There’s nothing worse than being out and about living life and being struck with particularly bad anxiety and looking for something to help you cope, only to discover it’s nowhere to be found. Living with chronic anxiety can lead to many physical effects, so I’ve found it useful to keep a mental health kit on me whenever I go out. The items in this kit help me to manage and deal with anxious thoughts and feelings while others help me deal with some of the physical symptoms and effects of anxiety.
If you have anxiety, you may use these items at various times throughout your day or week. The beauty of having these items in an easy-access kit is that you’re unlikely to forget something you’ll need when you go out and will know where it is. When experiencing stress and anxiety, the last thing you want to do is make things worse when you’re already in a highly agitated state.
So, what items would you include in a mental health kit for those who experience anxiety?
These are my 9 mental health kit everyday essentials:
When I start to feel anxious, I find it very helpful to write down all my thoughts and emotions. Writing down what I’m thinking helps to reduce the repetitious merry-go-round in my head and helps me process what I’m experiencing. Any kind of notepad or journal works for this activity, but I also have a few journals for specific activities. One of my favourites is Write it down, let it go.
2. Mobile phone apps
There are so many great ways to use your mobile phone when you’re experiencing anxiety. I use a number of different mental health apps, listen to mental health podcasts and meditations or, when I’m experiencing sensory overload and need to calm down, I’ll listen to some of my favourite music or use a white noise app. I also find playing games that don’t require much thought (such as Solitaire) to be helpful in giving me a break from anxious thoughts.
Headphones can be great not only if you want to listen to music (classical music is best when you’re feeling anxious), meditations or podcasts on your phone, but to signal to others that you don’t want to be interrupted. Often, when you’re feeling anxious, you just want to be left alone to process your thoughts and emotions and ground yourself before re-emerging into the world.
4. Lip balm
When I feel anxious, I have a bad habit of biting my lips. Applying lip balm helps keep my lips smooth, reducing the temptation of biting off any loose dry skin, and also reduces the appeal because of the taste.
5. Nail file
On a related note, I also bite my nails incessantly, which can lead to rough edges. In turn, rough nail edges make it even more tempting to bite my nails, and so I get stuck in a dangerous cycle until I have no nails left. Carrying a nail file (the cheap ones work just as well as any others) can help me break the cycle by filing away those rough edges before I decide to ‘fix’ them with my teeth.
One of the physical symptoms of anxiety that I regularly experience is having a dry mouth. I’ve realised that chewing gum can make a huge difference and is even more effective than drinking water, because of the amount of saliva you’re creating.
7. Magnesium spray
Whenever I start to feel the tension in my neck and back, I’ll cover these areas with a magnesium spray like this one.
Fisiocrem is another great way to relax those tight muscles after a particularly stressful day, but you can also buy this life-saver in a small tube that will fit in your handbag (or mental health kit!).
9. Headache medication
I’ll usually try to avoid taking medicine until I’ve tried the above tips, but if they don’t help and a stress-headache sets in, it might be time to pop a pill.
Having these items on-hand throughout the day when I’m away from home can be very helpful when it comes to managing stress and anxiety, as well as the physical symptoms and effects of this mental health condition. If the items in your mental health kit aren’t enough to prevent a migraine, once I get home, I’ll use a heat pack on my neck and shoulders to release some of that built up tension and lie in the dark until it goes away or I fall asleep.
If your anxiety feels worse when you’re at work, you might find some helpful advice by reading about these 5 strategies to cope with social anxiety in the workplace.