Being prepared for a crisis/natural disaster, is a pro-active step in safeguarding the welfare of ourselves and our family. It is vital to have some sort of plan and tools in place, so that, you are able to survive such an event. Perhaps you have purchased a 72-hour emergency kit with first aid supplies. When you are in the warning stages of a natural disaster, you may also need to take drastic measures to preserve your life – i.e., evacuation of your home/city. But, what about another type of crisis, a mental health crisis? . . . Have you been pro-active in putting together an emergency kit for such an eventuality? Have you taken the steps needed to prepare reliable resources – i.e., places and people, you might reside with when a crisis is near or in progress – those who can be counted on to provide the care and respite you need?
We may never have to use our 72-hour Emergency kit (hopefully) in our life time. How much more likely is it though that those of us who live with a mental illness, WILL face a mental health crisis? We need a special kit.
This kit needs to be a go-to kit that you use regularly – minute to minute, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or annually, based on what your needs are. I personally, have one that I carry around at all times. The items in this kit are unique to me. Different from a typical natural disaster kit where most of the items are universal and used once (if ever).
This kit can can include sensory items (things that stimulate your senses – i.e., touch, taste, smell, hearing) to help regulate your nervous system throughout the day. Did you know? Our mouth is one of the most useful of our body parts for self-regulation? From suckling babies to adults, the mouth is used to self-sooth. This is why use chewing gum more often for self regulation than to freshen the breath.
Your kit can include a PRN prescribed medication or natural remedy. The initials PRN, stand for the Latin phrase “pro re nata”, meaning “as needed” or “as the situation arises”. This can include an anxiolytic medication – i.e., Ativan or something similar, for anxiety and panic attacks. Another medication could be an analgesic (pain killer) type medication to take as needed.
It is also helpful to add something that gives you a sense of hope, peace, or of a pleasant memory of a person or place, in which case a photo or other physical object would suffice.
Your emergency kit can be as small or as large as you like, depending upon what is convenient for you to carry with you. You can add or take away things and personalize it continually as you develop a repertoire of tools.
I often find that just knowing that I have my kit on my person, has at times been a comfort in itself, even without using the tools within it. Below I have put together a list of some items in my personal kit to give you a reference of ideas. some things that may be useful to you in putting one together for yourself.
- Elastic band (to put around my wrist and snap it against my skin – using the sense of touch/pain for regulation)
- Chewing gum (If I find myself clenching my jaw or grinding my teeth, this gives me the stress release without the damage to my teeth/jaw.
- Rescue Remedy (tincture made from flowers for relaxation)
- PRN prescribed medication for anxiety
- Advil for muscle pain and headache
- Melatonin for a relaxant and sleep aid
- Pen in case I need to scribe
- Chap stick (For my chronically dry lips)
- Peppermint Essential oil (using the sense of smell and rub on my temples for headache and brain fog relief)
- Written note to myself with position affirmations, quotes, scriptures and a list of people I can call. In times of distress I can often experience “brain fog”– slip into a blank state of mind where I do not recall the people in my life that I can ask for support/help. It is also helpful to forewarn these individuals that you have put them on your list of supporters to call in crises, so that, they know your expectations and exactly what their role would be.
I am always interested in new ideas for self-care, self-regulation and crises plans. If you enjoyed this article, or have other items that you use in your own kit, please share them in a comment below!
Keep healing, growing and finding your truth