remind me of spiritual truths that were important to me or quotes from books that were meaningful.

I find that the senses are great for basic grounding when you feel like  you’re about to jump out of your skin but the items with symbolic or sentimental meaning are better for the long haul. They were the things that I turned to when I felt burnt out and needed a reminder of what I was trying to accomplish in life. They kept my fire and passion burning.


More recently with my internship, I’ve found myself adding items to the box that are more literally self-nourishing. Things like granola bars, aspirin, Arnica cream, or lip balm.

A rice pillow has become my favorite item lately. It’s easy to sew if you have a sewing machine…or even simpler is just taking a sock and filling it partially with rice. Throw in some lavender and tie it off—voila! There is probably nothing better than laying a warm rice pillow on your eyes or neck for fifteen minutes.


Although toys can be a sense item or a symbolic item that could be added in, I mention them separately because so many adults deny themselves the right to play with toys. Toys are fucking amazing, and it is a crying shame that we as a society think that people should stop playing with them after a certain age. When I’m telling someone about the self-care box, I practically order them to include toys.

Make it what you want

The best thing about this kit is that there is no end to the personalization of it. Make it what you want and what you need!

P.S. If anyone knows where this idea originated, please let me know because I am super interested in it!